Hefeweizen, literally translated, means “yeast wheat.” Brewed with malted wheat in place of malted barley, and top-fermented with specialized strains of yeast, this refreshing beer boasts a malty sweet flavor with virtually no bitterness. Delightful hints of banana and clove are common throughout the style. The unfiltered wheat gives this beer its signature cloudy, light gold hue.
With a refreshing, malty flavor and the presence of bitter hops practically non-existent, it’s really no wonder Hefeweizen is my beer of choice. I had a difficult time narrowing down my selections this week, so today I’m bringing you four of my favorites!
Let’s begin with one of the oldest and most popular hefeweizens in the world — Hofbräuhaus Hefe Weizen. First brewed in Bavaria in 1602, this hefeweizen was the only one produced in the world for nearly two-hundred years! It therefore defines hefeweizen as we know it today: smooth and refreshing with strong hints of banana and clove (and a smidge of citrus). It’s a solid choice and a good option for someone first delving into the realm of hefeweizen.
Another popular German hefeweizen, Franziskaner also happens to be my personal favorite. I first discovered it at Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake, where I ordered it religiously until they recently (tragically) removed it from their tap. It pours a beautiful copper golden color with an aroma of banana and citrus. The banana and citrus are also present in the taste, coupled with vanilla and a hint of clove. Smooth and creamy, with a high level of carbonation, this beer is practically perfect.
It’s no surprise that Germans know how to brew a decent hefeweizen, but what about back here in the states? Are we able to compete? Judging by this brew from local So Cal brewery Golden Road, I’d say yes. Banana and clove are present in the scent, but not as strong in the flavor, which is overtaken by tangy citrus. A hint of bitterness is present — stronger than in its German counterparts, but not so strong as to overwhelm. The body is light and refreshing. Not exactly like a German hefeweizen, but a tasty Americanized version well worth trying. I’ve tried many of Golden Road’s beers, and I prefer this one by far.
Our last selection is a variation on the traditional hefeweizen: the dark hefeweizen. I’m a big fan of Weihenstephaner’s traditional hefeweizen, so I thought it might be fun to give their dark variation a try. This was an excellent decision.
Overall, the taste combines the rich, creamy texture of dark beer with the sweet, malty flavor of hefeweizen. The color is hazy brown, with a thick, creamy head. Subdued hints of banana and clove are present, as well as a light caramel flavor. Because of the creamier texture, I kept expecting a hint of bitterness, but it never appeared. I was pleasantly surprised by this beer and will definitely be trying it again!
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