Founded in the year 1040, Weihenstephaner is recognized as the world’s oldest still-operating brewery, though some fires and a couple of wars may have interrupted brewing over the years. It started at the Weihenstephan Monastery in Freising, Germany and operated under control of the monks until the 1800s, when the abbey was disbanded and secularized by the Bavarian state, which continues to own and operate the brewery to this day—each bottle of Weihenstephan carries the Bavarian state seal on its label.
Sierra Nevada Brewing occupies its own space in brewing history. Located nearly 6,000 miles away from Freising in Chico, California, Ken Grossman and Paul Carmusi opened their brewery in 1980, birthing its ubiquitous Pale Ale, holiday classic Celebration Ale and Bigfoot barleywine. The Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, like Weihenstephaner’s Hefe Weiss, is regarded as a defining beer of the styles.
Given their respective pedigrees, it’s not shocking to see Weihenstephan and Sierra Nevada collaborate on a beer. The surprise was that the beer would be brewed in Freising, marking Weihenstephaner’s first-ever collaboration at its own brewery.
Collaborations often miss with attempts to offer a modern take on a classic beer. This is not one of those collaborations.”
The result is Braupakt, a hefeweizen with a name that has dual meanings. The word translates to “brewery pact,” commemorating the historic partnership. It also plays on the idea of a “bro pact,” though the idea of two world-class breweries referring to themselves as “bros” flares my gag reflex. They are better than that and and so is this beer.
Recipe development began in 2017, about a year before the official April 2018 release. The flavor profile is built upon American Amarillo and Chinook as well as German Hallertauer Tradition hops. The result in an intense hefeweizen, much in the same way Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale created a robust pale ale departure from those that came before it.
Hefeweizens bursts with esters of banana, flavors of clove bubble gum in its aroma and in the front of the beer. Drink it slowly and, as it rolls over the tongue, pick up bitter orange and grapefruit notes from the hops. It finishes dry with a bitter citrus flavor. Its hazy and golden-orange with a sticky head that leaves bubbles along the edges of the glasses as you drink. The feel is soft and fluffy, which counters the medium body and weight of the beer.
Collaborations often miss with attempts to offer a modern take on a classic beer. This is not one of those collaborations. It’s an easy-drinking summertime beer worthy of a return in future years.