I feel kind of bad for ripping on Germany last week – saying that Pennsylvania alone brewed better varieties of German Pilsener than their entire country… shame on me. Especially now that their beloved Fußballmannschaft has bowed out of the World Cup. So let’s be good sports and give them another shot, shall we?
Sometimes referred to as hefeweisse, hefeweissbier, or weissbier – whatever you want to call it – the German-born Hefeweizen is the epitome of Summer. It’s the perfect relief to the hot mess we’ve been living in here in the Mid-Atlantic these last two weeks.
By definition, it’s a wheat beer where the yeast remains unfiltered, giving it a cloudy, but bright golden appearance, and plenty of frothy white head. The flavors most people associate with it include cloves, banana, bubble gum and sometimes even band aids – all of which come from chemicals produced by the yeast.
Here’s the official description of the style from the Brewers’ Association:
“The aroma and flavor of a Weissbier with yeast is decidedly fruity and phenolic. The phenolic characteristics are often described as clove- or nutmeg-like and can be smoky or even vanilla-like. Banana-like esters should be present at low to medium-high levels. These beers are made with at least 50 percent malted wheat, and hop rates are quite low. Hop flavor and aroma are absent or present at very low levels. Weissbier is well attenuated and very highly carbonated and a medium to full bodied beer. The color is very pale to pale amber. Because yeast is present, the beer will have yeast flavor and a characteristically fuller mouthfeel and may be appropriately very cloudy. No diacetyl should be perceived.”
Overall, you’ll want to marry the Hefeweizen with lighter foods – even though it has a fairly full bodied character. On the cheese front, you should check out ones in the Edam, Brick, and Feta categories. It’s a great accompaniment to just about any salad (minus a heavy Taco “salad” ), and is the perfect pairing with meaty shellfish, or just about any poultry dish.
If you don’t already have some, get yourself a few Weizen glasses … they’re terrific to look at (with beer, of course), and even better to truly enjoy your Hefeweizen and all other wheat-based beers.
**Douche Bag Alert**
In a new feature this week, we’ll highligh two (.5) things to keep you from becoming part of the doucheoisie at the bar…
1) Do not allow a lemon wedge to be added to your Hefeweizen (not matter how smoking hot your bartender is) … you do not need it, it will ruin the head and the great flavor profile, and it’s rumored to be sacrilegious to those in the German and craft beer communities
2) Do NOT drink your hefeweizen from the bottle. And do yourself a favor by learning the proper pour technique here:
2.5) You WILL be exhibiting douchebaggery, and possible expulsion from a good German beer hall by saying “give me a hefee”. Feel free to use the proper pronunciation “HAY-fuh-veyt-sssenn” (courtesy of our friends at the German Beer Institute) – but if that’s too scary for you, go ahead with the traditional USA version “HEF-a-wise-en”.
What to Buy
There are a plethora of good hefeweizens available at your better bottle shops and distributors right now – and just about all of them originate from Germany. Yes, there are several good “American style” Hefeweizens (officially known as the American Pale Wheat Ale), but these 3 are the real deal Hefeweizens you need to try this week …
– Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, 5.4% ABV (Freising, Germany)
– Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier, 5.5% ABV (Munchen, Germany)
– Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse, 5.5% ABV (Munchen, Germany)
For additional options, check out our Hefeweizen page … and leave a Comment below to let us know what you think about the style!