Re-tasting some German AND American Summer wheats Round 2
So, having nothing better to do I continued my blind re-tasting of some prominent wheat beers.
From the round one tasting, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/908645
the two beers scoring highest blind were Ayinger Hefe Weisse and Konig-Ludwig weissbier. So I included them in this blind tasting. The full beer list was a combo of German and American wheats:
Ayinger Hefe Weisse
Erdinger Hefe Weisse
Franziskaner hefe Weisse
Hofbrau Hefe Weisse
Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
Blind tasting comments:
Beer 1: Slight skunky edge, otherwise satisfying
Beer 2: Yuck
Beer 3: Okay, mild spice. Good but not great. I prefer Beer 1 at this point.
Beer 4: Better than Beer 3, about even with Beer 1, not quite as interesting as Beer 5
Beer 5: Okay ++ A favorite
Beer 6: Okay
Beer 7: Spicier than 6, otherwise about even with it. Prefer it slightly over 6 due to the spice element.
To this point the 3 top favorites are: 4, 5, and 7.
In final blind tasting of these 3 beers: 5 is slight but clear winner. 4 and 7 are about even. 5 is SN Kellerweis, 4 Franziskaner, and 7 Konig-Ludwig.
Revealing all the beers:
5: Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
Of those listed I prefer the Franziskaner and the Ayinger. Both very well done traditional Bavarian wheat beers in my opinion. I would have added the Paulaner as well. Surprised that you thought the Hofbrau was so terrible and surprised also that you enjoyed the Boulevard so much as I find it almost undrinkable. Are you sure you didnt switch the glasses? ;) I do agree the SN Kellerweis is enjoyable. I like a fresh Pyramid wheat beer as well as far as american wheats go.
re: Insidious Rex
Boulevard is unfiltered, that might have something to do with our palate differences.
And I've always liked it ON TAP. But these were from bottles and there was a slight skunk dimension that hit me up front, then dissipated. I can handle that if it's momentary and the rest of the flavors evolve nicely.
Paulaner was tasted blind in round 1:
Brew #2: "A little drier and punchier than Brew 1... not crazy about the taste... In comparison it brings out very slight lemony notes in Brew 1..."
I was surprised by Hofbrau too... it was so dramatically worse than any of the others, and the only one I really couldn't take another sip of... maybe I had a bad bottle? I also noticed how clear it was, like super-filtered for a hefe-weisse compared to all the others, maybe they just filter the flavor right out?
Will definitely check out Pyramid.
Yes I have noticed that about Hofbrau brews. Their oktoberfest is barely an oktoberfest as well. Very light body. And light on that traditional oktoberfest taste I expect (toasty bready maltyness that just reminds you of fall...). I think they lightened up some of their product to appeal to the masses at Oktoberfest every year and apparently its working because they are selling more and more beer Im told. But in the process the definition of a true marzen has changed unfortunately as many other german brewers seem to be trending that way as well although not to the same extreme. It seems like 20 years ago when I got an oktoberfest it tasted like a lager with serious heft. Now a lot of them seem to taste like a crisp golden lager with little body.
re: Insidious Rex
When you're drinking more than a couple liters of the same beer in a sitting, you want something that is a bit more balanced, drinkable, and less cloying than a traditional marzen. Most american craft beer drinkers tend to overlook/don't appreciate this aspect of drinking beer though.
I was under the impression that these were one in the same but that the proper (traditional) name for the style was marzen (Märzen, "March Beer"). It seems strange to me that the original beer served at the original Oktoberfest was a marzen but now a marzen is not an Oktoberfest (or Fest) beer? Cant keep up...
re: Insidious Rex
Traditionally (which means whatever you want it to mean along the timeline of said tradition I guess) Marzen was brewed in March - which was the last month that the weather allowed good beer to be made before refrigeration. The stocks were sold off all summer long - and during the Oktoberfest celebration the last of the marzen stocks were "blown out" making room for the beers of the new brewing season in the fall.
From what I understand the richer, darker marzen beers are mostly made for US consumption these days - and its the style that most US craft brewers try to emulate. The ones I enjoy each year in this style are Paulaner (although they offer both types in the US now - and maybe a 3rd?) Hacker Pschorr, and Spaten.
The festbier I drank (Hacker Pschorr) at Oktoberfest in munich was lighter than the version sold in the US and somewhere between a marzen and a helles in color - I was quite surprised at the hop flavor/bitterness as I was expecting something with lower hopping rates. It was kind of like the lighter flavored Beck's Oktoberfest (before it was brewed in NY anyway -didn't try it last year), but a little drier/hoppier. But that is just one example, festbiers like Lowenbrau (discontinued in my area unfortunately - loved those keg cans), Hofbrau, and Warstiener (from a bit farther north than the munich breweries) are on the lighter side of the spectrum.
Personally I enjoy both types and everything in between - I have learned not to attempt to try to fit square pegs into round holes when it comes to oktoberfest biers, and just enjoy what I am in the mood for.
I am kind of amused by the pushback by beer geeks when marzens and festbiers get released in August saying they are too early. I get that people aren't looking for a thick, rich, malty tasting beer in the heat of the summer in the US, but it at least has some kind of historical basis of being sold in the summer months - unlike Pumpkin beers. I find summer beers released in the winter and then dissapearing or getting stale in August a much bigger offense. And a lighter festbier can be quite drinkable and refreshing when its served cold - not much different in drinkability than most craft pale ales, ipa's, and other styles beer geeks enjoy in the summer.
I just learned that Boulevard wheat contains Summit hops which to me taste like a combo of garlic and sweaty gym socks (or what I would imagine sweaty gym socks to taste like from their aroma). Maybe that's the skunky edge you are noticing. I still enjoy that beer because that flavor is somewhat subdued. Widmer Drifter (RIP) was a beer that did an awesome job making that hop work.