By John Antolos
Price Range : $4 - 6
Region: Freising, Bavaria, Germany ABV: 7.7% IBU (Bitterness Units): 17
Oktoberfest might be over in Germany, but it’s still going strong in the U.S., and I’m still celebrating. While WEIHENSTEPHAN’s Vitus may not be traditional Oktoberfest fare, it’s still a German beer. Better yet, it’s a Bavarian beer, and better better yet, it’s a really tasty, delicious Bavarian beer! I’m sure there are a brave few who would quaff this one as part of an Oktoberfest celebration, but you wouldn’t get past the second liter, I dare say. Vitus is a sweet, hearty, fruity beer recalling more a Belgian ale but still possessing a distinctly German character.
Vitus is a Weizenbock brewed by the world’s oldest brewery*. What’s a Weizenbock, you ask? It’s basically an amped up hefeweizen (wheat beer), hence the bock** in the name. Weizenbocks, like hefeweizens are beers made with malted wheat as the predominant ingredient, but a special yeast is used—giving the beer a crisper, fruity zing, but with a more alcoholic punch.
The color is a hazy yellow, reminiscent of summer straw, and it sports a thick, foamy head. The fruity aromas emanating from that foam are a perfect precursor to the good things ahead. You’ll catch whiffs of the bready malt, sweet fruits, banana and hints of spice. With a full-bodied mouthfeel, the taste is a delicious combination of sweet fruity esters and a yeasty heft. The finish is crisp and dry with lingering malts and fruits that just coat your palate. Vitus, like a good white wine, is complex enough to pair with a fine cheese or German sausage.
While not immediately apparent due to the sparkling crispness, the 7.7% ABV will definitely start to warm your insides. Vitus tastes like it should be enjoyed during the ever cooler days of late-Autumn. When you’ve had your fill of the early-Autumn Oktoberfest lagers, put down that Maß and treat yourself to a smaller glass of Vitus. —J.A.
* According to historical accounts, the brewery was started by Benedictine monks in the year 1040 and has existed in one form or another since then.
** Bock means goat in Bavarian German, but generally refers to the strong, dark lagers brewed for the Spring.