Back in the early nineties, in my first flush of beer geekdom, Aventinus was a beer that made a great impression on me. When I saw a few bottles recently, I grabbed them to review for The Brew Club.
Aventinus is brewed in Kelheim, Bavaria, by Schneider-Weisse; George Schneider acquired the Weisse Hofbräuhaus (the oldest wheat beer brewery in Munich) in 1855 and was granted the right to brew by King Ludwig II back in 1872. The family continued to brew in Munich until George Schneider IV diversified, acquiring breweries in Kelheim and Straubing in the 1920’s. This was propitious as the Munich breweries were destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944.
Schneider-Weisse are still being run by the Schneider family, now Georges V & VI, with young George VII being born in 1995. George VII’s first words are said to have been “Schneider-Weisse” so it could be considered that the brewery is in safe hands.
Aventinus is a doppelbock (double brew) and was first devised in 1907 by Mathilde Schneider, the widow of George Schneider III. Mathilde took over the running of the brewery after her husband died at the youthful age of 35, Mathilde herself lasted well into her nineties.
While most doppelbocks are bottom fermented using lager yeasts, Aventinus is a full bodied top-fermented wheat beer, brewed in open vats using spring water, local wheat and barley and the finest Hallertau hops. It’s brewed to a full 8.2% ABV and unpasteurised to allow for secondary fermentation in the bottle, the extra slug of yeast means you’re into unfiltered wheat beer country.
Imagine this as a wheat beer’s bigger, stronger brother and you’ll be getting the general idea.
While wheat beers tend to be pale and crisp this is dark and intense. Hold it up to the light and it’s cloudy thunderheads instead of summer lightning.
Nose wise, instead of orange peel and banana notes, you get Christmas pudding, black cherries and cinnamon; with some over-ripe banana hiding in the back. And that potent nose translates into the flavour, it’s incredibly complex, you get a sharp/sour note that’s close to a Belgian Lambic and then the full flavour rolls in; once again, it’s Christmas pudding, raisins, cherries and a hint of caramel. Wonderful.
When we first tasted Aventinus back in the day, my good friend Jon described it as ‘Like drinking a train, the taste knocks you out, and when you try and stand up wham! The next carriage hits you.”
I’ve not tasted this for at least ten years but, without hesitation I’ll give it Five Stars – a true classic.