Monday, October 22, 2012

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel: A Real Mouthful

Good evening,

I was wandering through a local LCBO (Ontario liquor store), and I found a couple new brews from the oldest brewery in the world: Weihenstaphan. What did I find? The Weihenstephaner Hefeweissebier Dunkel and Weihenstephaner Vitus Weizenbock. I've never had a Weizenbock before, so I'm pretty excited about it. Unfortunately, I won't be having it tonight. Tonight is all about the Hefeweissbier Dunkel.

First of all, the beer pours beautifully. This beer is a nice, light brown colour. Very cloudy with a white, rocky head, a characteristic of a Bavarian style Hefeweissbier, and comes from the wheat malt used in the brew. The cloudiness comes from the yeast (or 'hefe' in German). Part of the brewing process is to filter out the yeast, which stops (or slows) fermentation, and adds clarity to the beer. In the case of a Hefeweissbier, the yeast is not completely filtered out. This also creates a phenomenon called "bottle conditioning", which is the process of further fermentation in the bottle. This helps create a higher alcohol content in the beer, and leaves it cloudy. This beer rings in at 5.3% ABV, but since it is not fresh off the shelf, it may actually be higher due to bottle conditioning.

The stereotypical Weissbier has a nose consisting primarily of banana, bubblegum and cloves, and this brew definitely stays in character. As it is a Dunkel, however, there is also a hint of burnt sugar (caramel), and some dried apricot added to the mix. Darker beers use darker malt, which translates into more of a caramel, sometimes toasty essence. In this case there is definitely some caramel on the nose. I also smell buckwheat honey and a boozy aroma. The actual yeast, or biscuit smell rounds things out. Overall the scent is quite intoxicating. Get it?

Tasting this beer, I get a full repeat of the nose. The banana and bubblegum are predominant, while the caramel, apricot and honey follow closely. The finish is largely boozy, with some banana and biscuit as well. This beer is quite enjoyable. I would say it's a good beer to help somebody transition from the hot weather (where a good Hefeweissbier will never go amiss), and prepare for a the cold weather, where darker brews with higher alcohol reign supreme... in my mind at least.

This beer would pair well with some nice aged cheese and chutney. Speaking of chutney, I found a nice pork roast in the fridge, coated with my girlfriend's home made chutney. This was an amazing pair with this Dunkel. As there are also some darker characteristics in this beer, some nice brazed ribs would also pair well.

Alas, my pint is finished, so I guess I should be calling it a night. Until next time, if you see the glass as half empty, fill it up!

S.B.

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