Tucher Kristall Weizen

July 28, 2010

Mid-July in the deep south. The air temperature hovers around a Beelzebub-approved 95 degrees with saturating humidity. Feels like someone’s draped a giant, wet wool blanket over your head. And while it’s rather futile to yell at Old Scratch to keep his hands away from the thermostat there are options to beat the heat. I know someone who actually filled a wading pool with ice cubes once but I can think of something a bit more subtle.

I prefer to grab a weizenbier when the thermometer climbs. These are ales whose malted grain is wheat and, when fermented using Bavarian strains of yeast, possess what’s referred to as a phenolic character. Without getting into the deep chemical reactions in this process, it simply refers to unique flavors that wouldn’t emerge had a different strain of yeast been used. Okay, okay… just this once for all you nerds out there: Weizenbier’s signature phenol is 4-vinyl guaiacol that is a metabolite of ferulic acid. Thanks, Wikipedia.

Those unique flavors are wildly diverse. Banana, clove, bubblegum, smoke, lemon and even the not-so-appetizing-sounding band-aid plastic are usually mentioned when discerning the tastes of a weizen. One can find the traditional style, hefeweizen, or even dunkelweizen where the wheat is toasted to impart a darker color and flavors akin to a bock. In the case of today’s beer, kristallweizen is a filtered version of a hefeweizen. The filtration removes both the yeast and the cloudy wheat particles suspended in the beer. The result of this is a light-bodied ale with a lower alcohol content that makes for an easily consumed beverage.

Tucher from Nurmberg, Germany has a kristall that pours a giant head of micro-bubble foam. This pale yellow ale smells of banana bread and faint citrus. Harmoniously-balanced flavors of lemon, bubblegum, banana and vanilla hide just a trace of clove towards the finish. There is abundant carbonation in this beer yet its texture is feather-soft. Tucher’s combination of light flavors and textures makes for one thirst-quenching drink… perfect for a hot day.