Take a world renowned brewery that will celebrate its 1,000th birthday in less than ten years’ time and one of the United State’s most successful craft brewers, give them each a copy of The Reinheitsgebot and two years to come up with a collaborative beer and the result is likely to be something special.
Judging by the reception it received last week when it was officially launched in Australia, ‘something special’ is exactly what these two parties have managed to put in a bottle.
Weihenstephan is the world’s oldest brewery and is German to its finely engineered beer bootstraps. The Boston Beer Company, better known as Samuel Adams, has been brewing since just 1984 although the pedigree – as well as the brewing recipes – stretches back to pre-Prohibition America. For the past two years these seemingly unlikely business partners have been ‘head down and bum up’ producing a beer that appears to break all the rules while actually adhering to them religiously.
The Reinheitsgebot is the German Purity Law passed in 1516 and still applicable today. It states in essence that beer can be made from only malt, hops, water and yeast and is the document from which this collaboration sought to derive its inspiration. But just how do you come up with something new, exciting – even daring – and still stick to the script?
Well, you aim high, of course, and you put your trust in each other’s ability to brew beers of rare distinction. You also push the boundaries of the rule book and incorporate a few deft touches to ensure the final result is worthy of the hype it may well generate.
This is not the first beer to blur the lines between the grain and the grape but in this case the ‘champagne-like texture’ is achieved by an initial fermentation with champagne yeast. The result is a beer with a deep golden hue, warm rich malt and plenty of fruity spice aromas but a sparkling attitude that dances across the tastebuds and hides skilfully its 10.5% ABV. Dry hopping with some noble German hops balances out the depth that the malt brings while bottle conditioning with a Weihenstephan yeast adds further complexity.
Launched in Melbourne at Beer Deluxe to an appreciative crowd of industry beer folk as well a lucky handful of the public it seems it will find a home at many celebrations. Its stylish bottle with wire cage and champagne cork will ensure it looks right at home in those places where a beer on the table might ordinarily be frowned upon.
So next time you are offered a glass of bubbles to toast a bride and groom or some other guest of honour, just ask the service attendant for an Infinium. It gives blokes the best of both worlds.