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Today’s selection won the World’s Best Beer award in the 2011 World Beer Awards, also carrying the categories of World’s Best Wheat Beer and World’s Best Strong Wheat Beer. In 2014, it took Europe’s Best Strong Wheat Beer, with some other awards in the intervening years. Basically, this beer wins things.
Vitus is produced by the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, which, like many excellent European breweries, used to be run by monks—Benedictine, in this case. Weihenstephan claims to be “the oldest still existing brewery in the world,” dating from around 1040. Don’t know about you, but I find that impressive as heck. Especially since the brewery still produces really good beer; they’re not resting on their laurels, of which they have many.
So what’s a Weizenbock, anyway? Well, as you’ve probably gathered, it’s a wheat bock. The German Beer Institute describes it as “the strong version of an unfiltered Weissbier or Hefeweizen,” going on to explain that by law, it must contain at least 50% wheat malt, but often has “60 to 70%”; the rest is generally going to be “Pils, Vienna or Munich malts.” For you home brewers, it’s probably worth mentioning that Jamil Zainascheff and John Palmer advise against using large amounts of Munich in a Weizenbock, as it “seems too heavy.” One last note about the style: unlike many German beers, Weizenbock is not a lager. It’s brewed with an ale yeast.
Now, on with the tasting notes.
Pour/Appearance: (Ben) amber to straw yellow, slightly cloudy but mostly clear.
(Meagan) Dark golden beer, pretty obviously unfiltered, with a cream-colored, fluffy wheat head.
Nose: (Ben) Nose is light weizen, almost hefe-like. Some light fruit in the nose; maybe strawberry.
(Meagan) Wheat, hints of fruit. Similar to a hefe-weizen, but heartier.
Taste: (Ben) flavor has bubblegum notes and some other interesting wheat bits. Light and interesting; very soft.
(Meagan) Slightly spicy, probably from the wheat and the yeast. Fruit and spice (clove?) notes, as expected of the style.
Body/mouth feel: (Ben) Body is fluffy and creamy. Not as thick as a stout, but it has a peculiar wheat body. Chewy but not thick.
(Meagan) I’d probably describe this as medium-bodied; though the brewers would disagree. It’s not as thick as I’d expected from a bock, but then again, it’s a single, not a Doppelbock. And wheat imparts a certain light fluffiness, like good bread, as opposed to the denser, chewier product you’d get from barley.
Overall: (Ben) Fruity, soft, with a ripe fruit flavor that goes excellent with sharp cheeses as a counterpoint.
(Meagan) While the Vitus provided a refreshing companion to chili, that wasn’t really the best thing to pair with it. If I were trying it again, I’d probably have it with a charcuterie platter, which is closer to the brewery’s recommendation of “red meat” and “strong cheese.” At 7.7%, it’s no lightweight, but you won’t get much warning of that from the taste or mouth feel.
Bell, Katie Kelly. “Weihenstephan Vitus Named “World’s Best Beer“” Forbes 26 Mar. 2012.
Zainascheff, Jamil, and John Palmer. “Brewing Classic Styles.” Zymurgy 1 Nov. 2007: 42. Print.