We talked about bock beers in our Fujizakura Heights Rauch Bock review not long ago (that is a fantastic beer, by the way), and today we’ll be looking at an ale variant of the bock – the weizen bock. Locally we have the Fujizakura Heights Weizen Bock, and we also have the Vitus from the venerable German brewery Weihenstephaner.
Fujizakura Heights Weizen Bock (富士桜高原・ヴァイツェンボック)
Package: 330mL bottle
Pour – Orange amber, lots of sediment, solid carbonation
Aroma – Soft banana and malt, bubble gum, slight alcohol
Flavor – Tangy, spritzy and soda water initially, sweet on the finish, malty in the middle, but has a bit of dirty water in the middle as well
Fujizakura Heights are a pretty dependable producer of good to great German-style beers. Their standard Weizen is one of the better weizens in Japan, and their limited Mandarina Bavaria weizen is one of the best weizens I’ve ever had from anywhere. That bodes well for their Weizen Bock so let’s see what it’s all about.
The Fujizakura Heights Weizen Bock serves as their Christmas beer and it’s one of their most anticipated releases of the year (if you want to really feel the excitement you can watch the first bottle come off the line). The online sets sell out pretty quickly, and I don’t know if they don’t make enough of their seasonals to meet demand or something but I had quite a bit of trouble finding this beer around Tokyo. Eventually I managed to track it down at Tokyo Liquor Land but the usual suspects (Tanakaya, Tokyo Liquor Land) didn’t carry it for whatever reason.
However, despite all of the buildup, for me this beer is a big disappointment. The aromas are pretty mild, which is OK, but flavor-wise I think this is a bit step down from what they normally are able to do. Especially compared to their regular weizen, which has a lot of banana in both the aroma and flavor, the Weizen Bock comes across as somewhat insipid, and I think out of all of the descriptors used soda water is probably the most accurate. I will give them some bonus points for having a very cute label (snowman!), but overall, very disappointing as they are normally very dependable. Let’s hope our Old World contestant fares better.
Package: 500mL bottle
Misc: IBU – 17
Pour – Very yellow gold, cloudy, lots and lots of foam
Aroma – Very very wheaty in aroma, also lots of banana (but like real banana, kind of unnerving) and apricot, pear
Flavor – Creamy, a fair amount of wheat, cinnamon and pear on the finish, overall tangy and spicy
We touched upon Weihenstephaner in our earlier review of their classic Hefeweissbier, and as that one was an awesome weizen, we’re very excited to see what the world’s oldest brewery throws up for their weizen bock. To add to the hype, even though of course these awards are mostly meaningless, it’s still cool to be named the best beer in the world, which the Vitus was in 2011 at the World Beer Awards in England.
The Vitus, which is described by the brewery itself in all kinds of fruitalicious terms, is indeed very fruity. The aroma alone is worth the price of admission – you get lots of wheat initially, but the fruit bouquet is quite impressive – banana, apricot, and pear are the ones that I can identify. The flavors are also quite nice, with the fruit and wheat coming together to create a spicy, tangy aspect to it. The finish is fantastic, with pear and cinnamon carrying it through. A very flavorful beer, and certainly not what I expected!
So today has been a bit uneven – the Fujizakura Heights Weizen Bock was a letdown (full disclosure: I had this beer last year and felt pretty much the same way about it then), but the Weihenstephaner Vitus was fantastic. I’m not sure if I would necessarily award it best beer in the world, but it’s a good one – I’ve seen it at Tanakaya, Tokyo Liquor Land and Liquors Hasegawa, so try it if you haven’t already.
I’ve also cheated a bit and saved my favorite Japanese weizen bock (the Baeren Ursus) and foreign weizen bock (the Schneider Aventinus) for the next weizen bock review, so stay tuned!