Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ayinger - Braü-Weisse

As with most folks, my first dive into craft brewery (or any beer with flavor for that matter) was a witbier, with weisse beers and hefe-weizens not far behind.  These are the styles of beer that I have drinking the longest and I am always excited to try a new one or revisit an old friend.  Today's sample was Ayinger's - Braü-Weisse.  I was a bit more excited than usual because this appeared to be a more authentic offering than most; there were proper (not popularized spellings), it is German-made, and (I cannot stress this enough) there were umlauts on the bottle.  It is also important for me to note that the 2 of the 3 english phrases on the label were:

1.  Brewed in accordance to the "Reinheitsgebot" Purity law of 1516
2.  Authentic Bavarian hefe-weizen

Those are good signs!  Let's dive right in.

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only

Aroma 9/12
The hops are the first thing to jump out at you.  They are, of course, citrusy and sweet; greeting the nose but not overwhelming it with sweetness.  This lack of sweetness, everpresent with the style, is to be the theme for this beer.  There was not the smell of "banana" or "bubblegum" with this beer, but instead a sweet more acidic aroma associated with apples.  This is the first hint that makes me think I may not have received a fresh bottle from my retailer.  An aroma is still certainly present, but not the rich, sweet smell of an authentic hefe-weizen.  For the style, its a bit thin and acidic.

Appearace 2/3
A lovely, golden cloud filled my glass.  What more could you ask for in a weisse?  A head, it turns out, is the answer.  The ivory-colored head was fair in size (1 1/2 fingers), but it disappeared extremely quickly (especially for the style) and I was disappointed.  For a good hefe-weizen I expect a thick, rich foam on the top which reeks of the aroma beneath and remains with me for at least half the glass.  This was not the case; there was no lace and no retention.  This is the second hint that suggests I may not have received a fresh bottle.  You can see it ranks about a 20 EBC.
Picture my own.

Flavor 14/20
I am conflicted on how to evaluate the flavor of this beer.  One part of me says, "Its not as sweet as the style should be!  Where is the smell you love?  Where are the distinct flavors?"  The other part says, "Wow.  This beer did not try to overwhelm you with sweetness.  Its very well-blended and a more 'mature' entry of the style."  While, I was able to detect some floral hops, fruity esters, and a nice even balance to me the entry was almost sour in the mouth.  This is the third hint that I may not have received a fresh bottle.  I understand if a beer of this style would want to try something a little less candy-ish and more toward other European styles of cloudy beer.  But sour?  That taste has no place in a weisse and has been dudected points accordingly.

Mouthfeel 3/5
A light-medium body with ample carbonation.  I should like a heavier body in this style (complimenting the creaminess of the head and the sweet flavors in the beer), but having it a bit lighter does add to its drinkability.  As it stands, I could have had several of these if exclusively based on the mouthfeel.  No real warmth, but a bit of astringency.

Overall Impression 7/10
While I still certainly would not mind buying another pint of this beer, I cannot help but shake the feeling I have been swindled.  I have been swindled out of the beer-tasting experience that I expected.  I expected the most from an authentic variety of this beer, however the taste was not only muted (subtlety can be nice) but incorrect to an extent.

Total 36/50
I have mentioned it several times in this review and I'll say it again; I feel I may have received a bottle that was not at its peak freshness.  Several factors from the aroma and head, to the flavor and mouthfeel were just not right for this beer or this style.  As it stands, it is still a "very good" beer ("Generally within style parameters, minor flaws"), but it could definitely be delivering more.  A good Paulaner would kick the tail out of this sample.  That said, I will be more than happy to give this beer a second chance.  I even look forward to it.  Be assured that next time I will be asking the date when the shipment arrived.

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