The history of Germany’s Schneider Weisse brewery is a fascinating tour through the genealogical halls of a working family’s history. In a country where bottom-fermented lagers became the dominant beer on the tap list, thanks to the advent of refrigeration machines that could keep the fermenting beer at a happy temperature, the Schneider family refused to let the weisse, wheat ale fade into the storied past.
Once considered a beer style reserved for those with wealth or social standing, the trend changed and the taste buds of the masses morphed, making wheat beers not as desirable. I’m certain a day will come when the collective desire also moves away from milkshake India pale ales and hazy, juice-bombed New England IPAs, too.
That’s the thing about trends: They’re constantly evolving, so don’t put all your proverbial eggs in one basket.
The Schneider family began brewing in 1872 as a father-and-son operation in Munich, in which the younger Georg chose to stand up against the tide of what the public believed they wanted. He bucked that beer system and decided he was going to focus on that venerable beer from yesteryear, the wheat beer.
After the death of its founding fathers, the brewery passed to the elder’s grandson, an adventurer and explorer at heart. Under his leadership the Munich brewery grew and expanded, much to the delight of the masses who must have remembered that wheat beers were quite enjoyable after all.
Unfortunately, Georg III only had a brief time of brewery operations and expansion before his time here on Earth was up. His wife, Mathilde, assumed the roles and responsibilities of ownership at that point, overseeing day-to-day operations and even managing to keep both the Schneider family business and her family afloat during post-World War I tribulations.
Then her son, Georg IV, became old enough to slip into the shoes of his forebears and continued the family trend of not following popular notions. Despite the Munich brewery being destroyed during the Second World War, he kept on brewing in the city of Kelheim.
The Schneider Weisse business then passed onto Georg V, who continued to grow and build the wheat ale empire in Kelheim. Today, the company is run with Georg VI at the helm, and it has moved solidly into the modern world while still retaining the purity and perseverance of those ancestors who have gone before.
The beers that Schneider Weisse offer have orderly names, true to their German roots. Tap7 is the original family recipe from 1872; try that if you want to see what history tastes like. If you’re looking for a low alcohol by volume option, go with Tap11, the light wheat beer. Maybe you’re chilled from working outside on a blustery autumn afternoon (it will be here before we know it): Go with the Tap6 Aventinus, a doppelbock.
Or, if the situation requires something truly special, seek out a TapX Aventinus Cuvee Barrique. This yearly blend marries aged Aventinus Eisbock, a dark wheat ale that is concentrated after a special process of freezing, and Tap6 Aventinus. It’s further aged in Chardonnay barrels and bottle conditioned with house yeast.
It’s truly a singular beer perfect for the most special of occasions, but just as delightful when shared with a loved one on any old night.
I found a range of vintages in bottles, perfect for a vertical tasting of fine German beers that quite successfully stood against the tide of trends.
These are tasting notes for the 2014 blend.
TapX Aventinus Cuvee Barrique poured a chestnut reddish-brown that was clear and deep and topped with a thin, white head. The aroma was tart and full of sour cherries, raisins, marshmallow, candied orange, wood and leather.
In flavor, much of that aroma followed the nose. I found jammy sour cherry, rough leather, dry wood, prunes, tart berry, pinot noir and the tiniest bit of funk.
This is an exceptionally complex blending of beer, but it finishes dry and clean. There’s something refined and aristocratic about this TapX while still being entirely approachable for the common man (and woman). If you consider yourself a fan of Belgian ales, do seek out and try this offering from Schneider Weisse.
Contact Amber DeGrace with comments and questions at email@example.com and find her on Twitter at @amberdegrace.