Friday, June 25, 2010

Beer Review: Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, two beers in one bottle

Anticipation is a dangerous thing. We have all at one time anticipated the release of a new movie, read all the reviews, watched the interviews and then when we finally get to see the movie in question, it leaves us a little bit deflated. For the most part when we build up things in our mind we feel somehow let down when the reality is not as good as the hype. So would Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse live up to the hype?

Brooklyn and Schneider Breweries
combine to create the Brooklyner-
Schneider Hopfen-Weisse
I bought a bottle of this beer about a month ago and was waiting for a night when I could sit down and give it my full attention. Last week my wife gave birth to two beautiful twin boys and so the night before the gang were due home from the hospital I thought I would celebrate with opening the bottle of  Brooklner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse that had been patiently waiting for me at the back of my beer fridge. This beer is a colaboration between the Brookyn Brewery in New York and the Schnieder Brewery in Germany. For this collabarative brew, the Schneider Brewmaster Hans-Peter Drexler travelled to New York and worked with Brooklyn's Brewmaster Garrett Oliver. What they created was a hybrid beer, a pale weissbock, fermented with Schneider's yeast but dry-hopped with a combination of American Amarillo and Palisade hops.

I could actually have written two separate reviews for this beer as due to the size of the bottle, and the fact that it is bottle conditioned, I experienced two totally different tasting beers. Let me explain, with bottle conditioned beer it is normally advisable to pour slowly from the bottle and to pour the whole bottle in one go leaving the last half inch of beer in the bottle, this is normally done in order to leave the yeast sediment behind, this sediment is nomally an undesirable part of bottle conditioned beer. However due to the size of this bottle it was impossible to pour all of the beer in one go and so the first pour gave a light refreshing hop filled beer, while the second pour gave a yeast heavy beer, very German in character.

First Pour:
First Pour: a light and refreshing
hop heavy beer, very moreish.
The first pour gives you a glass of light golden beer, lots of carbonation and a thick white head. The aroma is dominated by the Amarillo hops used in dry-hopping. The aroma is beautifully complex giving hints of citrus, spice and sweet malt. The beer is very light and refreshing on the palate which belies its 8.5% ABV. It has a clean mouthfeel with a slightly sour aftertaste and a subtle orange flavour that I imagine comes from the yeast. It is very moreish. A stunningly good beer, very German in character but then the lovely American hops kick in to allow this beer to be elevated to a different level. This combination probably should not work, but Drexler and Oliver have combined to create something very special.

Second Pour:
The second half of this bottle is like drinking a totally different beer. This 'second beer' is dominated by the yeast which imparts a very strong orange aroma and taste. The look of the beer is also very different, very cloudy with lots of yeast sediment, almost milky in appearance. The mouthfeel is still clean but feels heavier bodied with a stronger sourness on the end. Still very enjoyable but unusual in that it is so different from the first glass. Although the second half of the beer was nice, if the whole bottle had tasted like the first glass this would have been a truly spectacular collaboration.

Second Pour: a totally different
look and taste.
I have to say again that anticipation is a very dangerous thing. I had been eyeing this bottle of beer for a month every time that I went to get a beer from the fridge and on a number of occasions I had to stop myself opening it. I wanted a night where I could give this beer my full attention. After the first taste I had seriously thought that I had found my ultimate beer. Both German and American beers are the styles that I enjoy the most and a beer that combines the best of both of these was always going to be a winner. However after tasting the second half of the beer I was truly confused. Perhaps another follow up tasting is in order so that I can fully understand this beer, for the moment I would highly recommend picking up a bottle. Maybe for the next tasting I will decant this beer into my growler, leaving the majority of the yeast behind, maybe then it will show me exactly what it is supposed to be.

For those interested in trying to replicate this beer good ingredients information is provided on the Brookyn Brewery website:

Style: Pale Weisse-Bock
Malts: Two-row German Pilsner Malt, German Wheat Malt
Hops: Williamette, Cascade, Palisade, Amarillo


Barry M said...

I'd like to try these, but pretty hard to find. I thought I might at least find the German-brewed version, but not yet. That one sounds great actually!

Mark (Halite) said...

Barry, it is great but at the same time a bit schizo, will definitely be picking up another couple of bottles, one to drink and one to hide away for a bit of time.

Billy said...

I have gone through a crate of Brooklyn Hopfenweiss in the last couple of months, and really love it. I actually prefer the second part of the bottle with the yeast. I've also got a crate of the Schneider one for Xmas, so looking forward to that as well.