Beer of Character, or Alcopop?

Farny beer advertisement, Lindau, Bavaria.

On our recent trip to Lindau on Lake Constance, we found wheat beers to be some of the most satisfying on offer, which led us to consider Weizen’s status.

Meckatzer, the big local brewer, produce both a golden straight-up Weizen and a darker, amberish Ur-Weizen (both 5.2% ABV). The latter reminded us of Schneider’s unusually dark standard wheat beer, with a similar cinnamon and baked-apple character, while the former had the lemony, pineapple quality we first noticed in Distelhäuser’s Weizen in Würzburg.

Another brewery whose logo is ubiquitous in the Lindau-Friedrichshafen area is ‘Farny‘ (snigger), specialising in wheat beer (standard, ‘crystal’, ‘old style’, and light). Unfortunately, we only managed to drink one — Kristalweizen (5.3%) — in a restaurant where we ate out of desperation having missed a train. It seemed to us almost indistinguishable from many of the pilsners from the same region, with only some concentration revealing a hint of cheap banana-flavoured penny sweets in the aroma.

SchussenriederweizenSchussenrieder, Simmerberg and Postbier all produced similar light-coloured, zingy, refreshing wheat beers, the latter being particularly common in Lindau.

These beers, on the whole, made a change from barely-hopped, sweetish lagers (e.g. Meckatzer’s perfectly pleasant but unexciting Weiss-Gold Export), offering more, and more unusual, flavours and aromas. They were, to some extent, the Connoisseur’s Choice.

But, despite their exotic perfume, they are also sweet, highly carbonated, and by no means challenging: not quite alcopops, but certainly popular, with people in every age group, in every situation, at any time of day.

Perhaps Weizen is that rare thing: a beer which is completely accessible, but also complex enough to maintain the interest of those who feel compelled to think and talk about what they’re drinking? As complicated as you want to make it.

4 thoughts on “Beer of Character, or Alcopop?”

  1. Weizens are no more homogeneous than (say) best bitters are, surely? There’s a lot – too much – sameyness going on, but there’s also quite a few outliers and variations.

    1. Hmm. Failure of expression our part: within that 5.X% range, there’s lots of variation, but nothing we’ve come across that would cause a casual Weizen drinker to spit it out in disgust. (The Hopfenweisse thing is the obvious exception, but that’s a whole new style of beer, really.)

      Bitter is a good comparison, but lots of people find it too, er, bitter. If there’s a complaint you hear about Weizen, it’s that it’s not bitter enough.

      Is it fair to say that the worst is Erdinger? Very subdued and muddy the last few times we’ve tried it.

  2. “But, despite their exotic perfume, they are also sweet, highly carbonated, and by no means challenging: not quite alcopops, but certainly popular, with people in every age group, in every situation, at any time of day.”

    The same, surely, could be said of many beers? Like all of that American tropical fruit stuff.

    1. Though we’ve said before that we think those US-style IPAs are very accessible and engaging, they’re still not (as far as we’ve seen) universally popular. Yet to see an old lady drinking one with her morning pretzel, for example.

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