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Beer Reviews



Style: Weizen Bock
ABV: 7.7%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

Pair With:
• Bananas
• Goose
• Gumbo
• Trout
• Veal
Welcome one and all to 2014’s inaugural International Month review at! As you know, for no particular reason every February we (and I say “we,” but I mean “I,” because everyone else has been laid off, or is at least dead or something) focus on brews from outside these United States of America. Usually I like to start off International Month with a bang and … this year is no exception!

We’ll start with a beer from what very well might be the oldest brewery in the world: Weihenstephan (pronounced VIE-HIGH-SHTEPH-ON, but say it really fast to impress friends and strangers alike). Tracing its roots back more than one thousand years, Weihenstephan started life as a monastical brewery, and later became the Royal Bavarian State brewery. One reason for this was that during the middle ages, wheat—being an integral ingredient in making an important foodstuff at the time, bread—was strictly prohibited from being used for making beer, except, of course, if it was made for royalty. Weihenstephan was one of several Bavarian breweries known for their wheat beers, or weissbier, if you want to sound authentic, and that remains true today.

While Weihenstephan is known for their Hefe Wiessbier and a bastardized version for the poseurs who like their wheat beers filtered [scoff], Kristall Weissbier, tonight’ssfeatured brew is without a doubt their best offering, and one of the best beers (or biers, if you want to sound authentic) in the world.

It is called, simply (especially after the mouthful that is the brewery name) Vitus, and it is what is referred to as a weizenbock. In layman terms, that is a wheat beer with a little meat to it, a bigger body, a bigger ABV, and usually a more complex flavor profile than your typical weissbier.

It pours a cloudy orange with a swollen thumb’s worth of creamy-bubbled ivory head. If you can find it on tap somewhere, you’re likely to get it in a huge, bowl-shaped stemmed glass that tells everyone else in the place that your taste in beer is awesome and you fucking rock. All well and good, but what does it taste like? First, let’s give it a nice, long sniff.

The real star of traditional wheat beers is the yeast. Sure, the heavy wheat malt bill lends some refreshing acidity to the proceedings, but it’s the super-fruity and -spicy esters from that aggressive ale yeast that—when wielded by a talented brewer—can create some amazingly complex and enticing flavors when mixed just so with the right amount of wheat, barley, and hops. And guess what? Vitus is no exception. The nose is vibrant bubblegum up front with distinct notes of cinnamon in the back. Drool inducing from the get-go.

Finally, on to the taste. Well, after we talk about the body: chewy, for a wheat beer, with a firm, assertive, yet welcoming mouthfeel. Despite the spicy esters in the nose, the sip starts with the malt, hints of caramel toned down by the crisp acidity of the wheat, aided and abetted by ample carbonation—another hallmark of wheat beers, traditional or otherwise. Funky fruit notes—think banana and walnuts—and spice push up into the sweetness of the malt, easing us down into a medium finish (relatively short for craft beers, miles long in wheat beer terms) snipped off finally by that aforementioned carbonation.

If anyone were to actually read this they’d accuse me of being a shameless shill for Bavarian-style wheat beers, and—if this person actually existed—said reader would be right. But that should not in the least dissuade you from trying this beer, a big, beautiful, dangerously refreshing monster (7.7 percent ABV) of a wheat beer from one of the more storied breweries in the world. Ha!

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on February 3, 2014.
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