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AventinusWeizen-Eisbock

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

Style: Eisbock
ABV: 12.0%

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


Comments:
International Beer Month is taking its last breath here at BeerDorks.com, but before it ends Nigel is reviewing another brew. That’s right … TWO reviews in a month, which, per my new contract with Webmaster Glick, fulfills my quota through 2014. I will assume that the check is in the mail.

The current selection is from a brewery we’ve touched on a few times previously, G. Schneider & Sohn based in Kelheim, Germany. Founded in the heart of Bavaria along the banks of the Danube, since 1872 the Schneider brewery has been creating fine German brews, all variations of weissbiers. For those not fluent in German, “weissbier” translates into “wuss bear,” though I’m not sure why. I guess I don’t understand German.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that we’ve reviewed a Schneider brew for I.B.M., making them the international equivalent of Bell’s, Three Floyds, Founders, and New Glarus in terms of popularity among BeerDorks.com reviewers. In fact, unless Schneider suddenly expands their lineup, we’re running out of options. Next year I may have to review Schneider’s Alkoholfrei. For those not fluent in German, “Alkoholfrei” translates to “graceful brewing bird full of flavor and alcohol that will make man happy.” Sounds intriguing …

Thus far, G. Schneider & Sohn’s has been represented in ’09 by Aventinus (courtesy of Eddie), Hopfen Weisse in ’10 (Nigel), and Original Weisse in ’11 (Rings). All have been well-received, and rightly so. Aventinus is one of the most complex and prestigious weizenbocks in the world. Hopfen Weisse is a collaboration between Schneider and Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver, also classified as a weizenbock but more of an American version, complete with a major hop profile. Original Weisse is the flagship brew, a classic take on the traditional weissbier. Weizen-Eisbock is the furthest Schneider deviates from the weissbier, as it’s much more “eisbock” than “weisse.” If one needs proof, consider that it has an ABV of around 12 percent that punches you squarely in the face. I’ve never had a weissbier punch me in the face before … typically, they barely make a breeze by my chin. If it wasn’t for the wheat (known as “zveet” in German),this would be a pure-blooded German eisbock.

There is an interesting story behind the development of Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock. The original Aventinus, brewed for decades by Schneider (since 1907, to be exact), was shipped in carriers that lacked temperature control up until the 1940’s. During the cold Bavarian winters, often times Aventinus would freeze and a noticeable change took place in the beer. As is the concept in traditional eisbocks and later in the shitty “ice” macros popular in the 1990’s, the separation in the beer caused by freezing created a stronger brew, not only in flavor but in total alcohol. Current Schneider brewer Hans Peter Drexler capitalized on this concept by creating Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock about a decade ago. Weizen-Eisbock utilized the “iced” concept on a controlled level, creating a version of the already super-complex Aventinus that was not only stronger, but more flavorful.

The pour of Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock is very representative of the upcoming drink. A think, dark brown brew reveals a mild head about a half inch thick that quickly dissipates, leaving a nominal tan lace on the very edges of the glass. It looks like motor oil, not only with the deep brown hue but also large amounts of sediment that settle to the bottom of the glass. It appears dark and complex in the glass, a sure harbinger of what’s to come.

The aromas are massive. Very complex scents come flying at the nostrils the closer the glass gets to the palate, with initial dark fruit notes of sour apple and plum quickly followed by deep sugary notes of caramel and molasses. The fact that this is a wheat beer comes through in the aroma thanks to notes of banana and clove … lots of clove. A hint of alcohol begins to take over as the beer warms. I felt the scent of alcohol was very present at the end of the drink, though hard to detect at the beginning with so much else going on in the aroma.

If the aromas are that complex, imagine what the initial flavors are. As one would expect from an “amped up” version of the already extremely complex Aventinus, this has a LOT going on. I’d say “initial flavors are … .,” but that wouldn’t be accurate. There are no “initial” flavors, but rather a “shit-ton” of flavors that pound you from beginning to end. There is an overwhelming thickness to Weizen-Eisbock, beginning with a powerful, sugary malt backbone of caramel and molasses that feels at times like you could cut it with a knife (note: with as strong as this is, I may actually try to do that before I’m done). What has the potential to be overwhelming sugary sweetness is quickly tempered by huge notes of banana, plum, and clove, a sure sign that this is in fact a wheat-based beer. And yes … that is still very hard to believe as I continue drinking it. There are a boatload of other notes present at various times: an almost bourbon-barrel like profile, vanilla, and, as you would expect, an alcohol bite that ranges at times from a mild secondary note to something so powerful it threatens to burn your tongue off. Overall, this is as complex as anything I’ve ever had. Weizen-Eisbock does manage to maintain a rather smooth profile on the palate, but the bite of the complex flavors and alcohol can be a bit much to handle at times.

Despite its intensity, I really enjoyed Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock. It’s a true test for anyone, regardless of their craft beer prowess. But, I must say … I would prefer the original Aventinus in most situations. The reason? Original Aventinus is also damn tasty, still very complex, but much more balanced and drinkable. Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock has the potential to overwhelm, despite being a damn fine beer. Not only is the ABV borderline insane, but at times it’s so thick and so massive that one can easily become overwhelmed. Once again I’m impressed with G. Schneider & Sohn, which is one of hundreds of international brewers that prove beyond a doubt that crafting fine beer is universal.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on February 29, 2012.
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