Homeopathy, Headaches and Hops: Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse

Sometimes it's hard to come up with a good story for you guys. I'm staunchly opposed to the notion of beer review as form letter, simply ticking off the A S T M and calling it a day.

For me, food and drink are informed with a greater importance by virtue of their ability to trigger memory and emotion, both setting and recalling them with amazing specificity. Most of the time, those associations come fairly easily for me; a beer that transported me back to 1989, exploding action figures in the alley behind my house, for example. Other times, I have to mull over exactly what to say about a beer.

It's not necessarily an attempt to capture the spirit of the beer, or even my feelings about it, so much as a sort of free-associative process whereby my jumbled tasting notes, complete with random associations and references, many of which barely make sense to me when I sit down at the computer several days later ("Urine Headache" being a recent and pertinent example of this), get translated into something I find interesting and at least tangentially related to my experience of the beer at hand.

For a handful of mostly unrelated reasons, that process has been particularly difficult with this collaborative brew. In an interesting and slightly ironic twist, one those reasons ended up being the catalyst for what you're now reading.

I had a headache when I tasted this. Not the type of headache that renders you incapable of perceiving anything but the white, searing pain behind your eyes, just one of those headaches that make whatever you're doing a bit less enjoyable -- more a source of irritation than of actual pain. I suppose I had headaches on the brain (sorry), because I jotted that "Urine Headache" note in the margins as I drank. It was a reference to the color of the beer, a sort of dull and hazy amber color reminiscent of morning pee. I'm a bit chronically dehydrated, so your piss-tint mileage may vary.

Back when my wife was in school, she chose to deliver an informative speech on homeopathic headache remedies for a communications class. I can't recall how she settled on headaches, but I will always recall what she learned. Alongside such ordinary hippie-esque treatments as magnets, pressure-points and meditation, she learned all about the healing properties of pee. A little bit rubbed on the temples was better than aspirin, the literature proclaimed, even better if you drank it, and best if it was the pure elixir of the morning's first micturation.

Over the course of her research, she bought some magnets, squeezed her chakras and thought about trees falling in forests. None of them substantially improved its targeted headache. Coffee with a squeeze of lemon seemed to help, owing mostly to the effects of caffeine on blood flow, but tasted pretty unpleasant. Try as I might, citing her obligations to her audience and the importance of process, I couldn't convince her to rub pee on her face, let alone drink it. Come on. It would have been funny.

The beer pours a dark, goldish amber, with a bit of haze (overwhelming if you pour too quickly, releasing the significant sediment into the glass). A fluffy white head stood three fingers for a few seconds, quickly deflating by two thirds, but then holding its own admirably.

The aroma is dominated by a sweet, solvent character. Overripe bananas and cloves, like someone spilled a spice drawer into a bowl of muffin batter, follow. The cloves have a weird, dusty and somewhat pre-fab character, like a scratch 'n' sniff sticker. There's a zesty citrus character, faintly reminiscent of Meyer lemon.

The flavor is almost like a conjoined twin, repeating all of the aromas, and in the same ratio. The only difference is a lingering breadiness and borderline malt. Fortunately, there is no hint of urine in either the flavor or aroma. Unfortunately, my headache was entirely unaffected.

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