The Hops: Weizen Up

  • Brewer: Georg Schneider & Sohn of Kelheim, Germany.
  • Style: Weizenbock.
  • Alcohol content: 8.2 percent ABV.
  • Food pairings: Dan Klenske, the assistant general manager at Atlas, said Aventinus pairs well with pork schnitzel served with brazed red cabbage and apples.
  • Where to buy: John’s Grocery and most area Hy-Vee’s. It is also on tap at Atlas and Red’s Ale House in North Liberty.
  • Price: $4-5 per 500 ml bottle and $17 per four-pack.

To me, November falls in a gap between seasonal beer styles. It does not fit as well within the autumn brewing tradition as October, and it’s too early for holiday/winter ales. However, colder weather brings the craving for dark beers full of roasted chocolate and coffee malts, so my November recommendation needed to be a balance between seasonal traits.

Aventinus is an excellent beer to drink during the pause between seasonal releases. As John’s Grocery beer guru Joe Hotek said, Aventinus not only satisfies the thirst for something winter-like, but also offers summertime sweetness and fruit.

If there is beer in heaven, Aventinus is probably on tap. Introduced in 1907 by Mathilde Schneider, the only woman to head the famous Schneider & Sohn brewery, Aventinus is a doppelbock version of a dunkelweizen, which makes it twice as alcoholic and warming. Ideally poured into a weizen glass (the proper drinkware for all wheat beers), the color is an attractive and cloudy dark caramel brown. Three fingers of thick, slightly tanned foam develops and dissipates slowly to leave a billowy cap.

Aventinus’ hybrid characteristics shine through in the smell. Tinged with clove spiciness, a sweet aroma of ripe bananas and apple dominate the first whiff. Hanging out in the background are dark fruits (mostly plum), black licorice and just a slight hint of chocolate and roasted caramel. Yeasty and bread-like, as all proper wheat beers are, the taste is perfectly smooth. After a sharp, brandy-like edge, the flavor complexity emerges: ripe banana, apple, caramel, and an orange and lemon zest. The chocolate and roasted caramel from the smell are also present, but play minor roles.

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