The first side of the Pilsner Madness bracket finishes up with the world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephaner, facing off against New York’s finest, Brooklyn Brewery.
Weihenstephaner Pilsner (7) – Weihenstephaner, a name I can never seem to spell correctly, has claimed to be the oldest continuously operated brewery in the whole world. With documentation regarding local Bavarian farmers paying hop-tithes (the best kind of tithes) to the Weihenstephan Abbey dating back to 768, it very possible that this is the oldest brewery still around. Weihenstephaner has a pretty extensive line-up (comparable to a lot of craft breweries in the US) including a Festbier, A Hefe-Dunkel, and even a non-alcoholic hefeweissbier!
Weihenstephaner also has a very well designed and highly navigable website that uses an animation of a beer glass being filled as its page loading indicator.
Brooklyn Pilsner (8) – My love affair with Brooklyn Brewery started with a simple pint of Pennant ’55 Ale. Since then I’ve sampled a lot of their suds, often satisfied, rarely disappointed. This brewery is 1219 years younger than Weihenstephaner, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t done some great things since it was founded in 1987. Owners Steve Hindy and Tom Potter, encouraged by their success and love of beer, wrote a memoir/how to brewing book (titled Beer School) that details their experiences with starting their own brewery and all of the business challenges therein.
Brooklyn pilsner was brewed in a style reminiscent to the light golden beer that was preferred in New York prior to the prohibition. The recipe boasts two-row barely malt and both Perle and Hallertauer hops, making this a very faithful recreation of the classic German-style pilsner.
The young Brooklyn pours a beautiful pale yellow with a twinge of amber, echoing the orange of its label. The old Weihenstephaner pours a perfectly clear pilsner-yellow with no off color, almost like liquid gold in a glass. Both bubble and billow into a large head as they’re poured, but retain very slight lacing that sends very subtle hop notes up your nose as you bring glass to lips.
A pretty even match.
Brooklyn’s flavor is enviable. Clean, crisp, surprisingly complex for the style of beer. Despite the overall quality, it has a very subtle carbonation burn on the tongue and the hops tend to get lost in the malty aftertaste. Weihenstephaner, somehow, is even more enviable. There is almost no acidity and the hops find a perfect harmony with the malt, making for lip-smacking refreshment. I felt it was very slightly under hopped, but that may just be an issue of personal preference. I guess nearly 1300 years is enough time to really get the recipe down.
I really enjoyed Brooklyn’s pilsner, but I have to give this one to Weihenstephaner, just because of technical brewing prowess and pedigree.