Thus it was that Saruman and I decided last week to taste at the same time the various wheat beers knocking around my flat from around the continent, all four of them. Ok not exactly a representative sample, but still the competitors were:
- Maisel's Original representing Germany (Just the one win, and this year's entry is this chap)
- Primátor Weizen representing the Czech Republic (Yet to win the competition and somewhat worryingly this lot are the competitors from LagerLand this year!)
- Henley Gold representing the United Kingdom (5 times winners have Jade in the real competition)
- Curim representing Ireland (7 time winners this year have this collection of lovelies)
We started off with Curim from the Carlow Brewing Company, makers of the wonderful O'Hara's stout, I had high hopes. Oh dear, not what I was expecting at all. It pours golden and clear, but the white head scarpered sharpish. The nose was laden with bread and actually smelled rather stale, no spicy notes or citrus delights to get the senses going. Taste wise it was more like a strong pilsner than a wheat beer, and it had a light floral touch, but this was an all round disappointment.
Next up Britain's entry, Henley Gold from the Lovibond's brewery near London. Again this one poured clear and golden - although I believe it is not filtered, the head was white and quite loose. The nose was much better than the Curim, with classic banana and clove notes dominating. In the mouth, again cloves, spice, muted bananas but with a dry crisp finish, which I found very refreshing. I felt though that the flavours were a bit muted and could benefit from being ramped up a bit.
Closer to home then, the Czech entry. Pours a nice cloudy orange, with a bit white rocky head - classic weizen. The nose is quite heavy on the cloves, with bananas subtly but noticably in the background, also a dose of citrus, which carries on in the drinking and is then joined in the chorus by a refreshing hop bite. Very refreshing and very drinkable.
Germany's entry, Masiel's Original, pours a darker cloudy orange than the Primátor although it has the classic big white head. Again the nose was dominated by spicy cloves, though underlaid with more citrus than banana in this case. When it comes to the drinking, citrus is the dominant flavour, and you get a nice tingly feeling in your mouth. Very nice, crisp dry and refreshing.
It was interesting that Saruman and I both agreed on the order of preference for the beers, that being:
- Primátor Weizen
- Maisel's Original
- Henley Gold
A quick word about the Henley Gold, and I say this as a fan of all the beers I have had from Lovibond's, I feel the beer could be so much more, however I wonder if it is held back by the reaction you would get in most English pubs to being given a cloudy pint? Does it lose something in the absense of yeast in the pour?