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Beer Reviews

Aventinus

G. Schneider & Sohn
Kelheim
Germany
http://www.schneider-weisse.de/

Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 8.2%

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


Comments:
Aventinus is one of those touchstone beers, so good that the very first sip I had of it years ago is distinctly etched into my memory. It’s certainly been around a while. It was first brewed in 1907 by the Schneider family, still in business and on their, at least, sixth generation of brewers. It was brewed in response to the intense competition between doppelbock brewers in the southern German area of Bavaria, beers like Optimator and Salvator, whose creators moved to bottom-fermenting lager yeast to streamline and industrialize their product.

But Aventinus is brewed using an ale yeast, and not just any ale yeast: a strain of the Bavarian weizen yeast that exhibits the strong, distinct banana-and-clove notes in authentic German wheat brews. And even though Aventinus is a doppelbock, it’s brewed with a healthy portion of wheat, which serves to lighten up the body and color, despite its doppelbock wallop (8.2 percent ABV). Thus the brewery calls it a wheat doppelbock or weizenstarkbier. Along with that yeast, the wheat, and doppel attitude, Schneider has created a distinct, complex, drinkable brew and, not to mention, a world classic.

The pour is a gorgeous gradient of dark sepia at the top transforming to a glowing, semi-translucent mahogany at the base of the glass. The head is giant and pillowy, not snow white but plenty blanched considering the dark body. Being bottle-conditioned, some batches are brighter than others, and this bottle is fairly cloudy with actual chunks of sediment breaking apart near the depths. Bavarians like their brews yeasty, so Aventinus should be (and is) right up their alley.

The nose is spicy with hints of chocolate and plum. The Bavarian yeast strain highlights more clove spiciness than fruitiness, although there is plenty of esters hanging around the nose. My immediate impression on the first sip is a soft mouthfeel with a body tilting toward the heavy side. Then it’s a roller-coaster plunge into an incredible Celtic knot of soft chocolate notes weaving through refreshing hints of banana, dodging chords of clove zestiness, all through a cloud of bready yeastiness. The end is puncuated with a strong shot of spiciness with escaping glimpses of that big alcoholic kick. Hops are restrained to the point of concealment—the real highlights here are the mesmerizing interplay between the dark fruit and bright spiciness.

Aventinus is big and refreshing, welcoming and complex, intriguing and drinkable. It can be drunk with dessert stacked up against chocolate cake or apple pie, as a warming nightcap on a cold winter’s night, or while you’re sitting outside on a hot and muggy summer day. It’s versatile and infatuating. And easily one of the best beers in the world. The rule in the Glick basement is that a bottle of Aventinus must be on the premises at all times. I’m not kidding. It’s that fucking good.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on February 9, 2009.
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