Monday, June 20, 2011

Brauhaus: Schneider-Weisse

My first German Brauhaus experience took place at Schneider-Weisse. The two beers I'd previously sampled from Schneider was the incredibly delicious and incredibly strong Schneider Aventinus, as well as their classic Weissbier. I was fulfilling a promise made to two friends by first stopping at the Schneider-Weisse Brauhaus, and was quite happy to do so. Riding into the city center by bike from my friends flat located to the south of Munich, I found the location quite convenient and easy to find (just a short walk from Marienplatz). I promptly walked in, and took a seat at a high table near the row of taps and bustling entrance to the kitchen. Sitting here for the next two hours, I was continuously impressed by the waitresses carrying massive trays loaded at times with up to 8 frothy half liters of beer as well as three to four plates of food. It was an enjoyable afternoon, laidback, relaxed and always something happening.

Taking a look at the menu I realized I had quite an assortment of beers to choose from. One thing I had not realized about Schneider before arriving to the Brauhaus, is that Schneider brews are all wheat beers (in one form or another). Glancing down the menu the first decision was easy: Schneider Aventinus. But then I realized there were two versions! Unser Aventinus and Aventinus Eisbock. The first version was 8,2% and the second was an Eisbock (an incredibly strong: "Ice Beer" which involves a freezing process to remove excess water and concentrate the alcohol) sitting at 12,2%. With nothing on my stomach the Eisbock would have to wait until next time; the 8,2% Original Aventinus was daunting enough. Deciding on the other beer did not prove so easy (as is usually the case with me). I was really wanting to sample something different, as one of my major goals in coming to Munich was to see if Germany was deviating from traditional styles in any way. I've had nearly all the Weissbiers from the big Munchen breweries, so where did that leave me? I had spotted a beer that caught my eye: Tap 5 - Meine Hopfenweisse. It was then that the waitress appeared (luckily English speaking) and proceeded to help me navigate the beer list. I started firing off questions: "So what kind of beer is this?" and "Is this just a hoppy Weissbier?" and they were all met with answers. Eventually, I settled upon two: Schneider Unser Aventinus and Schneider Hopfenweisse. The answer to my question was that indeed the Hopfenweisse was a hoppy version of a Weissbier. I was intrigued.

It was was suggested I have the Hopfenweisse first and it arrived a short time later. As I emptied the bottle into the Weizen glass I realized this beer was 8,2% also! I was in for an interesting afternoon. I've extensive notes on the beer but I'll just write a few of the highlights: first of all, the nose was incredible. It was definitely hoppy. I detected a fair amount of spicy hops; my guess was Saaz (but the waitress didn't know). It was sweet, pineapple-y, loads of hops: spicy and soapy. It was very IPA-like, which I was more than pleased with. The taste was quite spicy: black pepper, orange, soapy hops and a long spicy bitter orange finish. The thing I liked most about this beer was that it was attempting to blend two very different styles. Given the chance I probably wouldn't order it again, but I like that they were reaching for something different. I think in the past few years the IPA wave from the US has been slowly infiltrating Europe. The only problem: most palates in Europe aren't accustomed to overly hoppy beers. I've seen a few good examples of breweries producing milder versions of IPA's in the hope that people will try them, like them, and request
hoppier beers. I think Schneider was perhaps realizing this and making an attempt to bridge a gap. I wouldn't say this would be a good segway/transitional beer for someone looking to break into the world of hops, but I would say that for the discerning lover of hops, this would be a good option in a world of rarely hoppy beer.

Now, the second beer. I had to have a pint of Aventinus (luckily they offered the 330 mL shorter pours) and after starting into my second beer I quickly realized I'd need something on my stomach if I was going to survive. I was looking at the cheaper options on the menu and found a delicious pretzel onion soup. So I ordered a bowl and began writing the notes on Aventinus...In the glass it was a dark murky (chestnut) brown and golden-yellow around the edges (this one is for you Masa ;] ). The head was brownish white, retention decent, little lacing. The nose was over-ripe bananas, malt, bubblegum, and lightly toasted grain. The taste was on par with the nose: banana, lots of malt, spice, alcoholic notes, and Pepto Bismol? Schneider Aventinus was just as delicious as I remembered (and also just as dangerous). Luckily I was consuming this beer with a bowl of soup, otherwise I may have been done for. I was having flashbacks of my cycling (completely drunk) through the streets of Amsterdam after having one (or three) too many at my favorite pub. I quickly realized I'd need something else to help soak up all the alcohol and the solution came in the form of two delicious pretzels. Pretzels really are one of the quintessential components of drinking beer in Germany. And so that was that. My first beer experience in Germany was drawing to a close. I couldn't have imagined a better day: a sunny Sunday afternoon in the heart of Bavaria at one of the premier Brauhaus's in Munich (if not the world). More on the consumption of Bavarian beer to come...

Thanks so much for reading,


"Good for body and soul"

"Beer & Pretzels"

"Weisses Brauhaus"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Birrificio dei Magi Bigi

Well first off, hello. Hopefully you haven't been too broken up about my being absent. Apologies, but the road of travel is a long one and internet is not always readily available. As I write this update, I am sitting in the flat of my friend watching the cars pass through the green early summer leaves of Munich. Please note that I have of course been consuming lots of delicious hard to find brews throughout Italy and now in Germany and I have plenty of updates queued up. I've just been needing a solid couple of hours of internet access to finalize them and post them. So you can expect (at least) weekly posts of new beers for the next 5 to 6 weeks, oh and also a couple of reviews of some of Munich's finest Brewhouses. It has been really fun for me, I hope you find equal enjoyment as you read through the posts to follow...

To kick things off I am going to take us back to Italy. To Citta di Castello, where I spent two weeks working in the hills above the city. To my surprise, three days before I would be leaving I discovered that there was a small brewery. I never visited the actual location, but did enjoy a bottle of their beer in a wine bar. It is Birrificio dei Magi Bigi and they are an extremely new establishment. Their website is currently under construction but you can find them on facebook. Unfortunately without further access to information I cannot fill in details about the brewery, but since it is so new, I am certain there won't be many reviews floating around the web. The side of the bottle failed to provide a description of what kind of beer was to be experienced (at least none that I was able to decipher with my less than adequate Italian language skills). I actually like that I had no idea what I was about to discover before jumping in. Upon tasting the elixir, I immediately decided it should fall under the Belgian Style Blonde/Tripel classification. Without the alcoholic strength backing it up I felt it aligned more closely with the Belgian Style Blondes, but I also detected similiar flavours to that of some Belgian Tripels/Strong Ales. In any case, as more information becomes available, we'll find out exactly what they've decided to classify this mystery beer. Now let's proceed to the tasting notes...

Brewer: Birrifcio dei Magi Bigi
Name: Unknown
Category/Style: Belgian Blonde
ABV: Unknown
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: None
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 750 mL
Location Purchased: L'enoteca Syrah, Citta di Castello, Umbria, Italy

The Pour: Golden orange, light copper hues, head is white, some retention, some lacing.

The Nose: Bubblegum, bread and yeast, sweet and sugary, slight spice, quite inviting, quite fruity, smells like a Belgian blonde.

The Taste: High carbonation up front, yeasty and bready, not overly sweet. Body is medium a bit of spice and slight bitterness. Finish is slightly dry but not overly so. Very drinkable.

The Verdict: A really solid brew. Not too heavy, not too sweet, very well balanced. If I had to venture a guess, I'd surmise it would be a Belgian Style blonde or Tripel. The beer was high quality and just proves once again that Italy is up and coming in the world of beer :]

Thanks for reading!