TO ALL WHO CLAIM that more government is necessarily worse government, consider the shining city on a hill in Freising, Bavaria. Or shining complex, as it were. Plus the college that surrounds it. Whatever the distinction, it is the oldest operating brewery in the world, a capital of knowledge, hub of education, and all proudly owned by the state government of Bavaria for more than 200 years. It is Weihenstephan, home of Hefeweizen.
With a millennium of brewing history behind it, Weihestephan’s weissbier would necessarily a point of reference for the style’s growth and development. Happily, it also is a paragon of quality, not just for wheat ales but also the entirety of beer. In the constant press to innovate, expand, and outdo the competition, Weihenstephaner is a steadfast reminder of ageless fundamentals as pleasing now as they were centuries ago, and with only good prospects ahead.
Vested in its classic half-liter pillar of a glass, Weihestephaner has a fragrant nose of banana, a medium dose of clove, and the mild zing of the Hallertau hops (floral, a little lemon).The finely laced head is generously dolloped atop a golden orange pour, dense but lively. Proteins abound. A highly carbonated but not too airy entrance on the palate is followed by robust wheat, grass, and then banana esters to anchor its medium body: mature and balanced, neither green nor overripe. Unlike many American imitators, Weihestephaner suggest a substantial, almost bready texture without becoming cloying and still remains fairly dry in the finish. The relative sharpness of the bouquet also aids in balancing the fuller, more grain-heavy flavors of the beer itself. Served from a bottle, the beer tends to be very crisp with a spicy finish where the 5.4% alcohol finally signals its presence. Served on tap, those spices are succeeded by a joyously creamy texture that runs from the top of its frosting head to the last of its dregs. Either way, it is a delightful brew.
Served: 50 cl bottle