The Quiet Reliability of Ayinger

I have been working on lagers for the past six weeks, slowly making my way through pale, amber, dark lagers and this week, bocks.  A feature of the book I'm working on is called "the beers to know," which includes a selection that typify the type I've just been writing about.  Every time I get to that section, I buy a bunch of European lagers, look through my travel notes, and study ratings sites like BeerAdvocate to see which small breweries around the country I should be looking at.  And every time, Ayinger is there at the top.  Their beers are among my faves, and they're beloved by the people, too.  For a number of reasons, I don't put a lot of stock in the ratings sites, but have a look at how well Ayinger does; below is a list of the various styles and where Ayinger ranks among all beers of that style brewed in the world.  First is BeerAdvocate, second RateBeer.
Hefeweizen: 6, 8
Dunkel lager: 3, 3
Doppelbock: 1, 1
Export: 2, 16
Maibock: 13, 1
Marzen: 8, 1
Dunkelweizen: 3, 4
Weizenbock, 5, 12
When you click through these styles, you see a lot of familiar names near the top--Augustiner, Andechs, Weihenstephan, Schneider.  But Schneider doesn't brew lagers, and most of the Bavarian lager breweries don't brew any wheats beyond a single weizen.  Ayinger, with all-Bavarian ingredients, open wheatbier fermentation, and a modern eco-brewery, plays both fields.  I don't often hear them discussed in the hushed tones reserved for Augustiner and Schneider--who certainly earn their respect.  Leave aside the ratings, which are obviously problematic, and go with what your senses tell you.  I think you'll conclude that Ayinger is surely one of the best Bavarian breweries. 
Jeff Alworth1 Comment