Hefeweizens produce an interesting reaction from beer people. Some people really like them, while others range from indifferent to not liking them at all. I think a lot of this has to do with the specific strain of yeast that produces the traditional Hefeweizen aromas and flavors. It is a very phenolic strain that really needs temperature control. Without accurate temperature control and we’re talking 5-8oF, the phenolic esters produced can vary wildly. Some people don’t like the banana esters, some people don’t like the bubble gum esters (myself included), while others love them.
I first really came to love Hefeweizens when I was in Germany for an internship. Up to that time I really didn’t like beer at all, but Hefeweizens were the first beer that I actually came to enjoy drinking, so for me they will always hold a place in my beer line up. I created my recipe to mimic the characteristics of commercial examples that I prefer: Live Oak, Weihenstephan, and Augustiner. They tend to be more on the side of balanced and restrained phenols. I also forgo a traditional decoction, because I’m lazy, and substitute with Melanoidin malt. Some people can say they can tell the difference, but I’m not convinced.
Appearance: If I had enough beer I would have used two bottles to pour into a proper hefeweizen glass to highlight the color, but I gave half to my father since it’s his favorite style and I need some for competition entries. It pours a cloudy orange with yellow highlights and a creamy fluffy head that never fades completely and sticks to the side of the glass. If poured into a proper glass the yellow highlights are visible.
Aroma: Thanks to fermentation control I was able to keep the esters at bay. There is a nice spicy/ clove aroma with bready notes and a touch of banana as it warms up. This is right where I like the aroma. I don’t like banana bombs nor do I like big spice bombs.
Flavor: Spices up front followed by some grainy bready flavor from the melanoidin malt and finished with a hint of banana on the backend. Mixed in with the yeasty characteristics there is a slight acidity. At first I was worried that I lowered my pH too much, but I think it is more of a traditional “wheat-twang” and as soon as the yeast dregs are poured in it is subdued. Again all of the flavors are restrained without any one flavor standing out and screaming in your face.
Mouthfeel: Bright carbonation, very prickly with a slightly creamy medium body and a dry finish. I’m very pleased with how easy this beer is to drink. I think the body is right where it should be and the finish is dry enough and carbonated enough to keep you coming back for more.
Overall: I’m not really sure if this beer could have come out any better. I’m looking forward to receiving judge feedback (hopefully not to show I’m completely wrong and don’t know what I’m talking about). Normally I design a beer around what I like to drink and determine what category to enter the beer into. I have this problem with my IPA, it’s probably somewhere in between pale ale and IPA. This beer, however, is brewed to style. I guess I’ll wait and see if impartial judges agree with me or not.