That’s ‘Wheat Smokebeer’ to you and I. Yes Oktoberfest has long since been finished, I really can’t believe it has been nearly a fortnight already. Where the hell did the time go? Anyway, in memory of the passing days, here’s a review of one of my favourite beers from the Oktoberfest celebrations at The Tap House in Lancaster.
The guy behind the bar, affectionately nick-named Jesus for reasons that don’t add up at all, said that it smelled like bacon. A lot like bacon. Beer and bacon is surely a winning combination, but bacon-y beer? Naturally, it had to be tried. With more questions than answers, I ordered me a bottle and wasted no time tipping it into my glass. You could smell it at arm’s length. It was either going to be an amazing experience, or one I’d want to forget quickly.
- 5.2% ABV
- Brewed in Bamberg, Germany
- Comes in bottles (500ml)
- Historic style
- Brewed according to the German purity law of 1516
- Has won both the ‘CMA’ quality award and ‘best top fermented beer’ at the Hellsinki beer festival in Finland
Chocolatey and, yes, smokey like bacon or mackerel. There’s a wheaty smoothness and a nice long finish. I get fruity notes too, one reminiscent of raisins and other fresher fruit like banana. The bottle also cites clove notes, but to be honest I’m not sure what cloves taste like… I got a bit of herbiness, but because it’s a dark beer they don’t shine through as much as, say, the Jever Pilsener (for anyone who speaks the lingo).
There’s a nice light smokehouse smell, made up of expressive beechwood aromas. Subtly dimensional, pleasant for taste-hunters but could potentially be off-putting for the more ‘cautious’ drinker.
In the glass it’s dark and cloudy, just like a winter sky at night. The head quickly dissipated, so whereas it didn’t look particularly aesthetically pleasing, it was intriguing.
The bottle is in olde-style German, with Gothic fonts, unfurled banners and wax seals etc. It gives it an air of authenticity and groundedness in its history (speaking of which, the Schlenkerla website is a fantastic resource for finding out more about the history of the brewery and more). The label gives a good insight into what the beer’s about, plus it mentions its ‘sibling beer’, the Schlenkerla Marzen, which I think is better than the Weizen – just a little.
Value for Money
Another expensive one, which you’d expect what with being produced in another country. The taste was unequivocally nice, but I’d begrudge paying another £4.75 for 500ml, frankly.
Very unique for England, and I think it’s rare in Germany too, only being made in Bamberg. It’s very traditional: unfiltered, unpasteurised and bottle conditioned (so you could keep it a while). They’ve smoked the barley malt with beechwood smoke, but left the wheat malt as it is. I’ve never heard of that being done before myself. The Marzen version, which I prefer, smokes both malts and it really is the dog’s ‘nads.
It’s a shame it’s so rare and it’s a shame you have to pay so much for it, but I’d really recommend trying this or the Marzen. They truly are exceptional beers, there’s nothing else like them. As I’ve said, I just about prefer the Marzen style, but there’s not much in it, they’re both nice. It’s a lovely touch that the website is so well-developed, too, going into the history, the process and the setting in detail. I’m so impressed with it all that if I went to Germany I’d like to visit Bamberg and check it out ‘live’.
Final score: 70% (would be maybe 80% for the Marzen)