Tuesday 3 December 2013

Weiss, weiss baby

Wheat heures: is this the right time
for a Weizen?
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. And this year, it's sooner. For on just day three of the calendar, I'm presented with something I'm not particularly relishing. 

I just don't like wheat beers. That wasn't always the case, of course. Around 20 years ago when they were just being introduced to the quasi-mainstream by Wetherspoon's, I thought they were brilliant. Especially that slice of lemon or, even better, a few pips of said citrus fruit they used to add to make it fizz even more.

They'd serve it in terrific glasses too - either a ridiculously heavy, oversize glass bucket that no ordinary man could lift with one hand or one of those that could easily pass for the World Cup. In fact, I'm going to pour tonight's into my own crystal Jules Rimet trophy to get the full effect. Though the lemon and pips can piss off, mind. 

But after a while, they began to grate. I think I probably had too many of them one night. Must have been the phenolic clove-like, herby flavour that did it. Or the huge amount of carbonation. Or perhaps the novelty just wore off. Who knows? Maybe it was just that I got fed up with too many people asking why I wanted a 'weak' beer. 

I don't bother with them much nowadays, although I can stomach the dark ones at a push. Which is probably a shame as I expect there are some really good ones. In fact, I know there are - I've been known to shower praise on Augustiner Weissbier and Wiehenstaphaner before and would gladly drink them again. In summer. Preferably in Germany in the shadow of some schloss or other next to a river running through a thick pine forest or something. 

Not in a small two-bedroomed place in Honor Oak in the middle of winter when I'm in a hurry to head out. Ho hum. I trust Sam hasn't got me the West Country's version of Hoegaarden.

Beer: Weizen
Strength: Honestly? A disturbing 6.4% Well, that's what's written on the outside anyway.
Smell: It genuinely smells like Woodpecker Cider out of the bottle. No word of a lie. In the glass, there's more nail varnish to the bouquet. Ha! I said 'bouquet'. 
Tasting notes: This has got all sorts going on. Have to say it's not like any Weizen I've ever had - perhaps it's a Weizenbock? Not sure. One sip and I'm wandering through the Black Forest after a wintery shower, crunching fallen pine needles and freezing snow underfoot and catching a rare glimpse of a roe deer. There's definitely something smoky and woody about this one and it's a real slow-burner too. Long after you think its snowball flavour has thawed, an impish woodland elf or somesuch comes out from behind a tree stump and jabs your tongue with an icicle of hops. I actually really quite like this.
Session factor: It's a little perfumed and smoky for too many at once.
Gut reaction: Surprisingly not bad. I expected a world of fizz, but it's much less volatile than that.

Actual beer: Ashley Down Brewery Walloon Wheat. Well I never. 

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