I'm speaking of Aventinus, the weizenbock brewed by Schneider & Sohn. Aventinus was the oringinal weizenbock, the genesis of the style. And almost 100 years after its creation, most connoisseurs would agree it remains unsurpassed -- still the benchmark against which all others are judged.
Not only that, but Aventinus is the only weizenbock currently available year-round in Alabama (again, to the best of my knowledge). Good People brewed a weizenbock they featured at last year's Free The Hops Okotberfest, but that was initially a one-time release. We should all hope they make it a regular fall-seasonal.
If the style name rings a bell, it should. For it's no accident; it's an amalgamation of "hefeweizen" and "doppelbock." And it's a perfect marriage of the best those styles have to offer.
Before Aventinus was created in 1907, all doppelbocks were produced with bottom-fermenting lager yeasts. Long time readers of this column will know that lager yeasts produce smooth beers with minimal flavor contributions from the yeast.
Mathilde Schneider had an epiphany: use the same malts and brewing techniques used for doppelbocks, but ferment the beer with hefeweizen yeast. Instead of a smooth, subtle beer focused exclusively on the flavors of the malts, a feast for the senses was born, featuring flavors of chocolate, raisins, dates, bananas, cloves, caramel, black pepper, and more.
England has its imperial stouts; Belgium has its Belgian strong darks; Germany has its weizenbocks. All represent the ultimate expressions of complexity for their respective brewing traditions, and all are among the most sought-after styles for beer enthusiasts. The palate-pleasing result of carefully selected dark malts and estery, phenolic yeasts.
The reason Aventinus is so hard to find in Alabama is that it is only available on draft and in 500 ml bottles. Since 500 ml is equivalent to 16.9 ounces, it is 9/10th of an ounce over our state's draconian 16 oz package limit on beer. And to serve it on draft, a bar must have a special coupler used only for Aventinus kegs. Free The Hops will probably introduce a bill in 2011 to reform the package size limitation, so consider supporting that effort to put an end to this absurdity.
In the meantime, we are fortunate that Schneider & Sohn chose to package Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock in 11.2 oz bottles. It's Aventinus concentrated via freezing and removing some of the water in the beer. It's 12% ABV vs. 8.2% for the original, so it brings more alcohol heat. But the underlying beer is the same and many of the same flavors are there. It still has very limited distribution though; I've seen it at Vulcan Beverage, Dee's Package, and Highland Package. Let me know if you've found it anywhere else.
“Hopped Up” is a weekly brew review by Danner Kline, founder of Free the Hops and co-organizer of the annual Magic City Brewfest. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org