Brewsday: Aventinus Weizenstarkbier, guest-starring Tina
This beer immediately gets points for having a great big German name that sounds roughly like a combat vehicle.
I have an incredibly fun time with the German language, and its hilarious fundamental structure that just crams words together to make more complicated. If Tetris were a language, it would be German. Can you imagine ordering this in a pub somewhere in the Midwest?
Server: Have you decided what you’d like to drink?
Me: I’ll have a AVENTINUS WEIZENSTARKBEIR! please.
Server: There’s really no need to shout, sir.
Me: Oh, I think there is.
It’s just plain fun, and if there’s one thing you may have noticed over these last 10 Brewsdays, it’s that I’ll always enjoy a beer a bit more if there’s something fun about it. C’mon, say it with me:
Doesn’t it sound like something you should be shouting while you pound a podium?
Now, actual review time:
I’ve had a spotty experience with wheat beers in my time, having viewed them skeptically and been only slightly rewarded when I’m curious enough to try them. I think my first true attempt was Rickard’s Original White, a cloudy pale blond that’s very well-suited to summertime, as long as you’ve got a huge chunk of citrus floating in it.
Miss that citrus though, and… well. Don’t miss the citrus, is all I’ll say.
Since then I’ve made a few other leaps into the wheat beer, but never had any that make a true impression on me. They’ve always come across a bit wimpy, governed by a half-hearted sweetness on the one hand, or a mealy bitterness on the other. I’ve never found one that really wowed me, until I tried the Aventinus Weizenstarkbier from Schneider & Sohn.
The thing is, I like it because it’s exactly unlike every other wheat beer I’ve ever had.
Where most wheat beers are blond, Aventinus is amber and dark; where most wheat beers are a straightforward light and sweet, Aventinus is complex and nuanced. It’s as though some intrepid soul in Bavaria decided that it was about time to give Wheat Bock a personality, and the result was this tasty, spicy brew.
It doesn’t hurt that Aventinus goes out of its way to market itself to you, on the label, the bottle cap and then a little paper overlay stuffed over the bottleneck. Key points that you are apparently required to know include:
- It has a dark, ruby color
- It’s made from chocolate, roasted wheat and pilsner malts
- It’s from Bavaria’s oldest wheat beer brewery
- Its recipe dates back to 1907, and
- It’s a big, hearty 8.7% alcohol.
And best of all, it was invented by a woman, unless Bavarian men are likely to go by the name Mathilde. Maybe they do, I don’t know: Germans go to war a lot, so maybe they have a lot of pent-up hostility from things like this.
Happily, all this product knowledge training actually comes in handy, if only to help you understand what you’re getting into. Aventinus is different enough that it could come as a surprise, otherwise, though at least a pleasant one — the beer does pour out dark, though it’s more of an amber than a ruby, with a compact head that fizzes brightly like a soft drink.
Unfortunately, I’ve been shot down entirely by a rotten cold, the kind that destroys utterly any sense of taste and smell. You could pour Diet Sprite into a glass and mix it with tequila, and all I’d do is wonder when I ate so much pepper and why I have such a violent headache, that’s how ruined my senses are right now.
Fortunately, my girl Tina is the sort of woman who will bravely step up to take on tasting duties for me, so allow me to transcribe here, verbatim, her notes:
Nose: “Mmmmm, smells like raspberries, candlelight and cedars. Oh! And vanilla spice. And warm biceps.”
Taste: “It’s like a winter wheat. If you were to take everything that’s sun-shiney and bright about a wheat beer, and then distill and condense it, so that it’s ready for a deep and wintry night — that’s what you’d get here. It’s like the darker side of the sun.”
Conclusion: “I love it. For a wheat beer, it’s got these deep caramel notes, and it’s scented. It’s got a deep, cedar-y being… shut up, the cedar is there. It’s just there. If you were to try to market a wheat beer to a lager drinker, they wouldn’t like it; if you tried to market a bitter to a lager drinker, they wouldn’t like it. But, you take this — this deep, dark wheat beer; this rich, luxurious and wintry wheat beer, unexpected and sweet — and it’s easy and it’s exotic. It’s light and it’s caramel, and it’s a great way to make wheat beer accessible to people who don’t drink it.”
And then, of course, there’s the name: WEIZENSTARKBEIR!
Rating: 4 Bavarians named Mathilde out of 5