The wheat beers selected for the tasting were (in order) as follows:
- Erdinger (Germany)
- Hoegaarden (Belgium)
- Franziskaner (Germany)
- Titanic Iceberg (UK)
- Weihenstephaner Kristalweiss (Germany)
- Schneiderweiss TAP7 (Germany)
- Paulaner (Germany)
- Estrella Inedit (Spain)
All the beers were well received apart from two, which were clearly rated below the others, rather surprisingly so too. The two beers that ranked lowest were in my opinion still very pleasant and slightly complex beers, perhaps more so than the other selection.
8th place – Titanic Iceberg (Titanic Brewery, Staffordshire): -9 points
This heavily hopped beer is very light at only 4.1% abv, but this was not to the liking of the bulk of the tasting panel. Common complaints were that it was slightly metallic, dry and too bitter, with the nose being slightly medicinal and almost like cannabis. It was by far the most diverse of the beers on offer, being much dryer compared to the sweet and fruity beers around it.
7th place – Franziskaner (Bavaria, Germany): -1 point
The current form of this beer was first brewed in 1974, heavy notes of cloves and bananas with a slightly spiced finish and some vanilla notes proved a little on the heavy side for some of the panel.
6th place – Paulaner (Bavaria, German): 0 points
A sweeter brew than many of the others, with yeasty hints proved to be very neutral with the tasting panel, it scored no points negatively or positively.
5th place – Hoegaarden (Hoegaarden, Belgium): 1 point
One of the most famous wheat beers in Europe with very floral and citrus notes, mostly coming from the inclusion of orange curacao peel proved to be fairly popular with the panel, but not overwhelmingly so. Many comments were positive, but not enough impact was made to lift it above a single point from a runner up spot.
4th place – Schneider Weisse Tap 7 Unser Original (Bavaria, Germany): 3 points
Possibly the heaviest of the beers in terms of colour, having a sepia-brown tinge in the usually yellow brew, fairly heavy also in terms of sweetness and flavour. A very complex wheat beer with spicy notes of clove, nutmeg and ripened banana, which lie over the top of a slightly ‘chewier’ body than the other beers. The panel gave a mostly generous review of this beer noting that it was softer and fruitier on the palette than the colour and body would note. It would be interesting to see how Schneider Aventinus (Tap 9) would have fared here!
3rd place – Erdinger (Bavaria, Germany): 4 points
Another very famous brew and available on draft in many pubs these days and in bottles from most supermarkets, it received a single vote as the best of the selection and two runner up spots, placing it high in people’s ranking. A benchmark wheat beer with a balance of spice, dry and sweet notes with citrus notes throughout, Erdinger proved a popular choice with the panel with no negative comments aside from a couple of people noting a neutrality in the beer compared to some of the others, labelling it as ‘inoffensive’.
2nd place Runner up – Weihenstephaner Kristalweiss (Bavaria, Germany): 7 points
The filtered wheat beer proved a very popular and well-balanced beer, slightly sweet with an abundance of fruity and crisp notes according to some tasting notes. Generally very positive feedback from the panel on this brew, although the question was asked of them, is it a psychological aspect of the beer being clear which means people are regarding it as lighter considering its relatively strong flavours and spiciness? The yeast would definitely add some body, but the fact remains this was the most frequent runner up and occasional winner for the panel.
1st place Winner – Estrella Inedit (Barcelona, Spain): 16 points
The beer brewed by Estrella and developed in tandem with Ferran Adria’s famous El Bulli restaurant (now closed alas) in Barcelona. This proved a winner in most panel member’s eyes, with a complex set of flavours ranging from citrus to liquorice and stages between, the demand following the formal portion of the tasting for this was almost insatiable. Sherbet, bergamot, perfume, rose water and Turkish delight notes were all noted in the tasting comments. This beer was actually developed mindful of pairing with food, but on the evidence of this event, it stood up to be drunk on its own.
There will be more tastings in the pipeline, both for beer and wine, so anyone with an idea or preference, please leave a suggestion below on this blog site, on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.
Stay tuned folks!