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Maisel's Weisse Original

While the city of Bayreuth is best known for its Wagner festival, it is also a brewing town. It is in Germany's most breweried state, Bavaria, and in the district that makes the most colourful brews, Franconia.

Bavaria has several breweries owned by families called Maisel, not necessarily related - at least, not closely. The best known is this sizeable regional brewery, dating from 1886-7. The original Maisel brewery, magnificently castellated, is kept in working order and beautiful condition as a museum of beer-making and coopering, and is open for tours. It has a 1930s steam engine and a remarkable collection of early equipment, blueprints, and advertising enamels Next door is the remorselessly modern, 1974, premises.

The old bottling hall has been converted into a bar intended to reflect the Roaring Twenties. Franconia may be a long way from New York or Chicago, but one of the owning Maisels married an American wife.

Maisel is known to some beer-lovers for an ale-like speciality called Dampfbier ("Steam Beer") but has in recent years given more emphasis to its popular wheat beers.

The filtered version, Weisse Kristallklar, has a very fresh fruitiness of aroma; flavours of lemon pith or zest; and an extremely refreshing, crisp finish, like biting into an ice-cream wafer sandwich. In Germany, unfiltered, yeast-sedimented, wheat beers are more popular, especially among the young, who regard them as healthy in the same sense as wholegrain bread. This style is known as Hefe-Weizen (the words referring to yeast and wheat). Our beer of the month, Maisel's Weisse, is in that category. (Weisse means "white", a term often applied to wheat beers, with their very pale head).

The brewery's products also include a Dunkelweizen (dark wheat beer). a Weizenbock (extra strong wheat beer) and a beer-based spirit called Weisser Blitz ("White Lightning").

Tasting note:
Maisel's Weisse Original has a peachy colour, and is very fruity in aroma and flavor, with suggestions of apples and bananas; a fluffy, textured, middle; and a tart, refreshing, finish.

Food pairings:
Germans often enjoy this style of beer with a herbed veal sausage (Weisswurst). More exotically, I have seen wheat beer served with elderflower fritters. I think this style is, indeed, fruity enough to go with desserts. Ideally, fruity ones, of course. How about an apple pie, with cinnamon and cloves?

Published: AUG 31, 2000
In: Beer Hunter Online

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