Garret Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery, and Hans-Peter Drexler of the Schneider Weisse Brewery could be two of the most infamous brewmasters on this planet. They could also be two of the best. Each of their brewery’s exemplify what craft beer is all about. Their products reek of tradition, passion and expertise. Honestly, I love what these guys do. So how can you improve on their beers? Put these two geniuses in the same room and let them collaborate a beer taking traditional brewing styles from both countries (the US and Germany).
So what does this mean? Taking the love of hops from the United States and combining that with the weissbier prowess of Germany. Awesome. The concept that came to fruition was that together they would brew the same beer, but at both breweries – thus releasing two different versions, one in a classic 750ml Brooklyn Bottle from the Brooklyn Brewery, and the other, this, in a 500ml classic Schneider Weisse bottle. This is really the stuff that dreams are made of. Or, mine at least.
So what is this beer? It is kind of unclassifiable. Its a Weizen, with a good dosage of American hops. Some people call its a Weizenbock, but I really don’t think it meets the flavor profile. So I guess you call it exactly what Brooklyn and Scheider decided to; a Hopfenwiesse. It is 8.2% abv, and has changed the way that I consider what is possible from a wheat beer.
I grabbed the Hopfenweisse with great anticipation – I had enjoyed this beer when it first was released over a year ago, but it recently sprung into the LCBO (hooray!) during the Summer Release, so I filled a cooler with them and headed to the beach.
I opened it cold around 7C (45F) and poured it into a tall Schneider Weisse glass. A careful pour created a huge rumbling of life in the beer. Instantly you can see a bustling fight between a deeply hazy golden brown and copper orange beer and the frothy and foamy eggshell head that it is trying to create. Eventually what you are left with is a tall glowing beer that is completely hazy, has gold, yellow, orange, brown, red brick, copper and sunshine pouring out of it, and a 3 inch head that is sturdy, fluffy, very dense, and completely in charge. I hope you like beer.
The nose hugely aromatic and floral. It is spiced gently and brings soft banana, bubblegum, vanilla, lemon grass, citrus, fresh hops, tangy wheat, a touch of clove and a slice of orange. It is classic Scheider Wiesse, but is more potent, more hopped, and slightly fruitier. I don’t get orange off the original, and this shows greater spice and citrus flavors – most obviously due to the greater presence of hops. I expect that they hops here were mostly aroma hops added in at the end of the boil.
**Side lesson** When brewers add hops to beer, they typically add them during the boil. The earlier in the boil the hops are added (the longer they boil for) the more bitterness is extracted from them and imparted to the beer, but the less flavor you are left with. If the brewer adds the hops late in the boil (a shorter time being boiled) then the amount of bitterness that they actually contribute is minimized, but the flavor they add is enhanced.
Get ready and bring the tall glass to your lips. Open up and let a smooth and cooling wave of pure sunshine refreshment into palate. That was my first reaction, seriously. The Hopfen Weisse brings all the classic Schneider flavors in, but in a richer, creamier, and more refreshing manner. A clean and round sensation of vanilla, light banana, warm clove, pale malts, cinnamon and citrus floats over my tongue and cheeks opening me up for orange, apricot, flowers, lemon and orange zest and touches of clean white pepper. Bright caramel comes in the sides and glides easily over your mouth.
It shows a soft tartness brimming on fruit sweet, but is contained by added fresh bitterness. Maybe the original was missing this the whole time? I love the original, love it. But at a richer 8.2%, and with the quenching addition of fresh, earthy and zesty hops I may have fallen in love all over again! The mouthfeel of the beer is light and effervescent as you would expect, but it is now also a big bigger, and shows a beautiful balance between creamy and bubbly.
It finishes clean and crisp with the sweet hints of weissbier, and the fresh notes of hops. I am truly amazed by this beer and am thankful that I can go buy it now in Ontario. The Original Scheider Weisse was already such a great pairing with foods like seafood, breakfasts, light pasta, cheeses and more. But now with greater strength and added hop character you can add Mexican, Thai, and Indian food to your plate. Can’t wait!