Thursday, May 1, 2008

Holy Hopfen Weisse

I was fortunate enough to try the Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse collaboration the other week in the Bull and Castle during Knut Albert's brief visit to Ireland. In a typical B & C act of generosity two bottles of this beer was set upon the table for our pleasure. I enjoyed this small taster but the unusually large amount of sediment in the bottle made it hard to share out, and while I didn't get the worst of it, it was a little more nutritious than I am accustomed to. It was very pleasant, but I swore to myself that I would hunt down a bottle all of my own and try it in a slightly less yeasty state.

The beer proved easier to track down than I anticipated because I had been led to believe that it was a limited edition brew with a sparse supply hitting the Irish shores, but thankfully this does not appear to be the case, and I soon had a bottle all of my own.

The first thing that crossed my mind when I heard of this beer was how on earth the Americans sold the idea to the Germans. The Americans are at the very forefront of radical beer brewing so this concept would not be terribly strange to them, after all imperial IPAs and stouts are ten a penny in the States, but an imperial wheat beer is not something I had heard much about, let alone one which was aggressively dry hopped. On paper it looks like it shouldn't work at all, and as a traditionalist I must admit to being slightly horrified by the prospect, but it patently does work when you get to grips with the actual beer. Upon opening, the initial hiss of gas brought with it the unmistakable smell of bubblegum, an aroma I have heard described many times in reviews of wheat beers but never found myself. There was no mistaking it here, and it was one of many curious aromas emanating from the towering foam of this beer. It has a Jackel and Hyde like quality which causes the beer to catch you off guard with powerful dry hop aroma one moment swiftly switching to classic Bavarian wheat beer character.

Two other curiosities include the hugely understated alcohol content and the vast amount of sediment in the bottle. At 8.2% ABV one would expect a considerable kick, but it slips down the throat with nay a hint of the massive potential for intoxication it carries. The yeast content of the bottle seems excessive even for a wheat beer, but I managed to pour it reasonably well, making it resemble a more typical wheat beer rather than some of my earlier attempts at bottled home brew, which were more yeast than beer. All this seems perfectly fine to me though because such a unique beer is to be expected from the unlikely collaboration of these two master brewers. Let's hope that any future trans Atlantic collaborations are as successful as this one.


The Beer Nut said...

I do hope you found it impossible to keep a straight face while writing the words "imperial wheat beer".

Thom said...

I hadn't really thought about. The term Imperial is loose to me, and probably not appropriate for this beer, but I figured this is what the Americans would call a wheat beer that is twice as strong as a typical one. The Germans no doubt have a different term. Weizenbock? I'm shakey on descriptions of style.

The Beer Nut said...

Well, as a devout Pattinsonian, the use of the term "imperial" for anything other than stout is anathema to me. Here speaketh the Prophet. And here as well.

Go in peace.

Thom said...

Our hideously learned fellow blogger makes a good point. I think I could happily adopt his style definitions because at heart I am traditionalist. You will have no doubt noted a distinct lack of jaggery palm or dried fruit in any of my ales.