I once read an interview with Wisconsin Brewing Company
's brewmaster Kirby Nelson in which he described his beers as not being about extreme flavors or chasing trends but rather he wanted them to be the perfect accompaniment to the pursuit of happiness. Sitting around with friends and family, enjoying their company, laughing, and sipping a cold one. A cold one at the time of the interview was a Capital brew and Nelson has since taken to brewing extreme beers at his current gig but WBC retains the laid-back Gemuchlikeit of the Capital biergarten.
And so it is always a pleasure for me to visit WBC and pass the time with good company while sitting on an Adirondack chair overlooking the pond with a cold one. The brewery's Forward! series, consisting of very small batches of trial brews, featured an ESB a couple of weeks ago
which drew me and a friend out to Verona and a hefeweizen last week which did the same.
Kirby brewed a fine hefeweizen when he was with Capital – Kloster Weizen. I believe it went into hibernation around 2006. It reemerged in 2012 as Weizen and Kirby left for WBC shortly thereafter. To the best of my knowledge WBC has not brewed this style until now – certainly not bottled one – although there could have been one earlier in the Forward! series. Truth be known, I don't know that the current weissbier was even brewed by Kirby or if it was done by one of his minions.
The placard at the bar described the bier as having "notes of banana, clove and bubblegum". And yes, the sign lacked a serial comma. (Long live the serial comma!) Now, these flavors are all well and good but which one would be most prominent? The sign had it in the correct order as far as I am concerned. My preference is for banana accented by a little clove with a hint of bubblegum being optional.
Hefeweizen was a lovely light gold color that shimmered in the evening sun. Being unfiltered, the bier was quite cloudy. My glass (plastic?!) had a decent-sized white head that was very creamy and lasted a good while. There were plenty of bubbles inside the bier heading upwards.
I was slightly disappointed to smell a pretty big bubblegum bouquet. Banana followed while the wheat hovered in the background. Let me clarify my tastes and say that I don't dislike that bubblegum flavor in a hefeweizen but rather it is the least desirable of the flavors that the bier's yeast produces.
The taste followed suit with bubblegum at the fore trailed by the banana and a succinct bit of clove too. The bier had a light body with a nice mild wheat/grainy flavor beneath the trifecta of yeasty tastes. It was well-carbonated which made for a very refreshing bier out in the sun.
On the finish there was some lingering maltiness which was slightly sweet. This was joined by some grassy hop flavor and a modicum of bitterness – just enough for a slight dryness. There was also some lemony-citrus here which added a little zesty sharpness to complement the hop bitterness.
Hefeweizen is, if I may quote from the Supper Club can, not bad. Banana esters are my preference for the style. Not only for their taste but also because they add body. While it can certainly be overdone, I do like just enough to give my weissbier a little chewiness. Now, having given an account of my Platonic ideal of a weissbier, I will say that I enjoyed Hefeweizen. Its light body and fizziness definitely made it refreshing while sitting out in the sun. (It's 4.8% A.B.V.) Even if the bubblegum isn't my preferred flavor, it tasted fine and, besides, there was banana too. And the little bit of lemon on the finish was just perfect.
Junk food pairing: WBC's Hefeweizen goes well with lighter foods. I suggest guacamole flavored tortilla chips as well as Cape Cod Sweet Red Chili potato chips.
Labels: Beer, Hefeweizen, Weissbier, Wisconsin Brewing Company