One cannot argue with history. When a tradition of excellence goes back for centuries, it only means that a brewery’s recipe – both for success and for beer – is unparalleled. Weihenstephan houses the oldest brewery in the world, dating back to the year 1040 C.E. Their signature ale is their hefeweissbier. It is the standard that all other unfiltered wheat beers are measured again, and for good reason.
The king of all hefeweizens is impossible to find in the Philippines. Luckily, nearby Thailand brings in a much more expansive selection of European brews than we do. While I envy them somewhat, I think the trade-off is stacked highly in our favor as the Philippines has the largest importation contract of North American craft beer in Southeast Asia thanks to Global Beer Exchange. So I did what I do perhaps annoyingly well and asked a friend in Bangkok to bring me home some beer.
A rare (given the circumstances) and special beer such as this deserved only the most special occasion, so it was with the best wheat beer in the world that I celebrated the culmination of four and a half years of physical, mental, psychological anguish. It was also most fitting that I drank a beer that sets the bar for all others of its style when I finished hurdling my own bar. While only time will tell whether I actually made it, I began the agonizing waiting game with this excellent brew.
The Weihenstephaner came in a 330-ml bottle, which meant that it would fall far below the lip of my trusty 500-ml weizen glass. I took the time to roll the bottle first, redistributing the unfiltered yeast, and poured at a thirty-degree angle without the bottle and the glass touching – the way many Bavarians suggest pouring a weissbier. The beer would have been magnificent in the proper-sized glass, though, with its towering, foamy head, prominent effervescence and golden, barely cloudy body. The banana and clove phenols come through, as expected from any hefeweizen, but what really sets the Weihenstephaner apart is its balance. This was slightly sweeter than most others of the same style available here in the Philippines. The yeastiness and acidity tend to come out more in other hefeweizens, which tends to detract a bit from their drinkability. There was no such issue with the Weihenstephaner. Every sip was a profound pleasure. This would be my perfect summertime brew, hands down (well, alternating with a good, citrusy IPA like Sculpin or PtE).
Many special thanks go out to my beer shipper, who painstakingly wrapped the beer in kindergarten work sheets to prevent both breakage and skunking.