Liz and I are in the middle of 12 week Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) review class. This has been the best learning experience I've had in the world of beer. We've had the opportunity to try dozens of beers in many different style categories that we've never had and maybe never would have had. I tried my first true Weizen (Weinhenstephaner Hefeweissbier) and Weizenbock (Schneider Aventinus) this last week that were truly incredible! (these are pronounced with a "V" - ie Vy-zen).
The class brings in experts from both the homebrewing and professional brewing world. We've had several award winning homebrewers present topics and this last week we had the owner (Jim Crute) of Lighting Brewery in Poway stop in and contribute to the class. I finally feel like I really understand decoction mashing after Jim's thorough explanation of it. I never quite understood decoction, since the grains are boiled, which I assumed would extract massive amounts of tannins. He explained that is essentially an old-wive's tale (old brewer's tale?) and tannin extraction from grain husks only occurs when the pH becomes basic (over 7.0), which mashes are not.
What was really interesting was comparing our tasting experience with the Schneider Aventinus two days prior to the review class where we tasted it again. The first beer we had in our own taste test was absolutely incredible, creamy, caramelly, clove, a bit of bubblegum. The second beer that we tried during the review class was damaged in some way. It was tart and slightly sour - almost like a very light Flanders Red - clearly something wrong with it. I was glad to have tried the same beer two days before so I knew what it was supposed to taste like, otherwise I would've thought that a classic Weizenbock tasted like a Flanders Red!