Franziskaner “Weissbier”, Weihenstephaner “Hefe Weissbier”, and Paulaner “Hefe-Weizen”: Taking a page out of qhrumphf's book and doing a little horizontal tasting of quintessential examples of recognized BJCP styles for palate training. Decided to give 15A a whirl; Weizen / Weissbier. A few weeks ago I visited Midtown Biergarten with my girlfriend and tried Weihenstephaner’s Korbinian Doppelbock and found the inspiration I’d been chasing after all year.
Franziskaner: Light fruity esters and phenols of banana and clove. Wheaty, grainy character present, but well-balanced with esters. Super-light, clean hop character. Undertones of bubblegum. The esters are more prominent on the palate than the nose. Slightly sweet on the front of the palate with a concentration of wheat and bright citrus character. Medium body with a creamy, lively mouthfeel with an effervescent finish.
Weihenstephaner: The most carbonated of the three. Less pronounced esters and phenols than what I found in the Franziskaner example with notes of faint banana and a whisper of clove. Wheaty. No bubblegum presence. Little to no hop presence. Banana and clove character is more pronounced on the palate than the nose, but still less so than the Franziskaner. Echoes of spicy vanilla falling mid palate with a general wheaty-graininess blanketing the palate. Subtle sweet malt character. Undertones of tart citrus. Medium bodied with a minimal creaminess, lively mouthfeel and a light effervescent finish.
Paulaner: The darkest of the three. Minimal to moderate fruity esters and phenols produce the characteristic banana-y clove profile. Getting an Munich-like maltiness that imparts a really mild nuttiness, unique to this beer in my flight. Minimal wheat character compared to the others. More Munich malt character on the palate backed by notes of wheat and mild esters and phenols. Little to no sweetness on the palate. Moderate citrus on the front of the palate with breadiness falling mid palate and a lightly-kilned malt presence falling on the backend. Medium body with moderate creaminess, lively mouthfeel and a lightly effervescent finish.
Verdict: Franziskaner, Weihenstephaner, Paulaner. With my previous experiences in the style, I felt the Franziskaner was the most-representative of the style in line with the BJCP. The addition of the Munich-like maltiness in the Paulaner threw me off, something I was not expecting especially after reviewing the BJCP style guidelines. That isn’t to say I didn’t find it enjoyable. It was just unexpected and not something I was looking for. And though the Weihenstephaner was palatable, I felt it lacked the esters and phenol character I enjoy so much about Hefeweizens.
With three distinguished German breweries such as these, it goes without saying (but worth mentioning for those unfamiliar) that these were brewed according to Purity Law.
Nice, I started getting some German beers to get an accurate account of the styles as well. I have a lot to learn my palate sucks.