Friday, November 19, 2010

Schneider Weisse vs Jenlain... The Battle of the Crafts

It's great that India is finally embracing the beer culture and opening their minds to international beer. I happened to call for a Schneider-Weisse and a Jenlain at Wasabi on a dinner date with my girlfriend recently. What followed was a curious battle of the crafts in my head that I'm still not able to resolve.

To the uninitiated, craft beer is an off-shoot of the micro-brewery concept where beers are produced more for the taste than mass appeal. Needless to say they are pricey as the demand far exceeds the supply. Traditional methods are employed to produce these beers and they have to be imported from their place of origin as opposed to locally brewed foreign beer.

So in the red corner we have the German, Schneider-Weisse. Made from wheat by German Monks and with an ABV (alcohol by volume) ranging from 5.4% in the original bottle to a whopping 8.2% in the strong dark Aventinus bottle. The one I had was the original; the taste is creamy and its got a splendid nose. It's all in all well-balanced and goes well with meat. It stands pretty in a glass with it's impressive head and amber colour.

In the Blue corner we have the French, Jenlain. Named after a commune in the Nord Department in the North of France, this amber colored craft has a very curious after-taste. It almost leaves a sweet tinge on the palette. Jenlain is produced in a closed-knit family in limited quantities. The Jenlain Ambrée has a 7.5% ABV. Though I have only found pints in India, the big bottles apparently have corks in stead of crowns, I like the respect. Jenlain is made from barley and hops unlike its German nemesis. The beer has a toned-down nose and good head. But I'm not able to decide whether or not I like the sweet after-taste. I guess that depends on the accompanying food. Also its proximity to Belgium makes it taste a bit like Leffe.

So take your pick, both beers are available at Nature's Basket stores across Mumbai and in select 5 Stars. The damage at MRP is about Rs 200 for the German and Rs 280 for the French (300ml) at the Wasabi (Taj Palace) it cost us Rs 500 each.

Ratings (subject to change at any time without prior intimation)
Schneider-Weisse : 7.5/10
Jenlain : 7/10

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