Blue Collar Brew Review – König Ludwig Weissbier

Friday rolled around with nothing but indecision as far as a beer choice for review was concerned. I didn’t want to sample another IPA (although I wouldn’t mind it.) The weekend was going to be hot, in the low 90s and for that reason, a high alcohol beer was less than desirable (although I wouldn’t mind it.) Something light and tasty.

Aha! The relatively unexplored territory of pilsners was one obvious choice. Lagers as well. Perhaps I’d be better able to differentiate the tastes between the two. That was definitely a possibility, but my experience told me I’d be drinking beers that were under 5% ABV.

I know… WHEATBEER! I haven’t had one of that style in a long time. Reminders of good ol’ Hacker-Pschorr came to mind. The very first brew review was of Hacker-Pschorr. Two short paragraphs which in effect stated, “Not bad. I like it. I think I’ll try it again.” Pfft! Still, I have a special place in memory for wheat beers.

Friday’s work stint would be abbreviated due to a weekend computer system upgrade and we were assured of an early-out. Went the clientele were released, the sun was still out. The time afforded me the opportunity to visit Cardinal Liquors in Joliet with their great selection of craft beers. I’d be looking for a wheat beer which was over 5% alcohol. Good luck, Frankie.

Once I entered the store, I didn’t know it’d be about 20 minutes before I made up my mind. I had the iPod touch fired up to RateBeer’s app (which doesn’t require a connection to the Internet.) I paced back and forth, entering names of breweries and beers with not much success in the category with the over 5% requirement.

I finally laid my eyes on a sixpack of beer brilliantly labeled Weissbier from a brewery I never heard of in Bavaria, Germany. König Ludwig Weissbier proudly displayed its label in old world gold and yellow with a medieval crest and gothic style font. Royal Bavarian Hefe-Weizen in gold on black right at the bottom of the front label.

The beer and brewery is named after King Ludwig II who was a bit of a looney and eccentric, the family held exclusive rights to the weissbier style for a couple of hundred years. The Neuschwanstein Castle, shown in the sixpack pic above was his idea.

On the back was the information I was looking for: 5.5% ALC/VOL. That was it. Alas, the bottles only held 11.2 ounces. It will have to do. What was I talking about? Hell, it was BEER! Of course it would do. 11 bucks for the sixer seemed a bit pricey but the beer was imported from Bavaria.

Spotted a four-pack of Allagash Dubbel and snatched it up for next Friday.

Saturday was high heat but relatively low humidity. The time spent out in the garage was actually tolerable with the window fan blowing over me. My web-browsing got the better of me and I finally realized that beer time was now. Yes. I grabbed the wheat beer glass from the cabinet and got set up.

Randy Mosher will have to cut me some slack on the pouring of this first beer. I know all about the giant foam that will come up. I stuck the neck of the bottle and poured. The beer came up quite a bit cloudy as is the style, but this one was really cloudy. The foam head came up about an inch and was a creamy white. Carbonation was very vigorous and bajillions of bubbles raced upwards. The aroma was that old familiar wheat beer smell, part breakfast cereal of some sort and part beer. The color was a pale almost orange-yellow similar to pineapple grapefruit juice

The first sip was different than what I was expecting. A very light body presented the beer. Tastes of unsweetened melon came later with a little bit of tartness. Tastes like a summer quencher from the outset. Some very subtle sweetness clung to the sides of my mouth as the beer went down.

By the middle of the first glassful, I started getting hints of that old European yeast taste that prevalent in a lot of the German Oktoberfest beers (Spaten.) But here, the body and the flavor don’t come close to that of a Marzen. More tarty sweetness came up as the sips continued and the beer started to grow on me.

There wasn’t even a hint of hops in this beer. It was smooth all the way down. Nice and juicy up front with a hint of Bavaria in the back. Weighing in at 5.5% alcohol, this beer is at the top end of the scale in the BJCP style book.

The neck label states that the beer was brewed according to the Bavarian purity law or Reinheitsgebot of 1516. I would assume that this beer also conforms to the German law stating that at least 50% of the grist must be malted wheat. It’s debatable whether these laws do any good for the beer these days, but I’m sure purist brewers who brew by those laws, puff out their chests with pride when they do.

The rear body label had a little blurb about the ingredients used: water, wheat malt, barley malt, hop extract, yeast. I’ve heard of hop extract but I’m unfamiliar whether it imparts odd or different flavors to the beer. I don’t know how different it would be if regular hop pellets were used in the brewing process.

The second glassful was more of the same: odd wheaty aroma, light body, melony taste and some sweetness. Each swallow was easy on the tonsils but with a very light rasp coming from the carbonation. With some of the day’s heat still in the Manly Garage, the beer went down like gangbusters. Yep. This was a good contender for a lawnmower beer.

Some would argue as to whether this beer is sessionable, being a half percent over the traditional limit of 5%. I’d say that it’s up to the individual taste, palate and preference. Myself, I’d be well into the second sixpack towards the end of a summer party or gathering.

I’d love to compare this beer to my all time favorite, Hacker-Pschorr. It’s been a while since I’ve had some of it and I should pick up a sixer sometime soon. After all, I owe it to Hacker-Pschorr as being the inspiration for me starting this website in the first place. But for right now, I’m perfectly happy swilling this König Ludwig and for some reason, I feel stiffed by the 11.2 ounce bottles. I want my money’s worth.

If you’ve never tried a weissbier before, promise yourself you do it this summer. You’ll be surprised at how different yet refreshing a beer made with wheat can be. If you’re familiar with the style of this beer, you should still try this one and round out the taste spectrum that resides deep within your tongue.

A summer slammer made with wheat. Breakfast of Champions! Shot from guns! They’re gr-r-r-eat!

The SixPackTech ratings for König Ludwig Weissbier are:

Taste: Not too shabby with hints of fruity melon and Europe.
Smoothness: Slick as a wet doorknob.
Drinkability: Bring ‘em on and keep ‘em coming.
Bang for the buck: A little steep knowing each bottle is .8 ounces short.
ABV: 5.5%
Paid price: $10.99
Brewer’s website: König Ludwig International GmbH & Co. KG

The wife was unavailable for opinion but luckily, my son and his babe, Aubrey showed up to keep the old man company during the review session.

Aubrey’s all-encompassing opinion: (sniff) It’s gonna be bitter. (sip) Good aftertaste. (sip) It tastes spicy like spice. It’s not too bitter, not overwhelming. (sip) It’s weissy. I think that’s it. (Yep. Weissy nailed it.)




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