If there’s one thing that Germany seems to love it is adherence to tradition. Germans love their metal old-school and their beer made from just four ingredients: water, malt, yeast and hops. Which is the way its been brewed since the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law) was established in 1516. So for nearly 500 years Germany has more or less adhered to this “law,” even though breaking it in 2013 isn’t exactly going to get a brewer arrested. Instead of dinking around with mega-doses of hops, foodie ingredients and whiskey barrel aging, German brewers have perfected a handful of styles (primarily lagers).
For the North American craft beer-assimilated palate, these beers may seem boring. But there are some interesting brews to be found in the various regionally different styles. Wheat beers, which are actually ales, are primarily found in the southern Bavarian region of Germany and they are made with a yeast that imparts some pretty excellent flavors. People who may have tasted an American version of say a hefeweizen (cloudy wheat beer) that’s brewed with a conventional English ale yeast (such as Widmer’s Hefeweizen) are typically surprised by a German, or German-style, that is brewed with the proper Bavarian yeast. With the Bavarian yeast, you get interesting flavors of banana, clove and bubblegum.
So, imagine all those interesting, incredible flavors ramped up to bock or doppelbock strength. (Bock is a strong lager style at 6% ABV and doppelbock is an even stronger version at 8% ABV.) Then you have what’s called a weizenbock, a robust, (typically) dark ale with loads of flavor and a fair bit of sweetness. This is a true sipper, but man is it flavorful. We love this style of beer in the cold months of the year, and certainly one of our favorites is Schneider Aventinus. You can imagine our unfettered glee, then, when we discovered a local liquor store with bottles of Aventinus Eis Weizenbock 12% ABV!
Eis Bock is a style you rarely see in North America. We’ve talked about it a bit in a previous Deciblog post, but even rarer is an eis weizenbock. This style is made by brewing a weizenbock and then lowering the temperature on the fermented beer to a point where some of the water content starts to freeze. Since alcohol freezes at a much lower temperature, once the ice is removed, the beer becomes more concentrated and the ABV goes up. This is also known as freeze distilling, and it’s the same process BrewDog and others used to make “beers” that were like 56% ABV. But at a strong, yet reasonable 12% ABV, this 16-oz. bottle is a true cold-weather treat.
It’s drinking a special beer like this that we appreciate just how goddamn obsessed with tradition the Germans are when it comes to brewing. They can keep Doro Pesch, but if you see a bottle of this, we suggest you grab it.
Adem Tepedelen’s new craft beer book, Decibel Presents the Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers: An All-Excess Pass to Brewing’s Outer Limits, is now available in the Decibel online store.