Feb. 14 this year brought another beer club event in the form of a beer tasting in Quidi Vidi Brewery’s hospitality room. It was a full house, with about 70 people.
In this case, it was a little bit different than previous ones in that the highlighted beers had not been offered already in a beer club offering.
Tom Beckett and I had ordered Weihenstephaner beer to use for a small event, but it didn’t show up until December, two months late. Sadly, there was no Weihenstephaner at Oktoberfest.
We had the beer, we just needed an event to go with it before the best-before date expired.
When we announced we had the beer, we saw some great anticipation. This is really no surprise, when you realize that Weihenstephaner is considered the oldest continuously operating brewery in the world.
It is documented that beer has been brewed on site since 1021 (yes, 1021). The Benedictine monks set up the abbey and started brewing; since then it has changed hands several times and is now a part of the university in Weihenstephan, north of Munich.
The tasting started with a glass of Quidi Vidi to quench the thirst and give people something to play with while waiting for stragglers to arrive. Once underway, the first beer was poured,
Houblon Chouffe is a Belgian beer that had come in with club offering No. 5 from Belgium. This is a nice complex beer of nine per cent that is a blend of two styles — IPA and a Belgian tripel.
In a small departure from previous tastings, the 500 ml bottles of the next beers were set on the tables for people to do their own pours. The first of these was the hefeweizen (translated as “yeast, wheat”), a classic German style wheat beer with very distinctive flavour profiles. It pours cloudy from suspended wheat and yeast with a big fluffy white head. The aroma gives off profiles of clove and banana, which are created by the yeast in the fermentation process by phenols and esters respectively. These are continued in the flavours which are best enjoyed fresh and cool.
This is my favourite breakfast beer; paired with French toast, the clove character goes with a sprinkle of cinnamon and the banana resonates with maple syrup. Yum!
The next beer was a dunkel weizen which translates to “dark wheat” and looks like a darker version of the Weiss. It is brewed with darker malts that impart subtle colour and flavour differences. A little more sweetness and a slight caramel flavour are readily noted and my palate tells me it might even be more tasty than a hefeweize with my French toast.
Finally, the Vitus was put out and looked lovely with its hazy golden colour between the pale straw of the hefeweizen and the reddish colour of the dunkel.
This beer is a weizen bock which is brewed to a higher level of 7.7 per cent alcohol by volume. As in the first two beers, the characteristic clove and banana flavours are evident, but there is more complexity from the increased malt content and the telltale warming feeling after swallowing brought on by the higher alcohol. This beer will cellar for a while longer than the others if you want to make it last.
The crowd was pretty lively by the end of the evening, talking among themselves about what they were trying. There were smiles all around.
I made my way around the room and chatted with many about how they enjoyed what they’d tasted. I think I may have made a few converts to having beer with breakfast.
Mike Buhler is a certified cicerone. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out beerthief.ca for information on beer club offerings.