Beer: Beer Week Weizenbock Brewery: Four Peaks Brewing Co., Wanderlust Brewing Co., Mother Road Brewery, Huss Brewing Co., Ten Fifty-Five Brewing, Dragoon Brewing Co. Style: Weizenbock ABV: 7.5 percent
Happy Beer Week, readers! You tired of beer yet? Me neither.
This week's brew encompasses the best that Arizona has to offer in both food and beer. Created to commemorate this glorious week, Beer Week Weizenbock is a collaborative effort between six of Arizona's best breweries that showcases our state's brewing brainpower as well as indigenous ingredients. Northern Arizona breweries Wanderlust Brewing Co. and Mother Road Brewery brought roasted piñon nuts and high country hops; Tucson brewers Ten Fifty-Five Brewery and Dragoon Brewing Co. added locally grown Sonoran white wheat and Southern harvest hops; Phoenix's own Four Peaks Brewery and Huss Brewing Co. threw in some locally grown orange peel and native tepary beans.
As a style, it's easiest to think of weizenbock as a hefeweizen brewed to the strength of a doppelbock, a malty, high-alcohol German lager. The style, brewers say, was chosen to accommodate the addition of the Sonoran wheat. They also thought the style's spicy, fruity yeast character would enhance both the nuttiness of the piñon and the earthiness of the tepary beans.
They were right. An unfiltered brew, the Beer Week Weizenbock fills a weizen glass with muddy liquid the color of freshly dug earth. If left to sit, a fluffy, sticky tan head pops away slowly, decorating the glass with webs of lace. The nose is as complex as you'd expect from a beer of this pedigree. Caramel and toasted biscuits, banana and pear, and raisins and chocolate all make appearances.
But it's in the flavor that the mosaic of Arizona-grown ingredients truly combine to form a whole. The front of the flavor is fairly sweet, swirling with notes of raisin, banana, pear, and alcohol. The finish is all malt, however -- toasted wheat hits first, followed by lingering caramel and slightly bitter cocoa. Every now and then, I get a flash of roasty earthiness I'll attribute to those piñon nuts, toasted and mallet-smashed by Urs Riner of Mother Road. The body -- luscious, smooth and velvety -- envelops the tongue, prickling it gently. Orange peel and local hops, added at the end of the boil, contribute little to the whole blend, but that's not a problem -- the rich malt flavors and fruity yeast esters shine without them.
Tapping this week at more than 50 locations throughout the state, including at the respective breweries who put it together, Beer Week Weizenbock is a smooth, drinkable, fun brew. Just as you might find when you explore our state and its ever expanding craft beer landscape, there's something new to be found with every sip.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.