Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

07 September, 2016

You Got Hala Kahiki in My Bier: Laka Laka by Horny Goat Brewing

I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't realize this was a Horny Goat beer until I took it out of the refrigerator to drink it. It was purchased in late July down in suburban Chicago as part of a mix'n'match set, although it was The Dulcinea that chose it. A pineapple hefeweizen sounded tasty and I just didn't take notice of the brewer as she put the can into the six pack holder.

Once I was aware that this was a Horny Goat brew, it occurred to me that I have not seen their beers around Madison in a while. Or at least I cannot recall doing so. Surely my eyes just wander past them and the brewery hasn't left the market.

Horny Goat was founded in 2008 in Milwaukee and is a brewery that hires other breweries to make their beers. My can indicates that they are City Brewing in La Crosse and the Stevens Point Brewery in – where else? - Stevens Point. However, the company opened a brewpub called the Horny Goat Hideaway in the Cream City but it closed last year. Presumably a period of retrenchment is over and now it's time to rebuild.

Laka Laka is, as I noted above, a pineapple hefeweizen and appears to be a summer seasonal. "Laka" is, according to Wikipedia, the name given to two different heroes in Hawaiian mythology while "laka laka", according to Urban Dictionary, means to have sex or to f*ck off. Presumably the former is being invoked here.

Laka Laka pours a medium yellow/light gold. Its slight haze did not prevent me from seeing a copious amount of bubbles inside. A small, loose, white head dissipated quickly. To be honest, I was not expecting this bier to be great but it sure got off to a nice start because it looked really nice.

Unsurprisingly, the aroma was heavy on the pineapple. It smelled like pineapple juice, actually. There was also a little bit of honey. Combined, they gave the bier a very sweet, though not overly cloying, scent.

The taste was similar with pineapple juice taking the lead. It was quite sweet but the generous carbonation helped take the edge off as did a hint of some spicy hops that were like a wallflower in the background. I struggled but was unable to taste any flavors that make a hefeweizen a hefeweizen. No banana, clove, or bubble gum.

For the finale, some of the sweetness stuck around and was joined by vanilla – the first sign that this was a weissbier – while the hops gained traction and came out to the dance floor. Bitterness was still retrained but the contrast was stark considering how sweet this bier is. Schaumhaftvermoegen consisted of a sizable group of spots towards the bottom of my glass.

I will admit that I liked Laka Laka but this is because it tasted like pineapple juice and pineapple juice is good stuff. On the other hand, I couldn't taste any wheat nor any of the fine flavors that the yeast produced such as banana or clove, excepting a dash of vanilla on the finish. All of that juice de-hefed the bier.

I don't want to deny hard pineapple juice a place in the pantheon of summer thirst quenchers but I ws expecting and hoping for more hefeweizen. If you add so much fruit or fruit juice to your beer so as to obscure the hallmarks of the style, is it still that style? I thought about this when I was drinking that mango Kölsch last month. With that bier, the light, delicate fruit flavors from the yeast were supplanted by a light, delicate dose of mango. Yet I liked it greatly.

Here I think the difference isn't simply that pineapple supplanted an estery taste here or a phenolic one there. It's that, excepting the hops, the tell-tale characteristics of beer were in absentia.

Junk food pairing: Go for the authentic Hawaiian experience and pair your Laka Laka with some Spam flavored macadamia nuts.

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|| Palmer, 6:27 AM


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