Monday, August 13, 2007

Beer O'the Moment - Brooklyner & Schneider Hopfen Weisse

We are big fans of most of the offerings of Brooklyn Brewery in general -- and brewmaster Garrett Oliver in particular. It turns out that several months ago, Oliver hopped a plane to Germany to collaborate with the Schneider brewing company, both breweries decided to combine the best of German wheat flavor and American hops. (You can read the very interesting overview of how this happened at Cure For What Ales You. They do a better job explaining than we could.) The two breweries turned out the Brooklyner & Schneider Hopfen Weisse.

Recently, we had apparently had the proverbial horseshoe firmly lodged where the sun-don't-shine, because we were able to sample a 22oz offering from one of only two cases being offered in Upstate New York. (At least that's what the guy at the Party Source told us.) We were slightly skeptical only because there haven't been, in our experience, a lot of successful hop/wheat combinations. (And if you can think of any besides this one, please do drop a note.)

The look of the beer is striking color. It's a gorgeous cloudy golden yellow. There is a major top layer of gloriously foamy head. The radiance of the beer is really striking. It's bright and shining in color, and yet so cloudy. (My crappy camera-phone picture below doesn't begin to do it justice.)

The scent is heavy with both that slightly pungent wheat smell we all love so much, and also a strong orange peel. There is that slight hint of banana that you will get with a typical hefe weizen, but it's much more slight than usual The aroma is sweet, for sure, but it's also grounded by that thick yeast smell. It's quite nice, especially for a Hef. It doesn't have that saccharine sweetness that characterizes so many well-intentioned Hefes. We also do detect just a smidgen of hops, but we think this might be wishful thinking. That is until we take a sip.

Congratulations, universe, you win. The combination of German engineering and American know-how have created one hell of a hoppy hefe weizen. The initial sip has the familiar tastes of orange/wheat/banana that you will get from a Hef. This is not to say that these flavors are just ordinary, because they are near-perfect. Nice sweetness in the fruit and in the wheat, balanced by some dry yeast. If they would have left it at that, we would have been duly impressed with this as a hefe weizen.

Oh but those cheeky Teutons weren't done. At the swallow, there is a surprising waterfall of bitter, grapefruity hops. We must admit that this was both shocking and exhilarating. While the yeast and fruits are shaking your hand, the hops are waiting for you to look down so they can slap you in the back of the head. Really tremendous. And instead of that sometimes cloying fruity sweetness that some Hefs leave in the aftertaste, this beer -- like napalm perhaps -- leaves nothing but hops in its wake. Not since Wernher von Braun and NASA have Germans and Americans been able to create such a beautiful invention.

The beer is thick like a hefe weizen, with that milky thickness, but also leaves a nice bitter hop film. Smooth for style. It's more than the average Hef. The key is not that the hops are so strong, but that they create such a nice secondary balance to the sweetness of the malt.

One note: it may be recommended to try this entire beer in one sitting. Although the beer doesn't appear to lose any of its carbonation after opening (and then re-sealing with an air-tight stopper), it does lose a lot of its clarity. It is much cloudier, and more of a mustard color. I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but it isn't as bright, and looks more thick.

If you have the good fortune to pick up a bomber of it, go for it.

2 comments:

D W said...

Gumballhead, anyone?
Hop Sun?
Uber Sun?

Bill said...

You know, this is a great point. When I said "wheat" and "hops" I probably should have clarified with "hefe" and "hops." I haven't had the Uber Sun yet, but the Hop Sun and the Gumball head are both top notch.

This however was the first Hefeweizen I've ever had with any significant hop presence. Thank you for allowing me to clarify.