Reviewed: Weihenstephaner / Sierra Nevada Braupakt
Product description: This naturally cloudy amber Hefeweizen has a firm, creamy head and reveals fragrances of peach, apricot and citrus on the nose. The initial impression on the palate is of a bouquet of aromas, including subtle touches of banana plus refreshing grapefruit from the American Chinook hops. The fruity peach and apricot notes from the Amarillo hops are balanced by the gentle sweetness of the caramel malt. The beer has a delicate tartness that melds into a harmonious mouthfeel on the finish. Hops: Hallertau Tradition, Amarillo, Chinook. 6% ABV, 35 IBUs.
Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan – Weihenstephaner / Sierra Nevada Braupakt Hefeweissbier – 12oz bottle served in specialty glassware – 6% ABV
Let’s find out what happens when you take two of the most consistently excellent breweries in the world to team up to create…drumroll…a wheat beer. I’m sampling the latest special release from Weihenstephaner, a Bavarian brewery that has been continuously producing beer since 1040 and in that time has rolled about the same number of special releases that Modern Times puts out in a year. From a 12oz bottle with packaging code 7068 (or 7th day of 06, June, from 2018), Braupakt is nicely hazy, not murky or muddy looking, deeper golden in color with voluminous foam with incredible mousse-like texture and volcanic topography as it rises out of the vessel and pushes past the top of the glass but doesn’t spill over thanks to its creamy density. It looks perfect. There’s actually substantially more yeast sediment caked to the bottom of the bottle that I opted not to include.
The aroma gives you that classic banana bread and bubblegum combo with flashes of sage and then major phenolic compounds of white pepper, clove, and cardamom. There’s a touch of lemon from the now faded citrusy American hops addition. Even with this very fresh bottle, the Chinook and Amarillo addition doesn’t substantially modify the traditional hefeweizen aroma. If anything, I get a sharper grassy to an almost catty character that you might find with Heineken.
The flavor is herbal and nicely bitter for this style and relatively dry. Sugar isn’t a major component though banana bread is still the primary flavor at the front of the palate moving over for spices in the mid-palate and finish. White and black pepper, cardamom, clove, and sage become the focus of the beer with a fairly chalky texture from the yeast in suspension. The beer glides across the palate with medium density and ends with a dry, herbal bite for a quick finale.
Braupakt is a great beer by every standard. I didn’t compare it side-by-side with regular Weihenstephaner, but just from memory, Braupakt is slightly drier and certainly more bitter than the regular hefeweissbier. The phenolic spice medley is also more diverse and takes over the beer vs. other hefeweizens where fruity esters and sugar dominate. The Amarillo and Chinook hops (these are my two favorite varieties by the way), don’t stick out for me. Rather, they remain nicely integrated. By no means is this an “American twist on the traditional hefeweizen.” Braupakt is a masterful beer by any standard. I hope it sticks around for a long time. For now, it remains a limited edition.