Literally meaning “yeast wheat beer”, Hefeweizens are some of oldest and most traditional beers in the world. Here in the states it seems that every summer you can find a locally brewed hefe on tap. Sadly those beers are but a shadow of the great german wheat beers. Today we will take a look at a beer brewed by the Weihenstephaner brewery in Bavaria, who claim to be the oldest brewery in the world.
Although their origins can be traced back to the year 725 AD, when a group of Irish Benedictine monks founded a monastery on Nährberg Hill, Freising, it wasn’t until 1040 AD, that the town of Freising was granted the rights to brew. It is from this permission to brew that the brewery bases its claim as the oldest brewery in the world. The monastery was closed in 1815 and brewing operations were taken over by the Bavarian royal family, who ran the brewery until the end of the WWI, when the brewery passed to the state government. It is now officially known as the “Bayersiche Staatsbraurerei” or the Bavarian State Brewery. Although there are twelve beers currently being brewed at Weihenstephaner, The Hefeweissbier is the most widely available, and one of the best examples of a hefe in the world.
As you pour the hefeweissbier in to a glass, the first thing you notice is the massive carbonation level and huge long lasting head that follows. I mean this beer is almost champagne like in its effervescence. The head seems to grow for at least a minute after it has been poured, and the bubbles are so fine that it almost seems like the beer is on nitro. The aromas of this beer are just as you would expect, yeasty bread armoas, with hints of clove hiding behind the lemon, orange-peel and banana esters. Very minimal hop aromas, but they are there. Flavors are rich with honey, vanilla and some clove phenols balanced by the yeast and banana. Hop bitterness is just enough to balance out the sweetness and give an extra layer of depth. Some slight pepperiness on the aftertaste.
This is probably the most complex wheat beer I have ever tasted. The mouthfeel is much fuller than most wheat beers as well. If you can find this beer, it is a must try! Much more complex than any of the american wheat beers, this will help educate on how a hefeweizen should taste. Highly Recommended. Cheers!