Not exactly a wheat beer | This unique beer blends many styles | by Jeffrey Gredlein
It’´s getting pretty warm outside. Not quite summer, but you wouldn’t know it from the humidity and temperature. And with summer weather comes wheat beer, a great choice for refreshment in the heat. Wheat beers come in a variety of types, but the majority of original styles come from either Germany or Belgium. Regardless of country, the styles have in common the requirement that about 50 percent of the malt bill must be made up of wheat. The Germans boast several varieties of weizen beer, including hefeweizen, dunkelweizen and weizenbock. The Belgians really have only one style, witbier. Most wheat brewers in Bavaria, in south Germany, make two kinds of beer: hefeweizen, with yeast, or kristall weizen, without yeast, which is less hazy and easy to drink. Hefeweizens are more prevalent and are much more interesting. While I’m not completely ready for a steady diet of wheat beers just yet, there is a unique type of wheat beer that really stands out, and is not your standard summer fare. You might be familiar with dark wheat beer, dunkelweizen, a somewhat more malty and complex version of the traditional hefeweizen style of ale. Dark wheat beers are crisp yet fruity, smooth yet tangy, spicy yet yeasty, and always refreshing. As well, you should know another classic of German brewing, bock. A hearty brew, sustaining and warming, bock is a lager beer of strong tastes, deep amber colors and higher alcohol content than many of Germany’s other styles of beer. In 1907, the Schneider- Weisse brewery in Munich decided to compete with the popular dopplebocks of the time by brewing a dark wheat ale with the strength and body of a bock. The resulting creation was Aventinus, a powerful dark wheat ale that was first and foremost malt filled, while still being loaded with dark fruit flavors and the essential yeast character of a wheat beer. Weizenbocks are a rarity in the beer world, very few breweries ever attempt the style, and fewer still get it right. The standard, and in my opinion, the best option in this class is Aventinus. It is a classic German beer, combining the greatest points of wheat and dark lager beer. Aside from Aventinus, there are very few weizenbocks available, and if you find one, you should definitely grab it. Luckily, one American brewery, Victory, has attempted this style, and succeeded. Moonglow is an American beer on par with the best from Germany. It may have to do with the fact that the beer is brewed using almost all imported German ingredients. The bottle is a great start, with a colorful German village off over the fields at dusk. Poured gently into the glass, this ale is dark ruby red in color and cloudy from top to bottom. The light orange colored head is huge and fluffy, remains for much of the beer. The aromas of this beer are great, beginning with peppery notes with fruit, followed by typical wheat smells of clove and banana. If that wasn’t enough, the flavor profile adds to the mix sweet dark bread and hints of caramel and apple. As the beer warms, the alcohol just barely arrives; a great job by the brewer considering this one is 8.7 percent ABV. Bananas and nutty notes (pecans?) are never far away from the tongue. Moonglow is a medium to full-bodied beer, but for such a creamy beer, it has some carbonation, with a crisp finish. Victory typically brews very hoppy beers, but this bock-strength wheat is a malty winner. Enjoy the brews.
Brewery: Victory Brewing Co.
Origin: Downington, Pa.
ABV: 8.7 percent
Pairing: German and hearty meats; if adventurous, try it with dessert