One of the hardest things about exploring wine and beer from other countries is the difficulty of actually reading the label. It can make people nervous and afraid to actually improve their palate and try new things. Even though I work in a liquor store I still have a few fears when trying new products. My co-worker Ben and I decided to have a little "Oktoberfest in August" tasting to actually sample some of the beer we have been curious about but nervous to try. Heres the lineup:
Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel
Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbier
Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel
My favorite of the night was Kostriker or Kostritzer Schwarzbier, a german style black lager (schwarzbier explanation). It had a roasty aroma and taste that was lighter for a dark beer and the cleanest finish ever. It really tastes like the last part of your Cocoa Krispies when the cereal is just soggy enough and the milk turns into chocolate milk. That full bodied delicious chocolately-ness is the best part of the whole bowl of cereal, and this might be the best black beer I have tried recently. I also like the Sprecher Black Bavarian and Sam Adams Black Lager, but the Kostriker is an inexpensive way to take a trip to Germany and enjoy every sip. This would be a perfect beer for someone easing their way into drinking darker beers.
Being a hefe-weizen fan I couldn't wait to try the Erdinger Weissbier(wheat beer). It is full bodied with an almost sweet aroma and taste. Great wheat beer finish with no maltiness. Still has the german beer smell and feel and isn't as fruity as most american style wheat beers. We also sampled the Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel which just means dark wheat beer. It seemed to have a heavy maltiness to it and tasted somewhat burnt. To me it had good qualities like the regular hefe, but as if the ingredients were left on the stove a bit too long. Kind of intense in a bad way.
Last, but certainly not least, we tasted a few brews from Weihenstephaner. It's the oldest known brewery in the world making beer since 1040. Honestly I didn't learn a whole lot of history in school and college, but take the virtual tour of this brewery and learn more about the origins of beer. It is a little long winded but pretty neat. I have tried a few of their beers and the Kristal Weissbier totally woke up my taste buds. Pours really bubbly and incredibly clear..clearer than any beer I have seen before. Almost looks and tastes like a glass of champagne or sparkling wine. The aftertaste of this heavy beer is sweet and semi-sour, but thirst quenching. Keep in mind that even though we are certified purveyors of the High Life, "eat your heart out Miller cause the Kristal Weissbier is the champagne of beers!-Ben" This beer could easily be the toast of your next beer tasting or new year's celebration! Weihenstephaner's dark wheat had great flavors of milk sugar and chocolate. This hefeweiss dunkel had much better taste than the Erdinger we tried earlier in the evening.
My conclusions from this tasting are simple. German's know their beer and people shouldn't be afraid by the labels. When you break down the labels and do some research it is much easier to feel comfortable in the import beer section. This Oktoberfest style beer tasting was an awesome idea, all we were missing were brats, music, these girls and enough beer to make us look like those guys...until next time, Cheers!