Tag Archives: Wheat beer

Epcot German Beers a Big Hit

This past weekend I helped celebrate the birthday of one of my most dear friends at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. This annual event has been going on for 16 years and has just gotten bigger and better each year. But, don’t let the name fool you, wine is not the only adult beverage featured at the festival; there is also a significant amount of beer from around the world available.

If you have never been to Epcot, let me give you a brief overview. The original concept of the park was for it to be a self-sustaining community in which people worked, lived, and played. However, after the death of Walt Disney, the plans changed to a more theme-park approach. The park is broken into two main areas; Future World, which contains pavilions dedicated to Space, Energy, The Seas, The Land, Imagination, and Test Track. The second section of the park is the World Showcase with pavilions themed to specific countries like Mexico, China, Norway, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, France, England, and Canada. It is in the World Showcase that the Food & Wine Festival is held. During this festival, other countries are represented through food and drink as well as the permanent countries.

I met my friends at 11:00 near the giant geodesic ball called Spaceship Earth in the Future World section of the park. We checked the festival guide and made our strategy for the day, deciding to attack the World Showcase starting on the Mexican side of the lagoon. The Mexican pavilion was serving Dos Equis beers, nothing spectacular, so we moved on. It was early enough in the day that the throngs of crowds had not arrived yet and we were able to stroll in a leisurely fashion from country to country. A stop was made in China for some Salt and Pepper Shrimp on Sichuan Noodles and Pork Pot Stickers. China was serving Tsing Tau beer, but I passed knowing that ahead lay the Germany pavilion and it’s Bier Garten.

We stopped at Germany and decided it was time for a few beers. The Bier Garten was sponsored by the Radeberger Gruppe, a German beer company whose goal is to maintain the traditions of German beer-making by allowing breweries to remain autonomous in their regions. This is in stark contrast to many beer conglomerates who outsource brews to the least expensive producers or opt to change traditions by using cheap ingredients. Radeberger Gruppe sees itself as a guardian of authentic German beer culture and holds the traditions of the past in the highest of esteem.

Eight beers were on offer and I first opted for the three-beer flight of Sion Kolsch, Hovels, Braufactum Roog.

As any true Kolsch should be, Sion is brewed in Cologne and because of that it is legally protected to be able to use the term Kolsch. Sion uses pale barley and wheat malts to produce a very pleasant and interesting flavor. The nose presents sweet malts and subtle hops while the texture is crisp with a pleasant fruity flavor that gives way to biscuit malts and a slight hop finish.

Braufactum Roog is a Smoked Wheat Ale that combines the flavors of a wheat ale with the smokiness of malts that have been roasted over beechwood. Not quite as smoky as a rauchbier, but the smokiness is readily apparent in its aroma. The brew pours a deep reddish-brown and rewards the taster with a smoky, almost meaty flavor with juniper and orange zest, as well as hints of banana.

Hovels is a unique beer that defies categorization. It is a top-fermented beer brewed at Hovels Hausbrauerei in Dortmund, Germany from a recipe developed in 1893. This beer pours amber red with strong citrus aromas and caramel malts. The flavor is reminiscent of caramel, bread, and dark raisins with a semi-dry finish.

After the sampler I also wanted to try the Schofferhofer Weizen a relatively new beer first produced in 1978. This tasty brew has won many awards and is often referred as the champagne among wheat beers. As a true German Hefeweizen Schofferhofer pours pale and hazy with a sweet floral aroma. The flavor is what you would expect from a hefeweizen and is rich in yeast, clove and slight lemon zest.

Finally, after hitting a few more food stands, we returned to Germany to try the Braufactum Indra, a German IPA made with wheat as well as barley malts while still adhering to the German Purity Law of 1516. This excellent brew is dark orange in color and greets you with pleasing aromas of banana and cloves as well as earthy notes. The flavor is honey, blood orange, and herbs with the bitterness typical of an IPA.

Other beers that were available at the festival were more typical of the countries they were served in. The Belgian tent was serving Stella Artois, Hoegarten, and Leffe. The Moroccan pavilion had Casa. And Italy had Moretti. England was serving the usual Guinness, Bodingtons, Bass, and Harp while Canada was serving Moosehead. There was also a Craft Beer tent serving a selection of beer like Abita Purple Haze and Blue Moon.

The Epcot Food & Wine Festival concludes for this year next weekend, so if you want to drink around the world, I suggest you head to Orlando this weekend.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!


Marc Wisdom

1 Comment

Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Beer, Beer Styles


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Wheat, Its not Just for Bread Anymore


Image via Wikipedia

Often associated with the warmer weather of spring or summer, wheat beers are a refreshing and tasty treat to many beer lovers. In recent years the appeal of these warm weather quenchers has really caught on with the popularity of Blue Moon and Shock Top. But, wheat beers are nothing new. The style has been around hundreds, even thousands of years. So, let’s delve into the origins and styles of these popular brews and see what we can learn.

While I was in Belgium last month I had the opportunity to sample several wonderful wheat beers in both the Belgian and German tradition. In Belgium, wheat beers are most usually called witbier, which means white beer. The Germans call their white beer weissbier. Both the Belgian witbier and the German weissbier were termed “white beers” because historically they are pale unfiltered and have a hazy appearance due to the type of yeast that is used in brewing. Belgian white beers are often made with raw unmalted wheat, as opposed to the malted wheat used in other varieties. The two styles, while similar in appearance are different in how they are brewed and how the finished product tastes.

Belgian wheat beers are often flavored with spices and fruit. Most commonly the Belgians add coriander and orange peel. This style of beer is brewed mainly in Belgium but there are examples from the Netherlands as well. The brew gets its name from the yeast and wheat proteins suspended in it that causes a hazy or white appearance. Witbier is a descendant of medieval beers that were brewed and preserved with a blend of spices, florals, and herbs in the place of hops. This mixture of aromatics was known a gruit and is still in use today, though mainly consisting of coriander, orange, bitter orange, and hops now. Hoegaarden is an excellent example of this style of brewing. Most tasters who try Hoegaarden will say that they can taste cloves, citrus, and a hint of banana. This beer is refreshing and easy drinking. If you have not tried one, you owe it to yourself to head to your local grocer or liquor store and pick up a six-pack.

The German term weissbier refers to several different types of wheat beer including hefeweizen a traditional, unfiltered wheat beer and kristallweizen or kristall weiss a wheat beer that is filtered to remove the yeast and wheat proteins from suspension. The hefeweizen style is particularly noted for its low hop bitterness and relatively high carbonation, considered important to balance the beer’s relatively malty sweetness. Another balancing flavor note unique to hefeweizen beer is the result of fermentation by top-fermenting yeast. Hefeweizen’s taste characteristics are often described as clove and medicinal but also smoky. Other more typical but less assertive flavor notes produced by weissbier yeast include banana, bubble gum, and sometimes vanilla.

Some prominent commercial examples of hefeweizen Paulaner, Tucher, Franziskaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Ayinger (Bräu Weisse), Magic Hat Circus Boy, Samuel Smith Brewery and Widmer Brothers. The style is currently consumed throughout Germany, but is especially popular in its Southern German homeland.

Beers I Have Been Drinking

Bold City Fritz Hefeweizen

This is a golden pale wheat that pours cloudy and with a thin head. It smells of bread and spice. Smooth, easy-drinking on the palate and agreeably sour with hints of spice and banana. One of my favorite wheats of those locally brewed.

Franziskaner Hefe-Weiss

An all-time favorite that pours a cloudy straw color. Aromas of cloves, grains, banana, and orange peel. Refreshing and light to the tongue with light carbonation for just the right crispness. Perfectly served directly from a bucket of ice in a pint or pilsner glass.


Cloudy golden-orange in color with a thick head on the pour with great yeast and spice aromas. Floral and fruity when you taste it, with the typical banana and clove notes present. This beer does have quite a bit of yeast forward flavor, too.

Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat

At a party the other night, a friend brought this beer. I have had it in the past and have enjoyed its fruity, refreshing flavor. She, however, summed it up wonderfully; “It tastes like Fruity Pebbles!” And so it does! Refreshing and very drinkable, this beer is nothing fancy, but it sure is fun to drink.

    Samuel Adams Rustic Saison

Straw yellow with a slight reddish tint, this beer forms a thin head which dissipates quickly but still leaves nice lacing on the glass. Spice and wheat strike you first when you sniff this beer and the flavor follows suit. There is a bitter after-taste to this brew, but that is certainly not a deterent.

As the spring heats up and the promise of another hot Florida summer looms, stock up on some quality wheat beers to refresh yourself with after mowing the lawn. Whether you add a slice of lemon or orange is up to you.

Until next time…

Long Live the Brewers!


Marc Wisdom

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Beer, Beer Styles


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Aussie Beer – The Sequel!

Drunken Traveler here,

Still down under. I had an opportunity to visit and tour a great craft beer brewery here in Melbourne, Australia, called Mountain Goat Brewery (

My taxi pulled up outside a very non descript warehouse in the middle of a lower class neighborhood in Richmond, a few miles east of downtown Melbourne. The only way I knew I was being dropped off where I asked and not taken out to be robbed, was the spray painted figure of a giant goat head on a roll up door.

The excitement built as I neared the entrance, I could hear people inside milling about, discussing a long work day. I swung the door open and, to my surprise, a fabulously wide open space with the best beer ambiance I have ever experienced. An old warehouse, high ceilings top-lit, with industrial beams and piping still in place. I could see the seven or more fermentation tanks just inside a short fenced off area. Large tables of all heights and sizes, everyone has a pint in their hands, relaxing and enjoying this golden liquid of joy.

Mountain Goat has been around for a few years and has really made its mark in the craft brew limelight of southern Australia. Their two main brews are Hightail Ale (4.5%), a traditional english bitter and Steam Ale (4.5%), a certified organic ale using wheat and full hop flowers creating a clean, fragrant beer clocking in at 28 IBU’s.

Jeff, the on duty staff ( Cam Hines, the founder and co-owner could not make it) who led us on our short tour around the mashing tuns and fermentation tanks, did a fair job explaining the history and process of making beer. At the end the obvious question came out.; why Mountain Goat?

“Mountain Goats are big hairy beasts, they stand up against anything and take no shit from anyone”

I found my way to the bar.

I have to try “The Hoeff” 5.0% their version of a Hefeweizen. Very cold, the taps here icing over.

I immediatly smelled bananas, a very cloudy yellow beer heavily yeasted. First taste was bananas, then the clean crisp tastes with a hint of black licorice followed by light caramels and the slightest whisper of cloves. This reminds me of a light version of Hoegaarden. Several of my mates (friends) here also shared a glass and all enjoyed it as well.

My next brew of choice was to dip into their stock of I.P.A. Very disappointing. Nothing special, even a bit tasteless as compared with other traditional I.P.A.’s. I have nothing else to say about it.

I made my next selection more careful. “Last Barrel of Oaked Rapunzal.” Ok my decision was made, “I’ll have a pint of that.”

 Bar girl, “Sorry, I can only give you a pot. I am not allowed to give you a pint because alcohol content is higher.” 

I look up, it’s is listed as 8.5%. Now I have to have it. ?I’ll take whatever you can give me.”

 She poured me a 580 ml draft glass.

Highly yellow, slightly cloudy. A slight yeasty smell.

It took me half the glass to be able to describe how it tasted. I’ve never tasted a beer like this, it was good, it was real good. I passed the glass around and everyone else had a sip. Then one of my friends (Mark) said it should be a wine not a beer. That’s it! It hits you up front with a sweetness, then the middle tastes like a Chardonnay, the finish is bitter and clean. Very oaky and hard to compare to beer flavors as it doesn’t fit in a beer scale. It has a higher carbonation than normal and is a real enjoyable drink.

With that I will call it a night, I am a bit worn out from travel. I will return to try their anchor beer, Steam Ale and High Tail some other time.

The taxi ride back to my apartment I couldn’t stop thinking about the glass of Oaked Rapunzal I had.

More beers from Aus later


Leave a comment

Posted by on January 20, 2011 in Beer, Beer Tasting, Drunken Traveler


Tags: , , , , , ,

Gorden Biersch – Visted by The Drunken Traveller

Drunk Traveler once again,

With my extended stay in South Florida, I decided to make a short hop over to Gordon Biersch on Brickell Ave. in Downtown Miami. My first impressions did not fare well, as I walked in the front door the hostess walked right past me out the door, without even a greeting.   I meandered about and found my way to the bar.   

Surprisingly for a Saturday evening the place was practically empty.  A bar that seats nearly 30, held only four other patrons handful of 5-6 tables with other dinner guests.   None the less, I asked my bartender  for a beer menu.  I promised not to disclose my bartenders name as I am going to divulge some disturbing words here in just a few moments.

The beer menu had a base of  6 regular brews. I went straight for the Hefeweizen.   Now Gordon Biersch has a very strict policy as described on their website as complying with the Reinheitsgebot (Germany’s beer purity law), which strictly limits that beer can be made from ONLY three ingredients; water, grains, and hops.  Later the fourth ingredient was allowed only after the discovery of yeast by Louis Pasture. There are so many things wrong with their beer that I am just going to jump right in.  

The Hefeweizen is brewed with banana peel and cloves added.  I do not like either in beer.  The beer was served way too cold, their keg room is set at 37 degrees Fahrenheit (I guessed 38˚ but I was corrected by the manager).   Plus they have added artificial carbonation! While I was sipping and trying to get the first pint down, I struck up a conversation with the nameless bartender. I asked a myriad of questions about the brewery, and each brew.  I was shocked at how little he and everyone else (wait staff and other bartenders) knew about beer in general! 

I began to explain the whole purity law and brewing process, I described the two main beer styles — ales and lagers. I then expanded from there into the 18 accepted styles of beers, such as wheat, lambics, pale ales, bitters, porters, bocks etc.  An audience started gather and it soon turned into a beer class.  

If you work in a macro brewery I would think you would know some simple basics about beer, like the difference between an ale and a lager, but at this location no one knew anything. As I continued the beer class, I went for the next pint.  This time I choose the marzen a very traditional German style beer.  It was very good.  Again way too cold and carbonated, but with that aside the flavors and light caramels gently passed my taste buds with a hint of fresh hops.  I would order this again if given the opportunity. The lessons continued as I sipped the marzen.

I noticed sweat rolling off of the taps and cringed, knowing the beer is being dispensed way too cold.  Miami at this time is under a very cool spell and with only 48% humidity this condensation on taps is highly irregular.   This is when I found out that all their beer is stored at the same temperature (37˚). 

I finished my burger and noticed a different tag on a tap I had not notice before;  FestBier.  The bartender quickly gave me a 4 once sample and explained it was the last remaining keg from their October (seasonal) beer which they called October Fest.  This was a fantastic tasting beer,  I would not dare call it an Octoberfest, though. that would only insult every German on the planet.   It was, however, a very light, clean, and crisp lager — nearly a pilsner.  I would think every idiotic American who chugs down countless beers during a Monday Night football game would love this beer.  It should be their anchor beer for the non-beer aficionados.  The establishment doesn’t see it that way (or shall I say my way).    

Moving on, I promised my tender I would save their WinterBrew for last. Weihnactsbockbier,  OG = 18,  ABV= 7.5%. A dark beer, listed as a bock,  described as having a smooth and nutty taste and finish with Christmas spices.   The brew was served in a very large-mouthed mug and extremely cold (like everything else).  I took a sip.  Nearly tasteless.  I waited 20 minutes or so for it too warm up just a bit, to around 42˚.  Small sips and yes, it began to release it very smooth nuttiness.  A clean finish.  Not expected from this nearly black beer. This beer I would order as a finishing toast of the evening with friends.  

If I wasn’t educated and self proclaimed as a beer lover and enthusiast, these beers would would have been very good.   Commercial establishments such as Gordon Biersch don’t provide the facilities to store different styles of beer at different temperatures because they don’t have people like me walking in and providing judgment on a high scale.  If given the opportunity I will visit a Gordon Biersch Restaurant again, but I will be prepared and not have such a high expectation. 


Leave a comment

Posted by on December 15, 2010 in Beer, Beer Tasting, Drunken Traveler


Tags: , , , , , , ,

On tap: Beer events calendar |

Want to know what is going on in town that is beer-related? The Jacksonville Times-Union’s Ed Stansel and Roger Bull have created a calendar listing all things brew!

On tap: Beer events calendar |

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 13, 2010 in Beer, Events


Tags: , , , ,