When I was first beginning to plunge into the world of real beer the Schneider Weisse Aventinus was among the first beers that proved to me that this would be a worthwhile adventure. George Schneider first brewed the Aventinus in 1907 in Germany as a wheat-doppelbock, and since then, it has achieved the highest accolades amongst its strong beer brethren.
First, let’s take a moment to define this unique style of beer. A wheat beer is typically brewed with a large proportion of wheat to malted barley. In the German case, as we are discussing, they are always top-fermented, and hence are always ales. Wheat beers generally are very effervescent, refreshing, lively, and show flavors of clove, spice, vanilla, banana, and light fruit. A doppelbock is a classic German Starkbier (“strong beer”). A doppelbock is a lager (bottom-fermented) brewed with a large amount of rich, and usually dark malted barley. They emerged in the late eighteenth century as a variation on the old monastic strong beer brewed by monks to help them get through the Lenten season. Doppelbocks are generally very rich in malt sweetness, dark fruit, chocolate, and are rarely if ever bitter.
What Schneider Weisse has done is created a top-fermented and bottle conditioned Wheat-Doppelbock! I know, big mouthful. But consider the light and refreshing characteristics of a wheat beer matched with the rich powerful flavors of a doppelbock. They have created a beer with amazing spice, excitement, complexity, and a hugely quenching body.
One day it had occurred to me that I had never had the original Aventinus paired directly with the Aventinus Eisbock (the Aventinus’s more concentrated and potent brother). So without hesitation my roommate and I jumped over to the LCBO to grab a few of each, and prepared our palates for what I expected to be a thumping of flavors!
Aventinus Original (8.2%)
The original Aventinus comes in a classic German 500ml dark bottle with a rich gold and purple logo which bears G. Schneider & Sohn’s original portrait logo. Luckily, I have two Aventinus glasses, which really are my favorite beer glasses, and only are graced by the Aventinus itself.
Because of the wheat beer roots of the Aventinus, the pour should be smooth and gentle. A lot of excitement brews immediately in the beer as a white airy and pillowy head begins to develop and peak just above the rim of the glass forming a perfect two inch head. Still now there are a lot of bubbles pouring up from the beer hinting at its vibrant mouthfeel; however they do not help the head retain its life, and it will slowly fade to a mere film on the surface of the beer.
The color is a deep, opaque mahogany purple – very close to a reddish brown, ruby like, and very hazy. The nose is so excellent! It’s filled with cloves, spice, bananas, rich plums, deep malt, bubblegum, and brown sugar. The nose on the Aventinus makes me want to dive right into the beer. I swear, no beer smells as appetizing as this – my mouth is watering right now!
And truthfully, as the nose promised, the flavor is so enticing: immediately you are hit with the richness of over ripe plums and dried fruit; spices like clove and coriander come at you from every angle; roasted malts and bittersweet chocolate float over your tongue; bubblegum and bananas mix with vanilla across the top of your palate creating a balance of smoothness at the perfect instance. The whole while, the crisp and quenching mouthfeel of the beer, which I can only describe as effervescent, makes the richness and caramel undertones of the beer just tingle on your palate. The carbonation opens you up for every sip! There’s no bitter in the beer, and as it warms it really open up the floodgates and more rich malt and fruit comes out.
It’s very satisfying, very quenching, uniquely complex, and an incredible treat to enjoy. I can’t say enough good things about this beer – every time I have it I am reminded of why I love real beer so much. The combination of flavors in the beer also makes it a terrific pairing with so many foods. Almost anything rich that has been grilled or seared is going to be great, rich tomato pastas and lasagna, hearty cheeses and thick soups work brilliantly too. The best may be desert though; flourless chocolate cake with a plum and raisin reduction sauce is the ultimate pairing for this game-changing beer.
See part 2 for a tasting of the Aventinus Eisbock, and a head to head comparison against the original Aventinus.