I don’t often drink dunkelweizen. I like dunkelweizen, so I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because there aren’t many of them to be had in the Twin Cities. Those that are available are mostly imports, and German wheat beers, whether light or dark, are best consumed fresh. The long trip across the ocean and then halfway across the continent doesn’t always treat them kindly.
Or perhaps it’s the near-overwhelming diversity of beers available these days. Whether you know too much or you don’t know enough, a trip to the beer store can leave you locked in a paralysis of indecision. Distracted by all the “bright and sparklies” on the shelf it’s maybe difficult for me to find my way back to the two bottles of dunkelweizen gathering dust amid the pilsners.
Whatever the reason, I just don’t often think about dunkelweizen.
I should think more about dunkelweizen. It’s a great beer to pair with food. Like its lighter sister it is great with salads especially those with more substantial flavors like candied walnuts. Toasty-caramel melanoidin flavors make for scintillating combinations with the darker flavors of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes with mole or roasted Poblano peppers. Pulled pork anyone? Okay, now I’m craving Tex-Mex and beer, but it’s only 9:30 am…
I really should give dunkelweizen more consideration.
Summit Brewing Company has pushed the style to the front of my crowded brain with the release of Unchained #9 – a dunkelweizen created by brewer Eric Blomquist. So now there are three examples on the shelf. But one of them is made in St. Paul. For those of us in Minnesota, it can’t really get much fresher.
Here’s my notes:
Aroma: A balanced blend of banana and clove that leans just a bit more heavily on the spice. Bread and caramel form the base with raisiny fruit filling in the cracks. Overtones of lemon citrus pop out of the glass like the tiny fizz splashes on soda pop. And do I detect the subtlest hint of smoke?
Appearance: Beautiful to look at. It pours dark amber to mahogany; murky and opaque. The long-lasting, fluffy, ivory head falls slowly to thick foam on the surface that lasts all the way to the bottom of the glass. Effervescent bubbles rise from the bottom of the glass.
Flavor: Let it warm up just a bit. Fresh from the fridge it is surprisingly bitter with a citrusy hop-like flavor that sits in the middle of my tongue. As the temperature rises, so does the flavor of melanoidin; like burnt brown sugar. And there are those raisins re-visiting from the aroma. The yeasty banana character steps to the background, allowing clove to come to the fore. The citrus from early on backs off toward the end, but leaves a final calling card at the back of my throat on the way out.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied, yet thick and chewy – pillowy. Effervescent – tingly on my tongue.
Overall Impression: A good beer for the kind of weather we’re having; not quite the summery quaff of a hefeweizen, but not as dark, rich and wintery as a weizenbock. It’s a delicate in-between. Let it warm a bit before you start drinking to let the malt character that makes if a dunkelweizen come through. Dark fruit and toasted brown sugar flavors work wonders with the yeast.
Unchained #9 comes out in bars the week of March 5th. Check the Summit website for details of release events. Bottles will appear the week of March 19th.