Monday, July 23, 2012

Weiss Principal Ale - Peak Organic

Weiss Principal from Peak Organic Brewing Company is an interesting beer, described as “the international love child of a Hefe-Weisse and an American IPA”.  If your thoughts about beer are anything like mine you might be wondering how on earth those two beer styles can be combined, and whether or not the two defining features of either would be able to shine through.

Jon Cadoux, co-founder of Peak Organic was nice enough to let me interview him about his brewery, and I am going to post the interview in my next post, but I should provide a bit of background into Jon and Peak Organic before heading into the review.  Founded in Portland Maine by Jon Cadoux and his fellow home brewing friends, Peak Organic has made a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, family farms and above all organic ingredients. 

When I asked Jon why the strong commitment to small farms and organic ingredients his response was straight forward, a simple, “it tastes better”.  Peak Organic isn’t about brewing with organic ingredients just as a selling point, they are seeking out the best ingredients available and developing personal relationships with farmers to ensure that every ingredient is of the highest quality possible, and oh by the way is also organic.
There will be much more on Peak Organic in my next post, for now lets move on to the review.

On Beeradvocate, Weiss Principal has an 80.  Over at ratebeer it has a 66 overall and a 19 for style.  As usual, ratebeer misses the point by a long shot, but even BA has rated this ale a bit lower than I expected.  Perhaps the raters at both site approached this with preconceived notions about what it should taste like rather than enjoying and taking it for what it is.

They say:

Weiss Principal is the international love child of a Hefe-Weisse and an American IPA. This unfiltered Wheat beer employs a traditional German Weiss yeast, providing engaging banana and clove flavors. A stern dry-hopping of pungent American hops provides pronounced citrus, pine and fruit notes. It’s so tasty, it may be punishable.
ABV: 8.6%
IBUs: 97

Jon added:
We use a ridiculous amount of wheat, some pale malt and just a touch of Munich malt.  Our early hop additions are Centennial, and then the late and dry are massive Cascade hop bombs.

I say:
            This part is going to differentiate slightly from the normal posts because at Jon’s suggestion I actually tried this beer three different ways, across two bottles.  The order of the reviews is: 

1)      Like a traditional hefeweizen with the beer poured and all of the sediment added in my 22 oz hefeweizen glass

2)      The beer decanted from the sediment and completely clear

3)      The last 8 ounces of the beer with all the sediment that remained in the bottle

So first, the review with a traditional hefeweizen pour:

            This beer is a wonderful hazy orange with a nice thick white head that has excellent retention and great lacing in the glass.  It is beautiful to behold and looks like an excellent hefeweizen.  The aromas are of citrus and pine from the hops, with definitely banana notes from the yeast and a wheat backbone with a slight sour finish.  This is definitely an excellent beer with the right amount of IPA hoppiness while retaining the wonderful banana esters of a traditional German hefeweizen.

            The flavor was defined by tons of mango and pine from the hops, with a noticeable wheat backbone.  It was sweet, yet at the same time bitter with a very smooth finish.  It was highly carbonated and an exceptionally big beer for a wheat, but I suppose that’s why they call it “An Imperial German-Style Hefe-Weisse”

Next, a review of the beer decanted off the sediment:

            Without the sediment this beer pours a crystal clear light golden with a nice white head that still held great retention and provided good lacing.  The aroma was extremely piney and resiney with all the qualities of an excellent west coast IPA.  I could have enjoyed the aroma for hours, but then I would not have been able to actually enjoy drinking the beer.

            The flavor is extremely piney, and resiny with just the slightest bit of wheat in the background and a bitter, hoppy finish.  This is definitely a major hop bomb like Jon indicated.  Without the wheat and yeast from the sediment, it finishes very crisp and clean with few if any fruity esters from the yeast.

Finally, the last 8 ounces with all the sediment:

            Mixing the last 8 ounces with the sediment and re-pouring left me with a very pale, cloudy, apricot colored beer that had a nice thick and creamy head.  Wheat and banana dominate the aroma; however, there is still a slight bit of pine from the hops.

            The flavor was dominated by the yeast and wheat, with banana fruity esters, and just the slightest bit of pine from the hops.  It was extremely smooth and thick, almost like a milkshake; and oh what a delicious milkshake it was.  This was an excellent way to finish off the bottle, then again I have a soft spot for Germen Hefe-Weisse yeast.

This was an excellent beer that I would highly recommend if you can find it near you.  Be sure to drink it with an open mind because it isn’t quite a hefeweizen and it isn’t quite an IPA; expecting it to fit neatly into either category will leave you disappointed an unfulfilled.  Instead, you should approach this beer as a specialty beer; one that should be enjoyed for what it is.  If you approach this beer with the right mindset then you will definitely enjoy it and seek out as many bottles as you can find.  I wish I could rush out and pick up another bottle, but my second bottle was the last one in stock.  Oh well, there is always next year!

Check back on Wednesday for my complete interview with Jon Cadoux of Peak Organic Brewing!  Have a great day!!!

Happy Drinking!!!

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