Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Weizenbock (Camp #37)

In this third installment of my summertime drinking series featuring Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp variety pack, I tackle their international entry of a Weizenbock, better known on this side of the Atlantic as a wheat beer. Generally not being a fan of wheat beers, I did my best to approach this particular beverage with an open mind and eager taste buds.
The Beer:
Immediately upon pouring my first beer for this month's test, I began to think about some food to pair this with. Typically, I don't do this as I like to experience the beer in its purity without the compliments of any other flavors or textures. I am aware that beers, much like wines, are often heightened by the pairing of a good food, be it cheese, nuts, fruit, or even ice cream. There is a logical and sensible reason as to why we eat and drink in tandem of one another. However, despite my cravings, I opted to drink this first beer on its own. And so I sat back and put on some season 3 of "True Blood" and began my observations. What came to mind first and foremost was naturally wheat and malty flavors. Less fruity than most wheat beers I've had in the past, and certainly more malty that those same experiences. But there was also a sweetness to the beer that I couldn't quite get a handle on. This wasn't tart fruit sweetness from something like a lambic. Nor was it a chocolaty sweetness often found in stouts. I was intrigued. I was curious. I was actually trying in earnest to smell and taste every sip to narrow down this flavor. Although I can't particularly say that I was enjoying the taste on its own merits, I was thinking hard enough about the flavor profile of a beer that I completely ignored the fact that Sookie walked in on Eric vampire-banging some stripper in his basement lair. So, either my fondness for genre-kink has dissipated, or my interest in all-thing beer has really skyrocketed since last summer.
The Buzz:
Without being able to figure out just what I was tasting layered within this Weizenbock, I found myself well into the second beer and second episode of my mini "True Blood" marathon. About half way through both (and not particularly enjoying either) two things began to occur to me: 1) at almost 2/3rds of the way into this experiment, I was not even buzzed; and 2) this beer was getting worse over time. Not worse in an undrinkable way, but worse in an undesirable way. It may have simply been the abundance of malt and lingering sweetness with each sip, but I was not exactly charging to the fridge to crack open the third beer. Naturally, in the name of science, I pushed forward and drank that third beer taking a break between #2 & #3 to go to the bathroom, have a small bite to eat and gear up for the third episode of "Crazy ol' Sookie & the Gang". Not long into the third beer, I found myself struggling to stay awake. And although I'm fairly certain it was not from a heavy buzz, maybe it was because the Weizenbock is just the type of beer to lull one into a state of rest. It is carb-heavy, it is dense, and without the punch of bitterness from distinct hops, it does little to keep your palate sharp and your mind fresh (or...uhh...flip that...).

The Hangover:
Unlike most of these monthly drinking sessions, this one was followed up by a day of work. Not a regular nine-to-five (or in my professional eight-to-six) day with a packed office and meetings and headaches (ok, there were headaches), but rather I went in on a Sunday to make up some work. Expecting a little hangover but nothing substantial, I was sure that I'd be alright. I was not. No, I felt like shit most of the time there. Not Lagunitas shit, but uncomfortable and tired shit. And while work on any Sunday would make one feel awful, I'd have to say that having no air conditioning at work and a lack of food options only compounded my misery. It wasn't until almost two-thirds of the way through the day that  I started to feel some relief. And additionally, throughout the entire day, no coffee, no water, no food, no mint could eliminate a lingering aftertaste that was thinly sweet and bready.  For the lack of enjoyment beyond the first beer, the payoff of a mild hangover that lasted the better part of my day was not worth repeating this test any time soon.

The Verdict:
As with all the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp beers, this one was interesting to try. Unlike the California Common however, this isn't one that I'd seek out regularly or really have again under normal circumstances. I'm not a wheat beer fan, so naturally I wouldn't choose their Weizenbock over another option if given the chance. That said, if I found myself at a Bavarian Hefeweizen Festival in the fjords of Sweeden and my only choices were wheat beers & pretzels, then yeah, I'd probably give this one another shot. As it stands though, the Weizenbock has been my least favorite of the three Beer Camp beers I've tried so far. Next month bring me the last variety and a chance to reflect on the entire series as well as the summer as a whole.

Oh yeah...that taste I couldn't figure was banana!
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