Ayinger Weizenbock

I will be the first to admit that beer drinking, even when done in moderation, isn't the healthiest habit to develop. On the other hand, I have yet to meet an ardent hiker who doesn't love a good brew at the end of a long, strenuous trail. So in the name of being a good hiker, let's add beer to the list of relevant topics, shall we?

In the summer of 2012, I went cycling through the Bavarian region of Germany. In an area where beer was nearly as cheap (and sometimes cheaper) than water, I came to appreciate this bready drink. (No, sorry, classifying beer as bread doesn't land it a place in my Nutrition & Wellness section.) Given that it was warm and humid in the area where we rode and we were traveling 40-50 kilometers each day, beer also held some additional appeal in the fact that it was always colder than the water at the little biergarten eateries we ended up at after a day of cycling. (In less touristy areas of Europe, such as where we were, a request for ice water is often met with strange looks; in more touristy areas you might be teased for asking for "American champagne.")

Long story short, I came home with a new-found love for German beer. It remains the case that my favorite local beers are ones that mimic either the German or Belgian style (I'll save the distinctions for another blog post).

Petite Peaker's rule #1 of beer drinking: It should be done in moderation and ideally in conjunction with rigorous exercise completed during the same 24-hour period. Remember that you are consuming a huge amount of carbohydrates, even if beer typically has less sugar than wine, liqueurs, and mixers. Even worse than sugar? Some domestic beers contain high fructose corn syrup, and no one has to tell you about it. (See Food Babe's post on the shocking ingredients in beer.) If you are unable to acquire an ingredients list, you are safest with beer from countries that have strict purity laws (such as Germany).

Petite Peaker's rule #2 of beer drinking: When you follow rule #1, you shouldn't feel the least bit guilty about enjoying a quality beer, especially at the end of a strenuous and satisfying hike.

Speaking of quality beers, the focus of my first beer review is the Ayinger Weizenbock. This is a wheat beer that is both refreshing and hearty, and it should not be mistaken for a hefeweizen, typically much lighter. Bock refers to a strong lager style that originated in Germany and can be applied to a variety of beers (most commonly not wheat).

This beer has strong flavors of banana and clove, and it pours dark for a wheat beer (though it's considered a light-colored bock) with a frothy head. As an unfiltered beer, it coats the tongue nicely and has an appealing mouthfeel. Its tart but yeasty taste means that it compliments meat well.

When I'm in the mood for a fresh-tasting wheat beer after a long hike, the Ayinger Weizenbock is my go-to drink.

BONUS: Mr. Petite Peaker's rules of beer drinking:

1. Drink because it's good, not because you want to get smashed (unless it's vodka).

2. The food, drink, and company should all compliment one another. If one is out of sync, it can ruin the others. (Good friends get good beer, bad friends get the skunk.)

3. Drink outside the glass. Just because you like a beer doesn't mean you only have to drink that one (unless you are a bad friend, in which case you get the skunk, every time).