Friday, August 20, 2010

004. Hail Julius!

Julius Echter by Wurzburger Hoffbrau

This time, I decided to travel back to the fatherland of beer. Bavaria. Now, I've had a lot of German beers and, for the most part, I think I have enjoyed more of them then I have disliked. But since I tend to like heavier beers, that's not really very surprising.

Unfortunately this also causes of a bit of problem. I don't think I've tried most of the german beers out there, but I have tried most of the popular ones. So the other day when i was in Spec's Liquor Store on Veterans Memorial Rd. in NW Houston, I found myself passing over many old, familiar faces (like Warsteiner and a variety of pilsners whose names elude me at the moment). After all, the purpose of this adventure is to try things that are new to me.

I was feeling a little recession-conscious, so I decided to limit myself to about a $20 budget. That meant picking out four bottles in the range of five bucks each. Fortunately, the beers in this range tend to be oversized pints, so I don't feel like I'm sacrificing too much for quality over quantity, if you know what I mean. After all, if it's good, I usually lament the fact that I'd like at least a second glass to finish my evening's libations.

One of the prizes I brought home from my trek to Spec's was a German Hefe-Weiss (yup, that's how it's spelled on the bottle). Now, I like some heffweisen beers, but I don't always love them. Often the wheat is overpowering and can have a bitter flavors of i don't like. These are probably the lambic styles, but I'm not sure. Some day I will figure out the differences between weissbier, witbier and lambic, but that day is not today.

So, for me this beer was a bit of a gample. On the one hand, I've had my share of heffweisens that I didn't care for, but on the other hand, there are some really great ones out there. All in all, I didn't feel like i was taking too big of a gamble off when i pick this one up: Julius Echter Hefe-Weiss.

The very first thing I noticed was that it had a medium smell. But I instantly forgot about that When I poured it. This thing has the most amazing head I have ever seen. Back in high school I was known as the master of the slow pour. No, really. I was really good at pouring a beer with just the right amount of head, and my skills have not diminished with age. I gave his to slow steady, pour... which did absolutely nothing to slow this thing down. I think the head was at least 6 inches.  And this is in an 8-inch glass! I honestly thought it was going to overflow. It didn't --but it came close.

Julius Echter Hefe-WeissA golden heffweisen with just a hint of wheat. A very mild color, a hint of yeast in both smell and taste. This is a nice, solid beer with a BIG head. I found the flavor got a little brighter as it warmed up a bit, but I left a few sips to reach oo temperature and found those to be a little bitter. So I recommend that you pour it cold or chilled.

Alcohol content: 4.9%
(according to this guy (who also happens to be from Houston, Texas)

NOTE: I took this photo less than a minute after I poured it. The head was really pronounced and very dense. 

I let it sit for a minute or two to let it go down, but it was slow going. I finally took a nice frothy sip and enjoyed the head dissipate and savored it on my tongue and in my nose. It is a pleasant experience. It had a nice hoppy smell and a nice grainy aromatic, but was not too strong (this was important to me, because too much wheat smell or flavor can really turn me off). I was predisposed to like it even before I took a sip.

And it did not disappoint. This is definitely one of the better heffweisen beers that I've had in a nice, long time. It was pleasant, not overpowering, with just the right balance between wheet and hops. There is a very slight citrus acid to it, which makes for a faint bite (heck, I'd call it more of a "love nip" than a bite). I enjoyed it and would definitely drink this again.

As for pairing it with food... I'm not really sure how to go. Of course, it would work with a hamburger or a steak and salad combo. Probably not the potato, though, because that might be too starchy to match well with this. Perhaps a pasta might work as another side. I think of this as more of a summer or autumn beer than a winter brew. At least for me, anyway. I suspect others (those who like lighter beers) would enjoy this on a cold night, but for me this is definitely something to sip during the heat of summer.

I give it a 6.5 out of 10, and I would not hesitate to buy this again if I were in the mood for a wheat beer.

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