By most estimates, Germans are the third largest consumers of beer per capita, behind only the Czechs and the Irish. [1] Experts on the internet have estimated that if Bavaria was an independent nation, it would be top of the list.  A sure sign that Bavarians drink a lot of beer is that the rest of Germany is, apparently, holding them back.

Bavaria, according to the Oxford Companion to Beer, is “the undisputed cradle of the world’s lager beer culture.”  However, many major beer styles have emerged there including helles, dunkel, marzen, Oktoberfest, kellerbier, rauchbier, schwarzbier, bockbier, Hefeweizen and dunkelweizen. [2] Hefeweizen, cloudy German wheat beer, went on to become the world’s most popular wheat beer style.

However, the style also came close to extinction in the 1850s but was saved largely the actions of one man determined to keep hefeweizen alive.  The Oxford Companion tells the story:

“By the middle of the 19th Century, however, top fermented Weissbier had fallen out of favour with Bavarians who preferred the modern, somewhat cleaner tasting bottom fermenting lagers.  But Georg Schneider I, a brewmaster, continued to believe in Weissbier.  So he leased the once-profitable Weisses Brauhaus from the Wittelbach family in 1855.  At that time, Weissbier might have completely disappeared from the Bavarian beer map had it not been for Georg Schneider’s decision to keep the tradition alive in downtown Munich.” 

His brewery, G Schneider and Sohn, is still running and family operated with the seventh Schneider – Georg Schneider VI – currently in control. [3] Their most famous beers are Schneider Weiss (also known as Tap 7) and Schneider Aventinus (also known as Tap 6).  Both made Michael Jackson’s influential “Great Beer Guide: 500 Classic brews”, Schneider Weisse is the seventh most popular German wheat beer globally and Aventinus scores a rare 100 mark at RateBeer

In recent years, Schneider has broadened their range and Malthouse now has four of their Tap range, somewhat ironically, available only in bottles. [4]

Schneider Tap 7 Unser Original (5.4%) is made to the original 1855 recipe.  Slightly darker than most modern wheat beers, this full bodied drop has hints of ripe bananas, clove and nutmeg.  It was known as Schneider Weisse until recently. Schneider Tap 6 Unser Aventinus (8.2%) was named after Bavarian author and philosopher Johann Georg Turmair who called himself Aventinus.  Even Bavarians acknowledge he was “obscure”.  First brewed in 1907, this dark red wheat doppelbock is a flavour invasion – bananas, port, raisin, liquorice, pepper, plums and oak.  It is no secret I don’t drink a lot of wheat beer but this particular brew should be on every beer drinkers bucket list.  It used to be called Schneider Aventinus.  

Schneider Tap 5 Meine Hopfenweisse (8.2%) is a modern wheat beer style.  Like Aventinus, it is a reddish strong wheat doppelbock but the flavour profile then heads more into fruit (tropical fruit, orange and pineapple) and sweet.  A side by side tasting (probably with a friend in order to be responsible) is enlightening. Schneider Tap X Mein Nelson Sauvin (7.3%) is a beer I bought the second I saw it on the shelf.  I was intrigued as to why one of the world’s foremost wheat beer brewers would be using our Nelson Sauvin hops in a wheat beer, a style not normally noted for much hop character. 

It was first brewed in 2011 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ABT Cafes in Holland and the second batch was released in September last year.  The brewery notes the “beer’s name goes back to the variety of hops used for the brew.  So far this hop variety only grows in New Zealand and gives the beer its fruity wine-like aroma.”  The wine theme continues when they also say “it combines the distinctive full body of a typical Bavarian wheat beer with the elegance and internationality of a wine.”  It is an interesting drop – almost a take on fusion. 

Live music Sundays continue.  This weekend’s star is musician, beer lover, composer, raconteur and the man who helped bring back the beard, Mr Adam Page.  He will be performing with a couple of friends and Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Malthouse Proprietor and Gig Booker says there is “sure to be plenty of Surf Rock and audience participation.” 

Adam is an outstanding musician – usually on the saxophone but he can play household furniture – and entertainer.  At a previous Malthouse Sunday afternoon show he memorably led a conga chain of customers across the road and back, playing all the way as if he was the Pied Piper of Hamlin with a Kick Ass Beard.

Finally, it is time to announce one of the beers which will be available for the Darkest Day Dark Beer Celebration on 21 June 2013 at Malthouse.  8Wired Rastafari Stout (6%) is a Foreign/Export Stout which brewer Soren Eriksen created initially for MarchFest in April. In addition to being a quality hoppy stout, it has allowed bars, customers and stockists to break out all manner of Rastafarian references and lyrics.  The best example is when Eric Angus asked Soren on Twitter if the beer would contain “the hops cousin for I and I?”  Soren replied “Nah, just normal hops. But hops are just another herb, mon!”

Next time, we buy a drink for my computer’s spell checker which has understandably struggled today with words like Aventinus, zoigelbier and kiss ass beard.

[1] Some stereotypes may reflect elements of reality…

[2] If that list looks difficult, the Companion also notes that Bavaria is the homeland of “less common styles” such as zoigelbier, zwickelbier, landbier, dampfbier, erntebier, drinkelbier and roggenbier.”

[3] His son – Georg Schneider VII – is nicknamed “The Little Wheat Prince.”  His first words were allegedly “Schneider Weiss.” 

[4] It is like having DB Draught in a can only much, much, much classier. 

[5] Yes, these are all drug references.  Consult virtually any Bob Marley song ever for details.


Beer Writer
Beer and Brewer Magazine


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