ONE HALF OF THE MIGHTY MONK throwdown of German Hefeweizen (the other half being Paulaner), Franziskaner Brauerei lays claim to a centuries-old tradition of wheat beer-brewing in the Teutonic capital of beer–Munich. In other words: a fairly typical profile for a German brewery concern, but one we should still never take for granted. To wit, in 2003 Franziskaner and parent company Spaten-Löwenbräu-Gruppe were acquired by InBev (then still Interbrew), and could well have led to a 21st century facelift that would have erased all the wrinkles of character only time can accrue. Thankfully, the conglomerate largely contended itself with revamping their marketing–finding an actual human to supplement, but never supplant, the avuncular monk in the logo–while leaving the brew itself alone.
And good that they did. Though not quite at the peak of what Germany has to offer amongst Hefeweizens, Franziskaner is still a high-quality touchstone for the style and broadly available for a reasonable price (prost, In-Bev). A beaming gold, Franziskaner falls about in the middle of the Hefeweizen color spectrum and is crowned with a copious head several fingers deep that kicks up decent lacing in the glass after each draught. Thoroughly carbonated, the light-bodied beer sparkles at the open before transitioning smoothly to a midpalate of pale malt and wheat, mild in flavor but broadly dispersed. Esters are present, though their banana edge only appears about 40% of the way through the flavor before wheat, gentle caramel malts, and light citric notes reassert themselves. A little spice and clove thereafter, but not enough to disrupt the creamines predominant throughout. A modest amount of yeast complements this latter portion, but the finish is so effervescent as to dispel all traces of grain and leave the mouth clean and clear with no trace of its 5% ABV. The phenols and purity of the water in the finish are as clear an indicator of Franziskaner’s German providence as the name itself. The combination results in one of the milder offerings in the style and an excellent choice to stand alone on a sunny day—substantial flavor but still easily quaffable. Also pairs well with roast pork and lemon-herbed chicken.
Note: For those with even rudimentary German skills, Franziskaner’s website is a trove of information–videos, recipes, history, brewing technique–and a prime example of Germany’s Bierkultur at its reverent apogee.
Served: 12 oz bottled April 3, 2013 (L093316)