There are several reasons why I should love this beer. I love Weizenbocks, they might be my favorite style of beer. I like putting tea in my beer (although I don't like tea on its own, I always find myself adding it to homebrews). I'm also left handed, so I kind of have to like this beer, right? I've heard some really mixed reviews on this TNT Weizenbock from Left Hand so I figured I'd pick up a bottle and spend a few minutes giving it my undivided attention. As I've gotten more adventurous with my drinking I've noticed that the Left Hand beers I had enjoyed previously just weren't holding up to the competition. With TNT Left Hand has gotten more adventurous with their beers, so I'm anxious to see if this is some kind of turning point for a brewery I'd love to see succeed as a first class craft brewer.
I have a thing for the Weizenbock style, and I've been hearing a lot about the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp offerings this year, so when I saw bottles of Beer Camp Weizenbock at my local liquor store I didn't think twice about picking one up. The Beer Camp program is a sort of invitational Pro-Am event that takes place at Sierra Nevada in Chico. The group collaborates on a couple styles of beer and, if they turn out pretty decent, Sierra Nevada will bottle and release the beers to retail. It's a cool program, I'm anxious to see how the beer turned out.
I feel like I should make a confession before starting in on this beer. First, I have yet to drink a Victory beer that I liked. A couple of them weren't bad, but I wouldn't buy any of them again. That shouldn't really be a problem since Victory doesn't distribute to my area... Secondly, I love Weizenbocks. This is definitely one of my favorite beer styles. My diluted German heritage might have something to do with it, but I think I'm predisposed to liking Weizenbocks. So, I feel conflicted about trying to review this beer... On the one hand, I know I like this style of beer but on the other, I know I don't like any of the Victory beers I've had before.
Weizenbocks always surprise me. This is a style that has everything one would look for in a Doppelbock; big malty flavor, rich sweetness and a higher alcohol content. Doppelbocks have all of that without being too heavy or too grainy. Wheat adds a nice full texture and a nice Weizen-like yeast component that, I think, really takes Weizenbocks to the next level. But, what about the NEXT next level? This bottle of Aventinus is a Doppel Weizenbock, so it should be twice as great as all those other Weizenbocks I've had, right? Oh, I hope so...
Plank is a German brewer which only recently started showing up in the import section of my local liquor store. I haven't been drinking many German styles recently so I pretty much overlooked Plank's entire line up. This bottle of Dunkler Weizenbock was a gift, and a well thought out one at that. I've had only a handful of Weizenbocks before and I've really enjoyed them. In the world of German beers there are only about five main styles and the Reinheitsgebot doesn't allow for a whole lot of creativity, at least not when you compare German beers to their Belgian or American competition. Weizenbocks are one of the stylistic offshoots that provide a little variety in the otherwise strictly ordered world of German beer.
Vitus is Weihenstephan's winter seasonal. It's like a traditional Bock only in the sense that it's a bigger beer with a bit more alcohol that will keep you warm through the cold winter months. Where the Vitus differs from other Bocks is that that it's based off of Weihenstephan's delicious Hefe-Weissbier. Rather than starting with a malty dark lager base like Bocks and Doppelbocks, the Vitus starts with a sweet and sour Weiss base. This Weizenbock is really a bit more like a Doppelweiss.... it has all of the characteristics of the Weissbier base but has a bumped up alcohol content. The alcohol flavor that comes through in the aftertaste is just about the only thing this beer really has in common with your traditional dark Bock beer. Rather than creamy like most Bocks, this beer is more crisp and much lighter in texture even if it is 7.7% ABV.