Craft beer is all about the ‘new’. Pushing boundaries, bending conventions, breaking barriers.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t embrace the classics. That’s what I’ve been doing this week, with the help of a bumper order of Belgian and German beauties from Beers of Europe.
Here are three gifts that keep on giving.
Schneider Weisse Tap 5 Meine Hopfenweisse
My experience of German beers is of class and refinement, with recipes honed over hundreds of years, dialled in to perfection.
But this hopfenweisse takes no prisoners, with more of the feel of a craft beer than I’d expected. It’s unapologetically huge, and a little rough round the edges.
It’s basically a double wheat beer, with the mouthfeel, hops and bitterness you’re now seeing in DIPAs, but with a huge sweetness and the banana, cloves and malt you get in a hefeweizen.
That sweetness can be a little overwhelming, with a 1-2 of peach and pineapple, and tons of stone fruit.
But if you want to go big, this is big.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen
This beer looks ancient and tastes like smoked ham. Which is to say it’s an acquired taste.
A classic rauchbier, with a bit of sweetness and lots of malt against subtle smoke, Schlenkerla and peanuts are made for each other. If I could photoshop a Tinder page where they are a match, I would, just to prove it to you.
A reminder that you don’t need to hunt down weird and wonderful new craft beers to find unusual styles.
Boon Oude Geuze Black Label
Picking out all the flavours in this beer would be like cracking the Enigma code. Every mouthfeel gives up something new – peach, tropical fruits, lemon, pepper, grapefruit, thyme, apple.
It’s tart, fizzy and dry with kaleidoscopic funk and is basically a bit fancy. I cracked a bottle for my birthday, and I suggest you do too.