Six String Hefeweizen

Total Score: 5.25/10 Caramel1Barley1Bananas1Weizenglass1

Hefeweizens seem to be a difficult style for Aussie brewers to replicate and these days more and more I suspect it all comes down to yeast – here’s a good example: Weihenstephan, arguably the greatest Weizen brewery in the world, also have the largest collection of yeast in the world – a giant yeast library. They aren’t collecting it to test out athletes foot cream now are they? The difficulty of obtaining decent yeast to use in brewing of yeast-driven styles such as Weizens, Quadrupels and Saisons results in most Aussie yeast-driven brews having what I call a “homebrew” flavour… why do I call it that? Because the yeast in them tastes similar to the yeast in my own previous homebrew [disasters!]. Hopefully Six String have perfected this.

Poured from a 375ml can into a Weizen glass.

A: Hmmm, missing the “hefe” part of Hefeweizen (i.e. yeast haze) with a clear golden body and white head that went from 1 inch to fizzle out completely… this is probably one of the weakest Weizens I’ve seen… no head? That is un-ac-ceptable! *said in a German accent* 4/10.

S: Caramel/banana notes upfront, a bit of diacetyl is perfectly OK for a Weizen… minor notes of lemon and pear round out the aroma which is missing, again, some spiciness (or clove) character which yeast would bring to the table. 6/10.

T: Yep, homebrew flavour, dammit! That fusel alcohol note in the fore. Was looking forward to a good Weizen too. Grainy notes accompany the above noted flavours, more caramel/butterscotch than banana driven. This is not good Weizen flavour territory to be in IMO. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a lively carbonation that is reasonably dense (though nowhere near what a German Braumeister would find acceptable). 6/10.

D: If my disappoint is palpable it is because of the umpteen number of Australian Hefeweizens I’ve tried that don’t even come close to what German brewers can craft. It’s either through laziness or lack of knowledge that so many Aussie brewers fail to reproduce a decent Weizen, and depending on who it is it may be one or both (Matilda Bay Redback springs to mind, as do many other brewers). I might have to just give up or avoid buying another Australian Weizen, unless someone can convince me that they’ve found anything close to decent, from here on out. Sad because I love a good Weizen, but the Germans they have a lock on that style AFAIC. 5/10.

Food match: It wouldn’t be justice to serve it with German fare, just BBQ it.

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Maisel’s Weisse Original

Total Score: 8.8/10 Pear1Bananas1Clove1Weizenglass1

What’s this?!? A Weizen I haven’t reviewed yet! How can this be possible!?! Etc, etc… So yeah, without acknowledging the fact that there are probably thousands of different Hefeweizens from Germany alone that I haven’t reviewed, it still comes as somewhat of a shock when I come across a new Weizen I’ve yet to quench my thirst with given my passion for the style. So what we know about Maisel’s Weisse? Apparently someone named Maisel liked Hefeweizens and they started a brewery in Bavaria and brewed Weizens… that’s about it really. Can it beat my all-time favourite Hefeweizen: Weihenstephaner? Only time will tell, mere minutes in fact.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Weizen glass.

A: Cloudy amber/orange (could easily be mistaken for a glass of fresh orange juice if not for the head and carbonation) body with a cream-coloured fluffy 2 centimetre head that stands up OK, could be denser IMO. 7/10.

S: Really top-notch Hefeweizen aroma of ripe banana with prominent overripened pear and a light hint of clove spice… possibly the most pear ester driven Weizen I’ve ever laid my nose on – this would suggest a fairly sweet Weizen, but then again my nose has be fooled on many an occasion. 9/10.

T: Starts with pear, middle pear, and finishes with pear… oh and there’s ripe banana with a hint of clove and a dash of caramel sweetness too. Finish is slightly on the dry side which definitely adds to drinkability in this style. Quite surprised by how well balanced this one is actually, given how I’ve never seen it before now. Hints of herbal astringency come out as well when the glass drains down a little. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied, as all great Hefes should be, with soft water and good texture from medium/creamy carbonation – this is up there with the best mouthfeel I’ve experienced in any Weizen, or ANY beer FTM (For That Matter)! 10/10.

D: This is one top-notch Weizen that deserves to be in my personal German Hefe pantheon along with the likes of: Weihenstephaner, Franziskaner, Schneider Weisse and König Ludwig. The only thing where Weihenstephaner consistently defeats this (and many of the other Hefeweizens in the pantheon) is on price; at around $8 a bottle it’s hard not to choose Weihenstephan’s $6 a bottle pricing, other than that I say “A Maisel a day keeps the blues away (and your Gastroenterologist happy when your liver eventually fails)”, prost! 8/10.

Food match: This is a somewhat more versatile Hefe than most and would easily match anything from German cuisine/BBQ to pizza/salad.

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Cavalier Weizen

Total Score: 6.3/10 Clove1Lemon1Bread1Weizenglass1

This one caught my eye o’er my local Black Sheep Bottle Shop with its bright yellow label and the crossed swords with knights helmet standard of Cavalier – that’s a standard that I guess, well, stands for something. Of course a Weizen with a bright yellow label is going to conjure up flavours of banana, however we mustn’t be too hasty with assumptions – they can lead to ourselves making asses out of you and me. In any case this Weizen is based on the very first beer they submitted to competition and won them accolades so it should be a damn fine drop… as good as what German brewers produce? Perhaps not, but it certainly has the chance to be up there.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Weizen glass.

A: Cloudy, as a good hefe should be, with a… dare I say it: Pale banana yellow body and 1 centimetre chalk white head on top. Lots of carbonation action in the glass – looks like a real tasty Weizen aiight. 8/10.

S: Quite a big hit of clove on the nose, along with dusty/musty bread yeast. Not much in the way of banana, but you can guess it’s there somewhere in the background… hiding from me… damn delicious bastard it is. Hint of sugar comes through all granular-like… sort of a schnapps vibe I’m getting there. As far as the nose goes it’s too dirty to be German but rustic enough to be Belgian. 7/10.

T: Really hits hard with those clove/dusty/musty characters, to its detriment IMO. Following on from that there’s some lemon, then a hint of banana (but not enough), some schnapps spirit comes through towards the finish which is admirably dry and peppery. Overall it’s one of the oddest Hefeweizens I’ve encountered and TBH it makes me long for a glass of Weihenstephaner instead. Whereas Weihenstephan is clinical in its flavour profile this is all over the shop. 6/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a slight creamy texture that is blighted by a little too much carbonation. 6/10.

D: Another “hit n’ miss” Aussie Weizen to add to the pile. I guess I hold my Weizens to a high standard with brewers such as Weihenstephaner and Schneider Weisse, and of course they’ve got a good half a millennium jump on us antipodeans, however if you don’t try to follow what the great brewers have done how will you ever achieve greatness yourself? Feel free to answer that question while I tuck into a nice Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen, prost! 6/10.

Food match: Pub food, hamburgers and beer-battered chips with aioli – you get the picture.

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Benediktiner Weissbier

Total Score: 8/10 Bananas1 Bread1 Clove1 Weizenglass1

So the bottleshop, aka Plonk, was out of Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen – I wouldn’t have a bar of The Höff (i.e. Schöfferhofer), Franziskaner or King Ludwig, I wanted the Big W. Then co-owner Liz mentioned Benediktiner being comparable to Big W, I hadn’t tried it yet… and here we are herren und damen: My review of Benediktiner Weissbier. Needless to say it has an uphill battle to be considered comparable to Weihenstephan’s greatest, but let’s give it a shot hey?

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Weizen glass.

A: Das ist nicht naturtrüb!* [said in my angriest German accent – you don’t want to hear how angry it is – it makes Adolf sound like a kitten] A barely hazed amber/orange body with a dense cream-coloured 3cm head which soon settles to half a centimetre. Weihenstephaner wins round one. 6/10.

S: Ripe banana, slightly sour/bready yeast and a hint of clove Phenol in the finish – A Weizen class act all the way… I think this is a tie – Big W got a slam dunk 10/10 for aroma too. 10/10.

T: All the elements are there: Ripe banana, bread yeast, hint of clove and pepper, with a slight (and entirely acceptable given the style) buttery Diacetyl. Finish is reasonably drier than other Weizens. The only thing this is lacking over the mighty Weihenstephan is a touch of flavour intensity – this one is, by comparison to Big W, a more muted profile. It’s still pretty tasty though! 8/10.

M: Mouthfeel feels a bit thin compared to other Weizens though with a mid to light body but creamy dense carbonation – it could be better here. 7/10.

D: Not bad at all, it’s no Weihenstephaner (which I can recall by rote now after all the cases I’ve had of it) but it is a half-decent Weizen to knock back when the bottleshop is out of Big W. One particular complaint I had was how boring it became as I got towards the end of the glass. I mean it’s not offensively bland but it certainly, as I mentioned above, use a bit more of a flavour kick… so the mighty Groß W still stands as my Hefeweizen König. 7/10.

Food match: I’m going to play it safe and say: Weißwurst mit senf und laugenbrot.

*Naturtrüb is the German term for cloudy yeast in the glass.

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Schneider Weisse Tap 7 Unser Original

Total Score: 8.15/10 Caramel1 Bananas1 Peppercorns1 Weizenglass1

Finally – four years after promising to review Weihenstephaner’s nearest rival in the high stakes game that is ‘number one Weissbier in the world’ I got my hands on another bottle of Schneider Weisse Tap 7 Unser Original. Shame on Schneider Weisse for having such crap distribution in Australia whilst its most average of competitors [I’m looking at you Erdinger!] can be found in most liquor chains. Anyway it is done – I found a bottle of Tap 7 and Plonk and I am going to review the shit out of it!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Stiegl Weizen glass.

A: Darker than most Hefeweizens with a hazy caramel brown body and a decent 1 inch cream coloured head that all too soon reduces to 1 cm with a sea foam consistency. I think Weihenstephaner is the winner here. 7/10.

S: Caramelised banana upfront and prominent with dry cracker and hints of pepper in the background. Touches of pear ester and a nutty character make themselves present upon a further whiff and really up the complexity ante against Weihenstephan, sehr schön! 10/10.

T: Distinctly dry on the palate, even for a Weizen, with the flavour taking a step back from the aroma promise but nonetheless providing the above anticipated notes: Caramel, banana, dry cracker, pepper, pear and pecan nut. The banana is less noticeable and takes a bit of a backseat to the caramel flavour, for better or worse. 8/10.

M: Here’s the most disappointing aspect of Tap 7 – medium bodied, but a tad watery, with a flatter carbonation than most Weizens – maybe I had a bad bottle, but this is an unacceptable texture for a Weizen. 6/10.

D: Memory has not been kind to Tap 7 for me. I recall it being perhaps a step above Weihenstephaner, however my mind has been playing tricks, or this is a bad bottle, either way the winner in my four year battle of Hefe-titans is Weihenstephaner (which I drink quite regularly now @ around $50 for a case of 12 it is hard to beat). Positives? We can finally lay to rest the promise I made to review Tap 7*… actually this is still a damn fine Weizen, just not the best. 8/10.

Food match: Roasted chicken breast with pancetta, leeks & thyme.

*I went back and had a look at my Weihenstephaner review and I actually promised to review the Tap 6 not the Tap 7, which is a Weizenbock not a Hefeweizen… :$

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Arcobräu Hefe-Weisse

Total Score: 7.95/10 Butter1 Caramel1 Bananas1 Weizenglass1

This one came as a bit of a surprise to me last night when I was out on the town. First thing that struck me with the night club I was out at was that aside from the typical selection of average Lagers: Corona, Peroni and Oettinger Pils there were 4 Arcobräu brews on offer. What is Arcobräu? I had never heard of this brewery, but so impressed [spoiler alert] with this Hefeweizen I will no doubt be getting Plonk to track down more so I can pay a reasonable (i.e. non-night club) price for it… Prost!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into an Arcobräu Weizen glass.

A: Hazy golden body with a classic Weizen 1 inch white head that sticks around like a champ. I recall noting to my friends that the head, from the bartenders pour, was missing the head marker – anecdotal evidence has told me that in Germany the bar has to tip it down the drain or give it to you for free if this happens… I do miss Germany. 7/10.

S: Distinct buttery character with caramel notes and a hint of banana, but no clove notes, an intriguing aroma for an experienced Weizen drinker. The slant of the aroma towards malt and Diacetyl, plus the more golden than usual colour had already set me up for something unique. 7/10.

T: Diacetyl is prominent, however it isn’t the malevolent drain pour that I ended up with in my homebrew “Accidental Weizen” and within the bounds of acceptability for BJCP’s guidelines on Hefeweizens. That buttery, almost toffee note, melds into roasted caramel with a hint of banana. The finish is, as typical of a Weizen, clean of bitterness and slightly dry. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a fairly creamy (though it could be a little creamier) carbonation. 8/10.

D: Again I was startled when I tried this Weizen – it’s got something unique with its lack of clove and prominent caramel/butter notes driving the experience. Which is unexpected given how bad my own “Accidental Weizen” went with so much Diacetyl that it began to take on a menthol character. Arcobräu have produced a Hefeweizen that, whilst not a challenger for the Weihenstephaner crown, is indeed an interesting enough take on the style. 9/10.

Food match: Can’t go wrong with Schweinshaxe mit bratkartoffeln und sauerkraut.

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Moon Dog Bjorn To Boogie Watermelon Weizen

Total Score: 8/10 Watermelon1 GreenMelon1 Coriander1 Weizenglass1

Two of my all-time favourite things: Watermelon and Weizen, combined into one (hopefully!) magnificent beer. As you may or may not recall I was slightly disappointed by Feral’s Watermelon Warhead, given the hype that proceeded it, so I’m not going to raise my expectations for this brew, it will be a totally unhyped tasting for me. Although a part of me still expects some Moon Dog insanity to reach my palate in classic Moon Dog fashion.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Weizen glass.

A: Cloudy pale rockmelon (cantaloupe if you’re American) body with a white head that immediately departed completely, not even a trace of the old lace. 3/10.

S: Sweet watermelon with a hint of rockmelon and hint of coriander lingers in the background. There is a grainy character in the nose as well, unexpected but OK nonetheless. 7/10.

T: Interesting, overall flavour is a melon extravaganza (watermelon, rockmelon and honeydew melon) with some grainy sweetness in the middle and hints of coriander spice in the mildly bitter but acidic finish. Some slight vinous white wine characters come out after a few sips. A real palate cleansing and enjoyable Weizen (that is more like a Witbier). 9/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a medium, almost high carbonation. 6/10.

D: Overall I really liked Bjorn to Boogie, it’s pretty far removed from the Weizen style, however this is what made it so interesting and had me coming back for another sip. I think I’ll take a 4-pack of this down the coast for Christmas and try it out in the hot Australian summer. Is it the ultimate watermelon beer? I don’t think it is, although I would say it is better than Watermelon Warhead for me (I liked the more intense melon notes in this brew), but I think there must be someone out there that can accurately distil the essence of watermelon into a truly great beer [maybe I will when I get a bit more homebrew experience under my belt 😉 ]. 9/10.

Food match: I would definitely pair the melon flavours of this brew to Asian cuisine, specifically Vietnamese (Gỏi đậu hủ – a tofu/mint/bean shoot salad) or Japanese (Chirashizushi – a chefs selection of raw ingredients on a bed of sushi rice).

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