Brauerei Plank – Laaber
Style: German Hefeweizen
One final brew is on the schedule for this month. I’ve covered quite a bit of the story of Bavarian weissbier in my reviews of Unertl and Schneider recently (you can search them above).
Michael Plank has a story on his own. He’s the current owner of his family’s traditional brewery, located in Laaber, just west of Regensburg in central Bavaria. In fact, the current Michael Plank is the 16th(!) first-born male sharing the same moniker. His wife’s name is Michaela and his first born son is, of course, Michael. Currently in his late 30s, Michael took over the brewery at age 21 when his father passed away and he has completely modernized the production facilities. In fact, he’s capable of running the brewhouse operations with his Blackberry. His mother still runs the Gasthof (restaurant) next door.
On my last visit to his brewery, I had to ask, “How does your family keep having first-born boys to ensure the name continues?”
“You must wear your brewer boots,” he replied with a grin. Those of you who may be professional brewers will know what I mean.
Plank is another of the small, family-owned traditional weissbier breweries that has finally made its way to U.S. shores from its small hometown in Bavaria. Rather than advertise, he decided to enter the World Beer Cup, a worldwide brewer competition held every other year in the U.S., with the last in Chicago in 2010. He’s now taken gold medals for his weissbiers at the past four World Beer Cups … and was awarded “Small Brewer of the Year” in 2006.
He also makes a Dunkelweiss, Weisenbock Hell and Weizenbock Dunkel, which are available in the States.
His flagship, however, is the Weissbier—or Hefeweizen on the U.S. label. It pours a little darker than the macro versions that many Americans are used to, as there is a hint of caramalt in the grist bill, but the additional body holds up well during import. The head is soft and fluffy and the taste is balanced, with hints of the traditional spicy banana and clove influence without being overwhelming. The mouthfeel is full, soft and slightly fruity.
This is an outstanding traditional weissbier and blows away anything from the larger players such as Erdinger, Weihenstephan, Hacker-Pschorr and the like.