Hybrid beer styles have seen a large rise to popularity in American ever since the revival of Anchor Brewing Company’s Steam beer under the ownership of Fritz Maytag who purchased the San Francisco brewery in 1965. But it wasn’t the California Common, Cream Ale, or even Blonde Ale styles that began the hybrid craze of using very characteristic aspects of different styles to enhance another particular style.
It was the Germans who first began to dabble with “hybrid” beer, producing Alt beer, or “old” beer in Düsseldorf. The old style, which predated refrigeration and the isolation of bottom-fermenting lager yeast, was born out of necessity but, once lager yeast was isolated, a whole world of styles opened up. One of these styles was Bock beer, which was followed closely by the stronger doppelbock version. As a creative answer to the popular doppelbock style of the time, G. Schneider & Sohn brewery in Bavaria created Aventinus in 1907; this first-ever top-fermented (ale) doppelbock also incorporated wheat, combining the two styles for what would later be dubbed Weizenbock meaning “wheat bock”.
To achieve the rich, bready malt characteristics of a doppelbock, weizenbocks are brewed with darker-kilned malt, giving it a rich amber to dark brown color topped by a tall, mousse-like head fed by a higher level of carbonation. Yeast imparts cloudiness throughout the beer while wheat’s higher protein content struggles to maintain clarity in this unfiltered style. Similar to Germany’s classic hefeweizen and dunkelweizen beers the weizenbock style employs the same unique and unforgettable aroma and flavor of banana and clove yeast esters and phenols respectively; both byproducts of the fermentation process.
Traces of dark fruit and vanilla can come from the rich maltiness which, in conjunction with the wheat, gives weizenbocks a full-yet-soft body with a creamy feel and slightly warming finish from the elevated alcohol content. Leaning slightly sweeter, this balanced beer is a great winter alternative to the summer-like hefeweizens. Serve a weizenbock in a traditional weizen glass between 40 and 45°F to release it’s maximum flavor profile – this beer, which can reach upwards of 8% ABV – opens up in aroma and flavor as it warms up!