I've always enjoyed wheat beers so
when I heard that Greg Zaccardi, of High Point Brewing
Comapany, Butler, N.J., was going to be the guest
speaker at the monthly meeting of my local beer club (The
Draught Board 15) I arrived, early, thirsty, and excited.  
And who wouldn't be considering that High Point Brewing
was the first all-wheat brewery in the United States!

The meeting, held at the Gaslight Pub, South Orange NJ, was a
winner as  Greg's presentation was one of the most informative
and well done of any speaker the club has featured thus far. His
talk was concise, well-timed, and obviously well prepared.   He
punctuated his talk with ample supplies of four  beers varieties
while a fifth was supplied by our host, Dan Soboti, from the tap
downstairs.                                                                        
Greg began by explaining that he wanted to locate his
brewery in  High Point, NJ, but  found that it was
impossible to do that since it had no suitable building.  He
then  looked at a neighboring town, Butler, and found his
ideal structure.  So Butler became home to the business
but not its name, as Greg stuck with High Point.

While his market research told him wheat beers would be
a solid niche for his upstart business he still needed a
name for his beers.  Greg went on to say that he
remembered Ramstein Air Force Base, in Ramstein,
Germany, as the place with the the largest concentration
of Americans in Europe.   He realized  that calling his beer
Ramstein would "tie in" the mystique ofGerman wheat
beers to the growing American market.  To further cement
the German connection he ordered that his company
adhere strictly to Reinheitsgebot, the centuries old
German law mandating only the four basic ingredients in
German beers: malt, water, hops, and
yeast.                                                    
The first offering of High Point Brewing was a Munich
Amber which, contrary to his other brews, uses no wheat
malt. It's caramel notes  of this Marzen style beer come
from the use of munich malt. This beer is aged for six
weeks instead of the usual three for his wheat beers.   It
is currently available only on draught, however a bottling
is planned in late summer to be ready for Octoberfest.
This is a delicious, clean tasting brew which could easily
be served by the pitcher or in liter steins under the trees
or in a beer tent, making it perfect for
Octoberfest.                                 
Next we had Ramstein Blonde Weiss, the brewery's
flagship brand and the first Greg ever commercially
brewed. It's available on tap and in bottles and uses 50%
each of wheat and barley malt, and Perle Tettnang and
Hallertau hops. Greg explained that it's notes of clove,
apple and banana are the result of the ale yeast that's
used and not because of the wheat malt which serves to
give it it's crisp finish. This beer is usually on tap at the
many bars in the Northeast and on a hot summer evening
there is no tastier thirst quencher.  It's easily the equal of
Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr , and the other great German
hefeweizens.  In my opinion there's no other American
wheat beer that comes  close.    

Ramstein Classic Wheat was third on our hit parade. It's
also available both bottled and on tap and uses the same
yeast as the blonde. The darker color comes from the use
of chocolate malt .     

Our gracious host , Mr. Soboti, supplied pitchers of the
next selection, the 9% ABV Ramstein Winter Wheat
Doppelbock. This is a seasonal offering, which is
fermented for six to eight weeks.  Greg explained that
after receiving many requests for a "Christmas" beer he
and brewer Jeff Levine put their heads together and came
up with what they intended to be a cross between
Schneider Aventinus and Paulaner Salvator.  The result
they simply called Winter Wheat.  This beer has rich
chocolate undertones while retaining some wheat
character. It's perfect for a cold winter night.      

The last tasting of the afternoon was Ramstein Eisbock,
which is made by freezing the winter wheat and  
extracting the rough edges that ticle the palate for some
but are harsh for others.  The result is a very smooth
liquid that has a potency which will definitely sneak up on
you.  Beware of this brew since there is very little hint of
it's 11% alcohol content. This beer is not available for sale
either bottled or draught but was a special treat for the
beer club.  

When questioned about his former staple,Ramstein
Kristall Wheat, Greg informed us that it no longer brewed
because of lack of demand.   To me, Kristall was a "Coor's
Light" type product that never quite fit into the High Point  
portfolio of uniformly outstanding beers.   

Usually the end of a Draught Board 15 meeting is no end
at all, for the membership just moves downstairs to
continue discussing our passion, the malt beverage.  This
meeting ,however, ended on a an even higher note since
member Charlie Cuozzo (the 50-50 prize winner) decided
to exhibit his gatitude and benevolence by supplying
pitchers of the wonderful house brews and Ramstein
Winter Wheat, to all club members present.  

More beer is always the perfect ending to any meeting,
especially a great one like this!
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