Collaborations in the beer world are a big thing these days. A collaboration is when brewers from two different breweries pair up to make a single beer. Most collaborations are one-offs: a brewer visits someone, they design and brew a special beer, and that is that.
But sometimes a collaboration works out so well the resulting beer gets brewed again. A case in point is Schneider/Brooklyn Hopfenweisse. Brooklyn is one of the larger and higher profile craft brewers in the US. Schneider & Sons is a very old, very traditional wheat-beer brewer in Germany. These two breweries play in very different segments of the beer market, but both make high-quality beer.
They got together a few years ago at Schneider’s brewery to brew a German wheat beer with an American hop character. The result was Hopfenweisse, and they liked it so much the beer has been produced regularly ever since.
I decided to give the beer a try recently to see what the fuss was about. It pours a very cloudy light orange hue and builds a thick, tight, bright-white head. In the aroma I pick up citrus, lemon, clove pepperiness, soft wheat malt and some other fruitiness. I can sense touches of hop character, but they are somewhat masked by other qualities.
The taste shows its dual heritage. The front is fruity with banana, soft wheat graininess and a bit of a yeast-inspired earthiness, while the body has a moderately full malt character offering some breadiness. Some clove and pepper rise in the middle, but not too much—just enough to give you a Weizen character. I find in the background lurks a grassy, fruity hop character that at the end bursts forth to take over the beer. The hop is earthy, fruity and fresh. To be clear, I am not talking about bitterness here. The hop presents as flavour and overall impression. I like how it blends with the weisse yeast character, which is a signature of German wheat beer. The hops sharpen the finish more than would normally be the case with weizenbocks, which is why this beer is so interesting.
There is no question this is a beer that combines the best of both the old world and the new world. Schneider’s commitment to traditional weizen flavours with the curious addition of Brooklyn’s openness to hop character. On the surface it seems like it might be a bad arrangement, but it turns out to be one of those marriages that work. And a good thing for us. V
Jason Foster is the creator of onbeer.org, a website devoted to news and views on beer from the prairies and beyond.