In Autumn 2014, BrewDog joined forces with legendary German brewer, Weihenstephan to release an ‘India Pale Weizen’, which was effectively a hopped up wheat beer. It was like a beery fanta orange on the nose, & in my view it was a really out there beer-style hybrid. Here we are in late Autumn 2017, three years later, & BrewDog have released another IPW, this time on their own called ‘Nine to Five Wizard’. Is this deja-vú, or a time-turner moment a-lá Harry Potter from Ellon?
I’ll try any beer once at least. It wasn’t always the case, such as Lagers & Pilsners. Weizen beers are something which I’ve only tended to drink while in Germany in the past. When brewers ‘hop’or ‘dry hop’ a beer style that hasn’t traditionally called for it, Iv’e taken notice as a self-certified hop addict, & tended towards seeking them out a bit more aggressively.
Weizen or ‘weisse’ or ‘wheat beers’ are a traditional ale originating in Southern Germany that is a specialty for summer consumption, but generally produced year-round. Tradtionally, they have no noble hop character. And for the benefit of those who don’t speak ‘beer-geek’:
“The term “noble hops” traditionally refers to varieties of hops which are low in bitterness and high in aroma. They are the European cultivars or races Hallertau, Tettnanger, Spalt, and Saaz.“
In other words, wheat beers have almost no bitterness, or hop aromas typically, & focus more on the ‘breadyness’ of the aroma from the malts (50% or more must be wheat if you follow BJCP guidelines) & a banana/clove aroma generally provided by the yeast.
When BrewDog worked with German brewer Weihenstephan to create BrewDog VS Weihenstaphan India Pale Weizen, it was a real sense of not just tearing up tradition for the sake of, but to see how far tradition could be pushed to add more to the party. Fast-forward a few years & BrewDog do what seems like a ‘revisit’ as with some beers lately of this, with a suped up version of the beer calling it ‘Nine to Five Wizard‘, clocking in at a rather nice 7.5% ABV.
As with BrewDog special beers, this also has an amazing artwork adorning the can, done in a real balls out psychadelic fashion created by Yuko Kondo. I know, you’re reading this & going “How does it taste Ian, get on with it already?”
Well, when you pour this (if you’re going to be one of those sanctimonious ‘I-drink-from-glasses-not-cans’ people), it’sa nice hazy amber colour with a pretty nice creamy white head on it. The aroma is like a super split icecream; a hint of vanilla with alot of orange, for those of you who remember these growing up in the 80’s when they were twenty of your Irish pence.
This is most welcome as you dip your nose in & linger. Yes, there’s a small touch of banana on the nose, but it’s not dominant. Orange is noticeably there amongst the wheat, but it’s neither pithy nor sweet. And the first taste is creamy & the orange appears with a sense of a vanilla-esque sweetness. The bitter is mild, yet adhesive in the finish, with the orange giving way to some melodic burst of tropical & citrus fruit flavours. There’s a boozy quality here which is pleasant without being abrasive.
Wheat beers for me like a few other styles have never ‘grabbed me’ unless its my own ‘Blood Moon’ wheat ale, as I’ve never had a fondness for the whole banana/clove-no bitterness thing. But this piques my interest because of the bittering, the booziness & the whole super split flavour thing going on, which this Summer was revived through the soft drink by Club, a Super Split orange & vanilla drink.
It would be easy to point at this beer & lazily say “Hey, it’s BrewDog recycling ideas.” I’ve never been one for lazy. But, I don’t think a brewery should ever not revisit something & ask “could we have done this better?” or “I loved that, but I think I’ve a cool spin on this.”
This is what happens in the real world around product creation. Definitive products have come from past mediocrities that have been either reworked by their progenitors or by someone else, like an all touch screen phone. Sure, Nokia were there first, but it was Apple that took it something for everyone.
This to me is a beer that right now is apt. While everyone is still getting their rocks off to New England IPA’s or dessert-flavoured monstrosity imperial stouts, or a sour de-jour, this is a welcome pace change in the mix in our beer market. It’s also an apt bridge to what is doppel-bock season as the nights draw in & get cold, while still providing a decent nod to those who like to walk on the citrus bitter side of #BeerLife.