Operation Dunkelweizen: Tasting Phase (part two)
When we last joined Operation Dunkelweizen, we sampled Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel and Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel. Today we will be tasting two more German Dunkelweizens, Ayinger Ur-Weisse and Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel. Since I've already given the background of the project in the first post, let's get right to the tasting.
The first difference you immediately notice between the two beers is the color. The Franziskaner pours a dark chestnut, somewhere inbetween the Erdinger and Weihenstephaner. The Ayinger, on the other hand, was by far the lightest of the four thus far, pouring a light copper hue. Interestingly, it reminds me somewhat of my favorite American Dunkelweizen, New Glarus's Copper Kettle, in appearance.
Moving on to aroma, like all the other Dunkelweizens the Franziskaner is heavy on the clove, with just a hint of chocolate. Of course, as soon as I make the generalization that all Dunkels are clove-forward, I take a whiff of the Ayinger and it's much more balanced between the clove and banana. When we last made our Weizenbock it was a bit of a banana bomb, and people really seemed to like it that way, but I'm leaning towards fermenting our Dunkelweizen at the cool end of the spectrum to get more clove out of it.
My first sip of the Franziskaner came closest to what I think I want in a Dunkelweizen. It was sweet up front but not cloyingly so. It had a characteristic bready wheat flavor, with a very slight yeasty tartness to it, but there was also a subtle caramel and cocoa profile in the background. While there was virtually no banana aroma, I picked up a slightly astringent flavor of banana peel in the finish. Overall it was a very flavorful but drinkable beer that had more depth than your standard Hefe but absolutely no roasty bitterness that is the bane of casual beer drinkers who won't drink dark brews.
Just as the aroma is more banana-forward with the Ayinger, so is the flavor. And as the appearance would suggest, it's much closer to the flavor of a traditional flavor than is the Franziskaner. You get the flavor of wheat bread mixed with some banana and just a little nuttiness to tell you it's not a regular Hefe. It's also a bit sweeter than a standard Hefe, with some caramel notes present. A good beer, don't get me wrong; it's just not "Dunkel" enough for my taste...
So with four Dunkelweizens down and one to go (our lone domestic offering, Two Brothers Bonfire Dunkel Weiss), I think I'm honing in on what I want. I'm thinking something more clove than banana, that's relatively heavy on the caramel malts (even though I'm generally against such malts in German-style beers), and has just a hint of roastiness--likely from chocolate wheat malt, which isn't as bitter and abrasive as its barley cousin.