Tag Archives: Germany

30. Franziskaner Weissbier

As we reach one tenth of our way through The Book, we’d probably better tick off another of the many wheat beers.

Whilst I won’t pretend the style is my favourite, the two examples I’ve covered so far—the Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier and the 8.2% ABV Schneider Aventinus—didn’t turn out to be too much of an ordeal, so let’s try another one.


Franziskaner certainly looks the part, being a cloudy blonde colour with a large white head. There’s the usual reference to monks on the label and in the naming, as seems to be almost obligatory in Northern Europe.

As for the flavour, to me this tastes like a typical wheat beer: more so than the surprisingly delicate Weihenstephaner, which is probably why I’m enjoying it less. On the other hand it’s less interesting than the Schneider Aventinus, whilst thankfully being more restrained in flavour than the ubiquitous Hoegaarden.

It’s hard to find anything particularly interesting to say about Franziskaner Weissbier. Nothing really jumps out about the flavour, but if you want a fairly standard wheat beer that’s widely available in supermarkets and the like, you could probably do a lot worse.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu GmbH, Munich, Germany
Style: Wheat Beers
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: Sainsbury’s, Westow Street, London SE19
Serving: 500ml Bottle

20. Schneider Aventinus

The second of the dauntingly many wheat beers that I have to work my way through is also the first of what I suspect will be quite a few beers sourced from the magnificent Draft House just up the road in East Dulwich.

Costing as it does a hefty £8.50 a bottle, I hope this is a cut above the wheat beers I’ve tried in the past. Let’s see.


Well, Schneider Aventinus is probably the least attractive beer so far, being a muddy, cloudy greyish-brown colour, not unlike something you’d expect to drain from the back of the dishwasher.

It tastes unmistakably like a wheat beer, though as a Weizenbock, it’s stronger than is typical for the style at a daunting 8.2% ABV. It’s also extra chocolatey and smooth, but still with an odd citrus tang. I’m not convinced that it really works, though no doubt there are drinkers who go nuts for this sort of thing.

Considering the strength, it’s relatively refreshing and dangerously drinkable, but there isn’t the sense of sheer luxury that real top end beers have.

That said, it’s a great deal more enjoyable and satisfying than something like Hoegaarden, and whilst there’s very little chance that wheat beer will ever be my favourite style of beer, the Aventinus is, for now at least, my new favourite wheat beer. Sorry Weihenstephaner!

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Weisses Bräuhaus G. Schneider & Sohn GmbH, Kelheim, Germany
Style: Wheat Beers
Strength: 8.2% ABV
Found at: The Draft House, Lordship Lane, London SE22
Serving: 500ml bottle

16. Früh Kölsch

Our second visit to Germany sees us breaking new ground. This is my first ever experience of the style of beer known as Kölsch.

Kölsch is native to Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen and in fact use of the name is protected by law, and restricted to a handful of breweries in Köln and a couple of surrounding cities.

For all of that. I suspect this is going to be a pretty ordinary lager. Let’s pour ourselves a glass and find out.


Früh Kölsch looks a lot like a lager, but in fact is warm fermented, so I suspect that to use that term would be technically inaccurate. Even so, it’s the palest and fizziest beer we’ve come across so far. At a mere 4.8% it’s also the weakest.

Predictably enough, it also tastes like a lager, but a rather thin, mildly-flavoured one, quite in contrast to the Brooklyn Lager that opened my eyes recently.

It’s light and refreshing, and there’s a pleasant dryness to the finish, but apart from that, there really isn’t much to write home about here. The beer is clearly designed to be rapidly sunk several Steins at a time in the local Bierkeller without too much trouble, but it’s pretty forgettable stuff.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Cölner Hofbräu P. Josef Früh KG, Köln, Germany
Style: Kölsch
ABV: 4.8%
Found at: Waitrose Food Court at John Lewis, Oxford Street, London W1
Dispense: 500ml Bottle

13. Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier

Well, now here’s a little bit of variety: our first wheat beer, and our first trip to that most beery of countries, Germany.

Based on limited experience, I can’t claim to be a big fan of wheat beers, but there are an inordinate number of them in The Book. I think old Roger might be a bit of a fan, so I’m going to have to be open-minded.


I’m clearly no expert, but Weihenstephaner Hefe seems darker than I’d expect from a wheat beer. There is a nice cloudy yeastiness to it however, and that should be no surprise, since “Hefe” means yeast, and this is an unfiltered variant of the style, designed to keep that yeast floating around in the beery goodness.

The taste is not dissimilar to the ubiquitous Hoegaarden, but is lighter and more subtle. In fact this is really quite a nice, refreshing beer. The hops are present yet gentle, and there’s a faintly detectable citrus twist and a nice long malty finish.

It isn’t especially complex, and there isn’t a great deal of depth to it, but this would certainly make for a most pleasing summery, sitting-outside-the-pub sort of beer.

It sounds a little like faint praise, but of the few wheat beers I have tried, I think this might be my favourite.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Weihanstephan Brewery, Munich, Germany
Style: Wheat Beers
Strength: 5.4% ABV
Found at: Sainsbury’s, Westow Street, London SE19
Serving: 500ml bottle