Weissenohe Monk’s Christmas – 5.1% ABV
I thought this was an interesting one. The look alone certainly caught my eye. Monk’s Christmas, eh? Fair enough. This one is brewed by Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe, a German brewer. Apparently this place has a long history. In 1050 AD, Benedictine monks opened the Weissenohe Abbey in Franconia where they started brewing their beer, following the strict German beer purity law of Reinheitsgebot (I’ve mentioned this one before).
When I found this, I was looking around for Christmas beers to pick up and review. I don’t know how it is a Christmas beer, aside from the name. I have heard that it is more commonly known as Weissenohe Bonifatius Dunkel when it is not the holiday season. I guess they use the same recipes for holiday beers as they do for märzens and regular dunkels (German for “dark”). Whatever, I’m just looking forward to diving into this German import to see if it impresses.
Getting a look at this beer, I see a murky and hazy brown color with a huge off-white/ivory head when I poured this into a weissen glass. The smell that came off of this was instantly recognizable – caramel. Dark roasted malts play a big part in the color and aroma for this beer. There is little hop presence to make itself known. Just as well, I’m more of a malt and barley fan than a hophead. Regardless, I’m tired of getting my nose all foamy. It’s time to sample the goods.
The first sip gave me what I’ve come to expect from many of the German beers I’ve had – plenty of earthy caramel malt flavor, not much else. In my experience (and I’ve noted this before) German beer tends to be old school, no frills, and by the book. In other words, little room for creativity or outside-the-box thinking. Just stick with a proven formula and milk it for everything it’s worth. Some may say it’s boring and old hat, but if you’ve got a time-tested recipe that works, why mess with it? As I drank this, I did notice a few dark fruit characteristics that made themselves known – raisin and maybe a touch of plum. Very little hop bite was present, even through the finish. The mouthfeel and texture was smooth and creamy, quite malty.
If I am to be of any help here, I feel obligated to mention that this is a full-bodied beer. One of these is like having a meal. I do however think that this being labeled Monk’s Christmas is a little disingenuous. Like I said before, this beer could be brewed, poured and consumed year-round. The fact that it is listed as a Christmas beer and has no “traditional” Christmas elements to it (cinnamon or nutmeg spice) does detract from its holiday appeal in my eyes. Simply put, it’s a tasty bock beer. It’s not bad, but it’s not exactly awe-inspiring either. The brewers did put forth a solid effort though, I will give them that much. In my experience, German brewers have been known for this. If it aint broke, don’t fix it, right?