Winkler Brews Wonders in Amberg, Germany
Winkler (Amberg) Brau Wirt Zoiglbier (aka Winkler Zwickelbier) Abv 5.5
One of the sacrifices we had to make in publishing Drinking In the Culture was that to include over 400 of Europe’s best places to drink, we had to limit how much we said about the actual beers available. The chapter on Amberg is a prime example. We refer to the great small breweries of the town and mention some of the beers, but say very little about them.
Our beer of the day, therefore, is one of those small town gems. Winkler’s Zoiglbier. We think they are now selling it as Zwickelbier, but we’re pretty sure it’s the same thing we first encountered in 2009. A Zoigl or Zwickelbier is a traditional unfiltered style. Such beers edged toward extinction as 20th century tastes grew blander and clearer. Some small towns kept the tradition alive, however, sometimes brewing only a few times a year and serving them in pubs that were pretty close to private homes. We think the growing popularity of hefeweizen biers opened the door for a number of other unfiltered styles, Zwikel among them.
Winkler’s version is sweet, as are most of their beers, but a good example of the style. Some brewers around the world have been slow to realize that an unfiltered beer is better than a filtered beer only if the yeast that makes it tastes good — and not all yeasts do. Winkler is blessed with delicious yeast that plays a major part in smoothing and almost balancing the sweetness. Their Zwickel is a tasting and interesting beer with more color than many of the style, It had a chewy malty depth that echoed hints of a good scotch ale.
We haven’t been back to Amberg for a couple of years — reviewing our notes on beers like this reminds us it’s time to return. Tomorrow we’ll feature Winkler’s excellent Hefe Weizen.
Rating: ****+ Value: ***** 20170127
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