Last week I tried a decent beer, Ayinger’s Weizen-bock, and I wanted to try a similar example as a comparison. The Foodery actually stocks a number of beers of this style, which is unusual for beer stores in this area, and I picked out Vitus from Weihenstephaner. I previously reviewed Weihenstephaner’s Dark Hefeweissbier, which was very good, so I had high hopes for their Weizenbock.
Weihenstephaner is actually the oldest documented continuously operated brewery in the world, having been established prior to 1040 in the city of Freising, Germany. The brewery was founded on the grounds of Weihenstephan Abbey by Augustinian monks and remained in their hands until Napoleon Bonaparte nationalized it in 1803. The brewery is now known as the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan and operates both as a commercial brewery and a teaching facility for the Technical University of Munich. Currently available are 11 beers, ranging from a light wheat to a pilsner to a traditional bock.
This beer should be served in a weizen glass and will pair well with just about anything, in my opinion, although it might get a bit funky with spicy dishes. I’m a big fan of pork and sauerkraut, and I think that they would both go very well with this style, as the pork (properly cooked) will lend its own flavor without overpowering the beer, while the acidity of the sauerkraut will provide a strong counterpoint to the sweet maltiness of the Weizenbock.
The Vitus poured a hazy, yellow gold. This didn’t appear like the normal chunky yeast suspension I expect in a hefeweizen, but almost like a chill haze. Two fingers of white, pillowy, medium fine head formed, which dissipated quickly and left little lacing. The aroma was light and yeasty but also had a noticeable amount of alcohol in it and some hints of plum in the background. The alcohol surprised me, as this style is generally lagered for several months to allow the alcohol character to drop out. The taste has some bitterness up front, which fades away into a fairly light, sweet malt profile and then subsides into a slightly bitter finish with some plum notes. The mouthfeel was fairly thick, lingering after the taste of the beer, but was not coupled with the syrupy sweetness I’ve encountered in other beers with this mouthfeel.
Overall, this beer just tasted a bit off, especially the yeast taste profile. My best guess is that this beer was damaged during shipment, which is a perennial problem with wheat beers from Germany. The yeast just isn’t stable during swings in temperature, and therefore it doesn’t like being stuck in a shipping container on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. That being said, the mouthfeel was actually spot-on for this style, and except for the funky yeast, the aroma and taste were quite good. I think this beer has some real potential, but it’s a bit of a gamble as to whether you will get a good bottle or not.