By Alan J. Wax
What happens when the world’s oldest brewery and America’s longest-standing craft brewer combine talents? In a word, a masterpiece.
The two breweries, Bavaria’s Weihenstephan, established in 1040, and Sierra Nevada, established in Chico, Calif. in 1979, joined forces last year to create this new beer, Braupakt Hefeweissbier, bottled under the German brewer’s label.
The finished product. bottled earlier this year and now is finding its ways into U.S. retail channels in time for summer quaffing, is not your typical Bavarian Hefe.
How could it be with input from Sierra Nevada’s brewmasters. It meets all the requisites of a good Bavarian hefe. But there’s also the fruity happiness we’ve come to expect from Sierra Nevada.
“Both breweries had something to glean and gain from the other. noted Tobias Zollo, brewmaster at Weihenstephan said in a press release. “We came in with high standards for the Hefeweissbier style. Sierra Nevada, who is world-renowned for the Pale Ale style, came in with the discerning palettes for fruity and aromatic-bodied beers. With Braupakt, we were able to exceed the expectations of both breweries.”
Recipe development took the better part of 2017. It was brewed traditionally, with Hallertauer Tradition hops and refined with American West Coast Amarillo and Chinook hops.
Braupakt (literally translated; brewery pact) merges Old World purity standards with New World innovation and hop flavors. The name plays on America’s “bro pact” vernacular for fraternal allegiances. The label features the imperial Bavarian bear sporting a “hang loose” gesture.
“Sierra Nevada has often collaborated with other brewers, but none as well-regarded as Weihenstephaner. Previous Sierra Nevada collaborators include Stone Brewing and Dogfish Head. “When we look to create these partnerships, rarely do you get to work with breweries of [Weihenstephan’s] stature and we were blown away by the process,” said Scott Jennings, brewmaster of Sierra Nevada said in a press release. “Not only are we blown away by the finished beer… we learned a lot on this journey as well from one of the original visionaries in our industry.”
Not only does this beer have a good story, it delivers a fine drinking experience.
The beer pours a cloudy, deep gold, almost amber with a dense, creamy, bright white head. The nose carries aromas of citrus fruit, no doubt derived from the American hop varieties, as well as notes of stone fruit with just a hint of banana. On the palate, there are notes of clove, citrus, bread and other spices. There’s a mild sweetness. It’s smooth and easily drinkable.With about 6 percent ABV and 35 IBUs, the beer is eminently drinkable.