After walking a few blocks on a recent muggy afternoon to The Ginger Man from one of the very few on-street parking spots in the vicinity at the time, the thought of a vibrant, thirst-quenching Bavarian hefe-weizen seemed very appealing. The thought of two or three, even more appealing.
Though originating in the cool climes of Germany and Flanders, thirst-quenching and flavorful wheat beers can help take the edge off our long, toasty Gulf Coast summers. The most commonly found versions are uniquely and assertively yellow topped with a prominent bright white head of foam, and are served with a slice of lemon affirming its refreshing qualities. Most beers use malted barley solely as their base. Wheat beers, in contrast, complement the barley with a substantial proportion of wheat. The result is a slightly sweet, tart and extremely palatable beverage that pairs perfectly with heat and humidity. Though maybe having more feminine appeal than most beers, these are often also slightly more alcoholic than the norm.
When I got to the bar to order, I found that there was no Paulaner Hefe-Weizen or Franziskaner or anything else in the genre I was familiar with or liked on tap. The bartender recommended the Schneider Unser, which she mistakenly described as a combination of a lager and a wheat beer. That sounded quite strange and wrong, but I have enjoyed Schneider beers in the past, and the beer looked the part. The Schneider Unser is a traditional southern German hefe-weizen, after all. This beer, maybe a product of the keg being tapped too long, its age, or that it wasn’t the brewery’s strongest efforts, was rather dull.
For round two, seated outside, I was fumbling with what to order when the waiter came by the first time. Pleading for a moment, I remembered to take a look at the bottled beer selection, which I often neglect to do at The Ginger Man. And, I noticed one of my favorites in the style available a half-liter bottle, Ayinger Brau Weiss. It did not disappoint, as it never has.
Amazingly savory and balanced, Ayinger Brau Weiss offers a muted aroma, but is mouth-filling, well-rounded flavor, not sweet, but beautifully balanced, and extremely enjoyable. It was in very good condition, and the perfect choice. This beer, in fact, has won several blind tastings of wheat beers I have held over the years with friends. I believe that this is the best hefe-weizen found in the world and Ayinger is one of the best breweries in Germany. Their other creations are excellent, too.
Ayinger Brau Weiss is a terrific beer; and it might even taste better on a warm afternoon seated on a picnic bench at The Ginger Man.