Tasting Notes: Braupakt from Weihenstephan & Sierra Nevada

braupaktpourThis installment of Tasting Notes has us closing out the week with an in-depth look at Braupakt, the highly-anticipated collaboration beer from Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan (Freising, Germany) and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California).

When Weihenstephan – the World’s Oldest Brewery – and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – one of America’s pioneering craft brewers – come together to work on a collaboration project, it kind of goes without saying that the beer community is going to take notice.  The resulting beer that everyone is talking about is Braupakt (literally translates to mean “Brewery Pact” but is also a play on “America’s ‘bro pact’ vernacular for fraternal allegiances”), a Hefeweizen that introduces a style that is rich in German tradition – Weihenstephan’s area of expertise – to a carefully selected hop bill comprised of juicy American hops – Sierra Nevada’s playground –  that can both complement and accentuate the style’s classic flavors and aromatics.  When all is said and done, Braupakt promises to be a unique take on a classic style that will effortlessly reinforce both breweries’ reputations for “establishing brewing standards for their respective styles and . . . renowned . . . contributions to contemporary brewing techniques.”

Braupakt is currently available in the US and will hang around as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this Limited Edition beer available in 6-packs of 11.2 oz. bottles (suggested retail price of $10.99) at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Weihenstephan’s nationwide distribution network.

Now that we are all up to speed on the particulars behind Braupakt, let’s break out the Weizen glasses and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Braupakt from Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan & Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Appearance: Braupakt presents itself as a burnt orange in color that holds a darker amber tone at the core of the glass’s bulb.  When held to direct light, that amber core holds as vibrant orange and bright gold hues burst outward from the center.  The beer is appropriately cloudy for the style, but you can still see a dutiful carbonation presence rising up to feed the 3+ fingers of cream-colored head sitting above.  Head retention is extraordinary, gradually falling to a lasting, rocky finger that effortlessly coats the glass with gobs of lace throughout the experience.

Aroma:  The hops turn up first with a nice grapefruit presence that takes on notes of ripe to over ripe peach and melon.  Clove then works its way through and brings with it banana and bubblegum notes to establish a very pronounced Hefeweizen character. The aromatics close out with just a bit of honey-laced wheat and caramel.

Taste:  Although similar to the aroma, this beer’s flavors mix it up a bit by leading with those beautiful, trademark Hefeweizen notes of banana, bubblegum and clove.  The hops work their way out of the clove and fully engulf the palate with tones of peach, melon, apricot, lemon zest and grapefruit.  A touch of pine and black pepper slips in just before the beer finishes with some gently sweet notes of wheat and caramel.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a medium to medium-high carbonation level, this beer has a beautifully creamy texture that allows you to fully explore every aspect of each sip.  The hops supply a bit more bite than you would normally expect from a Hefeweizen, but they are held in check and gorgeously balanced by the sweeter banana notes from the yeast and caramel from the malts.  The ABV is tame at 6%, but it does allow for a touch of warmth in the throat.  The aftertaste is a welcomed, lingering presence of clove and peach.

Final Thoughts:  Braupakt delivers exactly what you hope would come from a brew day led by the master brewers at Weihenstephan and Sierra Nevada.  They wrapped that legendary Hefeweizen base around some juicy American hops to offer just the right amount of invigorating brightness (citrus fruit and pine) while a stone fruit character (peach and apricot) actually accentuates and highlights the style’s more expected clove, banana and bubblegum tones. It is the best of both worlds meeting on middle ground.  Its Hefeweizen character is absolutely stunning and is not at all bullied by those American hops . . . but those juicy hops still find their moments to shine brilliantly through those Hefeweizen notes and elevate the overall experience.  These brewers were clearly looking for a sweet spot between the two, and they certainly found it in this artful composition.  Braupakt is not your everyday collaboration project and it certainly should not be missed.  Be sure to check it out before this Limited Release runs its course and disappears for good.  Prost!

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