In a couple of months I’m headed back to Germany (and quite a few other places too). In order to help calm my excitement I thought I would do some comparing and contrasting of a couple of the more predominant weissbiers from Bavaria. As I’ve stated before, I believe beer and travel are paired very well as it’s a way to get in touch with a destination. Also for me personally, it’s way to help keep my angst from my lack of time off from work at bay.
Weissbeer (or Hefeweizen) is a type of beer typical of Southern German brews all centered around Bavaria. This is the kind of beer that if you leave Munich without tasting a few, I’ll be very sad. Most beer drinkers have heard of Paulaner Hefe-Weizen. It’s world famous and one of the most popular beers of the style both in and outside of Germany. However, some might not have heard of Hacker-Pschorr’s Weisse. Hacker-Pschorr is of course, a combination of two breweries, Hacker and Pschorr that merged back in the 70’s, with the oldest of the two (Hacker) going all the way back to 1417. Try that on for size America! Funny enough, Paulaner actually ended up purchasing Hacker-Pschorr and several other breweries, but has kept a mostly hands off approach to the beer. They continue to operate as two separate labels, but under the same umbrella.
So how do the beers taste?
Look at that wheaty goodness.
If you haven’t had Paulaner, I highly recommend you go out and do it. It’s something that epitomizes what hefeweizens have to offer and has become an icon of Munich’s breweries. For those of you that haven’t tasted it and for the sake of comparison I’ll describe the brew. Typical of hefeweizens, Paulaner pours in a murky orange color, that comes from the high quantity of wheat in the beer. Most of this beer type emphasize flavors of banana and clove, and I would say that neither really dominates in this specific brew. It’s just a strong and balanced flavor over all that dominates both the sent and taste of the brew in a way that is rather filling. There are lingerings of smoke to the flavor as well but it’s very subtle. Overall, the flavors are well mixed and neither seems like it’s trying to cry out at you, which is a good thing. The beer is really good.
Yeah, I know it’s in a Guiness Glass. Tisk, Tisk.
Poured from the bottle, the Hacker-Pschorr’s Weisse looks very similar, maybe slightly darker. You have to keep in mind that these brews were originally mastered by monks so the art behind making these kind of beers was similar by the region, although I’m sure there was some competition between brewers. Hacker (purchaser of Pschorr) has been around since 1417 which supersedes the German Purity law and is one of the oldest breweries in the world. Because of that, I think the taste is a bit more defined that the Paulaner, however I think the majority of people will prefer the Paulaner because of this. There is a noticeably more smokey / toasty flavor that accompanies this weissbier but it goes down very smooth. I would also say that the banana notes that are typical of the style and are dominant in the Paulaner and especially another Bavarian brew, Fanziskaner (tastes like Bananas Foster), are suppressed a bit more in Hacker-Pschorr. And with that shift in balance, comes a more of a clove / apple-cinnamon flavor. Overall, this is something that fewer people have tasted, but much more need to. It’s fantastic!
Have you tasted either of these brews? What did you think? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you guys!