Brauerei Plank – Laaber
Style: Weizen Bock
As I work to get back in the saddle here, I’m covering a bit of beloved ground as I revisit a few of my favorite Vaterland breweries. I’ve covered some of the history and tradition of weissbier in my reviews of Schneider and Unertl, so I’m stepping up a level to dig into a couple weissbocks as we near March, also known as Starkbierzeit in Bavaria.
Michael Plank’s Brauerei Plank-Laaber is a family owned operation in a small town just west of Regensburg, Bavaria. As I mentioned in my review of his Weissbier, he’s been recognized every year he’s entered at the biannual World Beer Cup for his products, including three straight gold medals for his Heller Weizenbock…and rightfully so.
This is a pretty unique brew, in that most weizenbocks are dark – or at least brown – with a dose of roasted malt in the grist bill. This, however, is a “hell” or light version brewed using only pale barley and wheat malts. It pours a pale, creamy orange, with a thin head that nonetheless clings throughout the serving. Opening with a full, round mouthfeel, there is tremendous balance between the soft maltiness, light banana esters and the easy hop finish. There’s virtually no burn, despite its relatively hefty 7.8% ABV. In fact, you wouldn’t even suspect this was a bock until it sneaks up on you by your second glass.
Quite simply, the WBC judges have it right…this is one of the finest weizenbocks I’ve ever tasted – and I’ve been fortunate to have sampled more than a few.
EDIT (11.May.12): I’ve included the photo here as since I wrote this review, Plank has won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup again in 2012, announced in San Diego the first week of May. In addition, he won “Small Brewery of the Year” for an unprecedented second time, matching his win in 2006.