Brew Blog: Weihenstephaner Original

All right, beer nerds, sharpen your knives (or whatever your weapon of choice when chasing down fledgling beer reviewers, pinning them to the ground, and pouring gallons of domestic pilsner down their throats). That's right, this marks my official debut as the new Brew Blog writer here at Eating Our Words, and I expect a warm welcome. Actually, I expect to be harassed, corrected, mocked, belittled, and frequently educated. That last part, I'm actually looking forward to.

All kidding aside, let's get started with our first review, shall we? I thought it fairly apropos to go with a beer from one of the world's oldest continuously produced brews, seeing as how my Brew Blog trial run covered one of the newest. Weihenstephaner Original seemed to be a good choice, providing a classicist look at reinheitsgebot beers to balance out the flight of fancy from the last go-round.

Weihenstephaner Original is a pretty classic example of Munich Helles Lager, Bavaria's answer to the easy-drinking Czech Pilsner. Helles means "bright," and that's a good way to describe this beer. It pours out a pale golden color, rendered shimmery by its high carbonation, the plentitude of fine bubbles catching the light as they rise. The effervescence also results in a tall, fluffy head that tends to climb over the rim of the glass, its lightness preventing it from cascading down the side.

As it is drunk, the beer leaves an elegant lacing of foam on the glass, and the head is perpetually replenished. It's nice to have a bit of head chase the beer to the bottom of the glass as you drink it.

The aroma profile is fairly clean and simple, with a mostly yeasty, bready character. There are subtle hints of acetaldehyde (mostly manifesting as the peel from a granny-smith apple) and a nice touch of fruity esters, but mostly it's the bread. As the beer warms, a bit of sulfur can creep in, but only enough to offer contrast, not enough to be offensive.

Flavor wise, this beer manages a good balance of taste and drinkability. Nicely balanced malt and hops are the rule, with a bit of the banana-like esters creeping back in. It's crisp and dry, with the esters offering the illusion of sweetness. The malt elements round the beer out, while the hops flit around the edges as a peppery, slightly floral accent. Overall, it's a beer whose flavor rides the line between robust, thanks to the grainy malt, and delicate, thanks to the impeccable balance.

This balance makes it a perfect beer for everyday drinking, equally amenable to the heat of a Houston summer and to the recent cold snap. It's not a beer that requires much thought to appreciate, but definitely offers more than your average every day lager. This is one to keep on hand for when you just want a good solid beer.

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