My last column was a hopeful one. After months of struggling to orient myself in this new world of gluten-free beer, I found a wonderful option in the form of Estrella's Daura.
Indeed, just days after writing my column two weeks ago, I polished off the rest of the four-pack with ease, proving it did possess the kind of superior drinkability I claimed (not the same as Bud Light's). Despite the euphoria from my new friend Duara, though, I knew it couldn't last.
After months of abstaining from all things traditionally brewed, I decided to get back into the gluten game, hoping my stomach was up to the task after a few months of rest and recovery. (Pizza doesn't count, I will not stop eating pizza under any circumstances.) I checked my Pepcid AC pack to make sure it was full, and set out. It was time to make a beer run.
As I made the trek down to Uncle Tom's, I already had my sights set on a particularly alluring brew. If you've never been to this fantastic diamond in the rough, you need to remedy that right away.
From the hot dogs to the real dogs, this place really carries some great stuff. It's the only place I know where you can find forties, nudie pens, soup in a can and some of the finest beer around, all in one shop. Consider yourself informed—Wal-Mart ain't got nothin' on Uncle Tom's.
Another reason I love going there is the guy who runs it really knows his beer and will talk with you about whatever you're looking at to give you some background.
One particular beer he turned me on to, back when I was writing my column about hefeweizens, was an interesting collaboration between the German G. Schneider & Sohn brewery, and the American Brooklyn Brewery, aptly named Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse. I think you're required to yell that name in a faux German accent.
What makes this such an intriguing partnership is the extreme difference between the two sides. For example: Brooklyn Brewery was founded in 1987, while G. Schneider & Sohn started up in 1872. Brooklyn Brewery is known for having generally hoppy beers, while German G. Schneider & Sohn's weisse beers have the distinctive low-hop taste and associated flavors.
Perhaps, then, it was surprising when the two brewmasters—the American, Garnet Oliver, and the German, Hans-Peter Drexler—combined forces in the name of beer.
When I brought this fascinating brew to my eager test panel for sampling, I really didn't know what to expect. I've tried a fair number of hefeweizens, am familiar with their characteristic profile and have had my fair share of Brooklyn lagers as well. I couldn't really imagine what the two would taste like together, but I was eager to find out. Upon pouring, the glass revealed a beautiful golden color, with a fairly thick white head. This was going to be good.
As I set my nose on it, I immediately recognized some of the familiar hefeweizen aromas of cloves, bananas and citrus—it was time to see what this beer was all about. Taking my first sip, I found the same aromas to come through in the flavor, particularly the citrus, with a nice, broad hoppiness giving way to a smooth finish. This was the good stuff.
Thinking back, I should have expected this. Even though the American-German pairing seemed strange at first, really this was a perfect match. The sweet flavor of the weiss beer complements and subdues the hoppy flavor of Oliver's brew, creating a balanced brew. Everyone in attendance agreed that it was a real crowd-pleaser, despite being more than 8 percent ABV.
I should have known, judging by Uncle Tom's rave reviews, that this was a special beer, but I remain so impressed by the results of the collaboration. Unfortunately, I couldn't have too much without the help of Pepcid, but I'm glad that I came out of gluten retirement for this beer.
Growing up in abstinence-only Ohio (thanks Bush), I was always taught to save myself for the right one. Well I found the right one tonight.