I certainly didn’t expect to see a smoked weizen in Japan, as this is a pretty unusual style, so while I’m not too big a fan of Minoh I was still excited to see that they tried their hand at it, releasing it as the Minoh Smoke Weizen. We’ll put it up against the best-known smoked beer producer and sample the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen with it.
Minoh Smoke Weizen (箕面・スモークヴァイツェン)
Package: 330mL bottle
Pour – Cloudy, apple juice gold, creamy foam
Aroma – Noticeable smoke, strong banana as well
Flavor – Very thin and watery, mild smoke, a bit of cloves and banana but very faint, some sugar on the finish
We’ve covered a couple of Minoh weizens before, with their not-s0-good regular Weizen, and also their somewhat interesting but ultimately falls-a-bit-short Kokusan Momo Weizen (a peach weizen). As we haven’t had great experiences with them so far, we certainly aren’t expecting a lot out of this one. However, they should be given credit for even attempting one, as this is the first smoked weizen that I’ve seen here. Incidentally, they brewed this beer for White Day, and while I can’t think of why a smoked weizen would be particularly suitable for that they do mention in their release notes the usual sexist marketing of saying that weizens are popular with the ladies. Perhaps they are trying to combine their manly image of the smoked beer with their feminine image of the weizen and that would make it perfect for White Day? I have no idea, but they do need to stop with the whole women-like-weizens thing.
On that note, let’s move on to the beer! The Minoh Smoke Weizen is doomed by its thin, watery texture (much like it’s regular Weizen elder sibling), and frankly is quite a disappointing beer. The aroma starts out pretty decent with smoke and banana, but there is almost nothing in terms of flavor here. If you squint hard enough you’ll see some weizen-like banana and cloves in there, and the smoke is at least noticeable (if weak), but there’s nowhere enough there to overcome how thin and watery this beer is. Unfortunately another poor offering from Minoh, but at least let’s give them a bit of kudos for having a go at this.
Although it’s not a good beer you would have been able to find this at Liquors Hasegawa (where I bought mine), but also at Izuya, Deguchiya, and Le petit L’ouest as well. They may be out now, but if you’re curious to try a local (but not good) smoked weizen, you may still be able to find one.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen
Package: 500mL bottle
Misc: IBU – 20
Pour – Very cloudy and murky, brownish-red, some carbonation but not so much for a weizen
Aroma – Smoke is strong, but also can detect wheat and cloves
Flavor – Smoke is quite strong at first, but ends with a good amount of tartness and lemon citrus, a fairly unique and interesting beer
If you’ve caught our earlier review of the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock, you might note that we really loved that one, so you might consider us one of the many fans of this brewery. As we mentioned above, smoked weizens aren’t very common, but if anybody is going to do it right it would be Schlenkerla. In case you’re curious, their product information page clarifies that only the barley malt is smoked, while the wheat malts are not. Let’s see what it all leads to.
The Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen is surprisingly balanced, and while the smokiness is of course quite strong it doesn’t completely overwhelm the weizen aspects. There is actually some lemon tartness here, which is a pleasant surprise, and it does a great job of combining the smoky aspects with the wheat and fruit aspects that you might expect out of a weizen. This is indeed a very very interesting beer, and another winner from Schlenkerla.
Interestingly I bought mine at Bon Repas in Naka-meguro at an incredible discount, where they were basically offering two bottles for less than the price of one. I had to ask the store clerk to clarify because it sounded way too good to be true, but essentially it was cheaper to buy two bottles than buy one bottle – I guess they really wanted to move them! Ultimately that meant I paid 250 yen for this 500mL bottle (one bottle was 550 yen, two bottles were 500 yen total), so especially given that this is a very good beer that was quite a spectacular deal.
Alas, they were only offering this deal as it was relatively close to the expiration date of the beer, so you won’t find it at those prices there now, but if you can get your hands on it try this beer. It’s a good one, and really shows you how good this unusual style can be. Clearly it’s a far superior beer compared to the Minoh Smoke Weizen, and we give it a very strong recommendation.