To many uninitiated beer drinkers, wheat beers conjure up visions of light, refreshing beers devoid of taste. The tasty Hefeweizen (pronounced “HEF-eh WHY sin”) is a refreshing, complex, and lightly hopped wheat beer full of personality. Born in Bavaria, the Hefeweizen has been around for at least the last four or five centuries. “Hefe” is German for yeast, “Weizen” means wheat, which is an appropriate name for this beer. Hefeweizens are generally at least 50% wheat and are unfiltered, meaning they contain suspended yeast which gives the German Ale its trademark “cloudy” appearance. Appropriately, both the wheat and the yeast strain contribute greatly to the character and flavor of the Hefeweizen.
Today’s contestant is Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis Hefeweizen. Highly carbonated, this cloudy, golden lemony-yellow Bavarian ale pours smoothly into the glass revealing an inviting, dense, white head of foam. It looks impressive. The smell of banana, along with a hint of spice and sour lemony aroma greet the nose, it smells like a Hefeweizen should. The first taste is of banana with a hint of lemon and spicy clove –all typical flavors of the style and compliments of the Hefeweizen yeast. Spice flavors along with a slight bitter tartness hit mid sip and follow with a delicious wheat and clove finish.
The thought of Sierra Nevada brewing up an authentic Hefeweizen is met with skepticism and slight snickering amongst many beer geeks. Sierra Nevada brews some fantastic hoppy American Pale Ales and IPAs, particularly their award winning Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but they’re just not known for their wheat or German offerings. But the Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen really impresses. It’s an authentic, well balanced, complex, and refreshing Hefe. It’s everything a Hefeweizen should be. It does well on its own, especially on a hot summer day relaxing on the patio, and pairs nicely with salads and seafood.
Who’ll Like This Beer: Fans of Hefeweizens will really enjoy this one. Aspiring beer enthusiasts who enjoy Summer Ales or Belgian Wits like Blue Moon or Shock Top should try this one.
Little Known Fact: Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis Hefeweizen utilizes open fermentation which is the traditional method in Bavaria.
The Verdict: While not quite up to par with the very top German Hefes, Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis Hefeweizen isn’t far behind. It’s refreshing, complex, and surprisingly delicious!
Rating: 8/10 Mugs