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Classic Beer of the Month July 2013: Schneider Weisse

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Schneider Weisse, 5.4%

It's unusual in these cosmopolitan brewing times for a brewery to concentrate all its efforts on one beer style. It happens, of course, in Belgium with the small lambic brewers, for example, but not so frequently among more commercial operators.

Schneider WeisseA standout exception is the Schneider brewery in Germany. This family-run, sixth generation business, housed close to the River Danube in northern Bavaria, throws all its eggs into the wheat beer basket. But the quality of its output guarantees that it's in no way a risky strategy.

Schneider is one of the great ambassadors for Bavarian weissbier. The business was founded by Georg Schneider, who, in 1872, acquired the first commoner's licence to brew weissbier from the Bavarian monarchy (for 200 years the royal family ran a profitable monopoly on its production).

Georg's first brewery was based in Munich, on the site where Schneider's showcase pub, the Weisses Brauhaus, now stands. His company later acquired a brewery in Kelheim, where the business totally relocated after the Munich brewery was bombed during the Second World War.

Today, Schneider produces an expanding range of wheat beers, from an alcohol-free example through blond and organic versions right up to the magnificent weizenbock, Aventinus, but it is the original Schneider Weisse that remains the bedrock of the business.

More Challenging

Schneider Weisse is somewhat darker in colour than most German wheat beers, thanks to the use of roasted malt in a grist that is 60% comprised of wheat malt. It's also a touch more challenging than many other varieties, with a refreshing touch of sourness on the palate.

Otherwise, it demonstrates all the features that weissbier fans love – lots of fruit and spice esters in both the aroma and taste, only a subtle bitterness (from largely anonymous Hallertauer Magnum and Tradition hops), and brisk, mouthfilling, spritzy carbonation that not only creates a deep crown of foam on top of the glass but also adds a prickle to the texture.

This is the result of 30 days' conditioning in the bottle before the beer goes on sale. Ten days at a warm 20º are followed by a further 20 days at 10º.

Baker's spices, banana, pear and bubblegum aromas waft from the glass to the nose before chewy flavours of sweet cereals, clove, pear and bubblegum wash across the tongue, all cut through by the refreshing sourness of lemon and green apple. Bubblegum and clove linger in the bready, dry finish.

In the summer months – as Germans who decamp to their biergartens and raise foaming vases of weissbier in greeting to friends understand – there are few more satisfying beer options. Schneider's is not only one of the best: it may be the best.



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