Wine for aristocrats, prelates and officers; rum for pirates and seamen; beer for foot soldiers and workmen… This ultra-traditionalist perception, bordering on the feudal and held to be true for centuries, seems to suggest that the taste, status and quality of a certain drink are somehow pre-ordained. This myth is debunked, curiously, not by any radicals or revolutionaries, but by His Royal Highness Prince Leopold of Bavaria, who recently visited Macau.
For the full story, see “Prince Leopold in an exclusive interview | Royal Bavarian beer to step into Macau market” by Brook Yang, published on 20 January 2015.
Prince Leopold of Bavaria – or Leopold Rupprecht Ludwig Ferdinand Adalbert Friedrich Maria et omnes sancti Prinz von Bayern in full – is a prominent member of the House of Wittelsbach, one of the most illustrious royal houses of Europe, which has produced various Holy Roman Emperors, Kings of Bavaria, Kings of Denmark, Kings of Sweden, Kings of Norway and Kings of Greece…
It was his great-great-uncle, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who commissioned the construction of the fantastical Neuschwanstein Castle, the source of inspiration for the rather less cultured Walt Disney Company. This is also the king who built the Bayreuth Festspielhaus for Richard Wagner, whose operas he deeply loved. The king died under mysterious circumstances in 1886, giving rise to multiple conspiracy theories. The Guglmänner, diehard Ludwig II loyalists, were – and still are – convinced that the kind was assassinated at Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s behest.
A former champion race car driver, Prince Leopold of Bavaria is an aristocrat with an entrepreneurial spirit. Neuschwansteiner, the truly sublime beer he brought to this part of the world, is named after the eponymous castle and a tribute to his ancestors. If German beer needed a showcase piece, it would be Neuschwansteiner. This beer is no less than Bavarian and German history in a bottle, best enjoyed alongside a Richard Wagner opera.
An Edelmärzen (literally “noble March beer” is a speciality beer originated from Bavaria traditionally brewed only in March) strictly adhering to the Reinheitsgebot (literally “purity law”) dating back to 1487. The beer uses only 3 ingredients: water, barley and hops. The water comes from the Vilsalpsee, a mountain lake near the Neuschwanstein Castle. Having been filtered through porous strata in the Lechtaler Alps, the water was again filtered – this time through amber gemstones – to enhance purity and then energised. The barley and hops, meanwhile, were ecologically grown.
As part of the ageing process, Neuschwansteiner underwent gentle freezing: as water turned into ice, water content was removed, and the alcohol content reached 6%. Subsequent to a special refinement process, known as the Méthode Royale, the beer was finally bottled in a classy glass container.
Luminous mahogany with radiant tangelo reflex, the nose is invigorating, elegant and complex, offering whitecurrant and dried apricot for fruits, interlaced with barley field and spring flower. Possessing caressingly suave mousse, the palate is subtle, layered and exquisite, delivering persimmon for fruits, interwoven with fine malt, dried herbs and fresh mushroom. Medium-full bodied at 6%, the delicate entry persists through a sophisticated mid-palate, leading to a refined finish. Re-defining the beer experience, Neuschwansteiner is no doubt one of the finest beers in the world, which deserves to be served and savoured like a Champagne at 8ºC, whether in white wine glasses or Champagne flutes. Jacky I.F. Cheong
Neuschwansteiner is available exclusively at The Venetian Macao’s Paiza Dinning, Bellini Lounge and Portofino.
Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain, France, and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages