Revolution and Beer…of the week: Dunkel Weiss Throwdown, Bavaria vs. Chicago


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Debbie_mediumThere’s a great little hidden café beside the English Garden in Munich, Germany, sometimes called the “Naked” Garden. The first time I went to Munich I was all excited to see naked people frolicking in what amounts to a park in the heart of a bustling and historic city. Turns out, most of the naked people are these ex-hippie German guys. Not quite what I expected. Still, the English garden is an amazing place, pressed between the artsy and Bohemian shops of Schwabing and the Isar River. Presiding over nude sunbathers, ad hoc soccer games, picnicking families and strolling pensioners stands the classically inspired Monopteros. It’s always a destination when I visit, the café is the reward.

Munich's English Garden

Munich’s English Garden

Located on the quiet corner of Veterinar Strasse and Konigin Strasse , and shrouded in ivies and small trees, it is suitably insulated from the traffic rush and bustle along Ludwig Strasse. They serve a local Dunkel Weiss in tall, narrow Weiss glasses. this is the birthplace of the Weiss Beer, and though many have tried, that crown has remained properly secure, until now.

Could it be that the center of the Weiss Beer universe has shifted to Chicago? Gasp! Guffaw! Say it isn’t so! And I can hear all my German friends sharpening knives and soaking torches in oil.

Brian and I tried three different dark Weiss beers, and threw in another local traditional Weiss just for fun. The First, a Moosebacher Schwarze Weiss, has long been one of my favorites. It is a rich and mellow weisse, with fruity notes and rich dark malts. keep the lemon, or all the other hipster fruit garnishes. I want to taste the layers and character of a beer. Moosbacher is alw ays enjoyable, enlivening all those great memories of Munich.

Next we had to sample Franziskaner, though despite the pride inherent, it is a little sort of like Munich’s Budweiser. Ouch! Those knives are getting sharper. Lighter in character than the Moosebacher, this deep golden-brown brew, to be fair and accurate, is still a far sight better than Budweiser.

The surprise, the beer that stopped Brian and I in our tracks was not a Bavarian brew, but one from the Northside of Chicago. And to be honest, I didn’t want to like this beer as much as I did, and I certainly didn’t want to like it better than the age old German offerings. I’m proud to say II have tried several dozen Bavarian and German Dark Weiss beers, some made in small establishments and served fre sh as can be, but Spiteful Brewing’s Debbie Downer Dunkel Weizen really stole the show.

The author in Miltenberg, Bavaria

The author in Miltenberg, Bavaria

It packs a punch at 7%ABV. Rich with roasted malts with hints of plum and pair, extra black malt adds Debbie Downer’s extra depth. Perhaps not a traditional Weiss, Spitefuls offering is sort of like bell bottoms were to straight-legged slacks of the 50’s, not entirely original, but revolutionary just the same. The color was as dark as night, and though it didn’t hold the lacing quite as well as it’s Bavarian cousins, the depth of flavor certainly made up for that.

Just for fun, though now three beers into our little survey Brian and I weren’t quite as focused as when our little experiment began, we checked out Two Brother’s Edel Weiss. Not dark, but rather a crisp golden color with a thick white head, this offering from a great suburban Chicago brewer was fruity and pleasant, and on a par with the best German contemporaries.

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