Going Foreign: Erdinger Weißbier
It’s summer time. The skies are blue, the grass is yellow and the patios are full. If you’re looking for a traditional deck companion, you’re often looking at a wheat beer. Sometimes called a white beer (like Rickards White), these use a large amount of wheat instead of barley, big surprise.
Of wheat beer, there are two main varieties. You’ve got your witbiers and the weissbiers. Fairly similar, the witbier is closer to a belgian style while the weissbier is closer to a pale ale, though style similar to belgians. There’s a difference, but it’s not a big one. Often unfiltered, they have a cloudy golden colour which always throws people. You can find many different versions, but I’m going with the most popular here.
While living in Germany I got hooked on hefewiezens. They were popular and really easy to drink. Not super strong, and with a strong citrus flavour. This is partly due to the fact that, for the most part, they’re served with a slice of lemon on the rim of the glass, which I always choose to toss in. Sometimes lime or orange stand in, but the vast majority go with the golden pucker fruit.
Over the last couple years there’s been a ton of these coming out. I link this to a common business plan I see with all the new microbreweries gaining strength. Since wheat beers have often been a rarity, they’re a bit special. Also, they provide a few flavours and styles to play with, so no two breweries are going to be exactly the same. At the same time, these beer makers like to do seasonal brews, especially for winter and summer, the two opposites. So for winter they come out with a bock or strong ale, and for winter they head in to the weissbiers. In other words, I’ve had bottles and pints from Vancouver Island, Granville Island, Spinnakers, etc.
However, there is one current king of the weissbier. I give Erdinger the crown for a good reason, they make and sell the most. While I don’t like to point out commercial success, I will here. But that’s it.
So, the beer that this company lives by? Not bad at all. I did it proper, with a slice of lemon. This gives it strong citrus flavours, since it didn’t sink well this time. It has a bit of spice flavour to it as well, though not too strong, which I appreciate since I’m not a fan of the strong Belgians. It tastes fairly different from a normal ale, which I attribute to the wheat and unfiltered-ness of it. I don’t know why, I just feel like I can taste the cloudiness. Does that make sense?
Oh, and the head. I think I could balance a penny on that. It’s like that really thick sea foam you see sometimes. I don’t normally mention the top, but this time it really did pop up. That might be due to the long haul in the bottle, but it seemed like the consistency is something unique to this ale.
Over all I’d say a bottle here and there would be nice, but I don’t think I could take an evening with this. Over time it’d become too much and I’d yearn for something darker and more beer-like, in either flavour direction, though I do have a few pints of other whites on occasion. However, I would suggest it for people wondering what a proper wheat beer should be going for. It’s not perfect, but it’s not experimental micro stuff or Rickards (bland) White, so share it with a newbie.