by Jason Wentzell
As spring rolls on, the hefty hefeweizen is a patio powerhouse. This German (Bavarian) style wheat beer is known by several other aliases including weizen or weissbier — but for this brew, it truly is all in a name — hefe =yeast & weizen =wheat. These two ingredients are essential in giving the hefewiezen it’s familiar and fantastic characteristics.
Hefeweizens are generally brewed using a pale malt consisting of at least 50% wheat (although most of the German style contain 60–70% malted wheat). Wheat malts are higher in protein content than most other brewing grains and as a result, the hefeweizen is an intriguingly hazy brew with a smooth, satisfying and full mouth feel that confidently boasts a hearty and proud head when poured. On a seasonal patio, these brews are luminescent, almost glowing in a pale or golden hue as light bounces playfully off of the solubilized protein and suspended yeast in the glass.
In few other beer styles does the Yeast strain play such a prominent role in producing the characteristic taste and aroma of this wheat beer. German weizenbier yeasts produce complex ester based compounds can often smell sweetly fruity, and banana or bubblegum-like, and phenolic compounds may be reminiscent of cloves or warm spices. This beer style is moderate in alcohol content ranging from around 4–6% ABV and minimally bitter with IBUs ranging from 10–30.
A familiar and classic beer style known the world over, Ontario brewers are developing their own take on this German brew, including Smithhaven’s Silver Medal winning Hefeweizen which was proudly featured in May’s Brewscovery Box. Other great Ontario brewers including (but of course not limited to) Big Rig, Brimstone, Muskoka, Great Lakes, Silversmith and Stack have all creatively experimented brewing in this style.
For a brilliant, deliciously rich and thirst-quenching traditional brew, reach for a Hefeweizen and enjoy the refreshing and rewarding experience of summer in a glass.