A guide to the zesty, contemplative Hefeweizen
WHAT IS IT?
A top fermented ale, frequently made with up to 70% malted wheat, renowned for its fruity, spicy nose and lightly tart, quaffable body. It literally translates as “yeast-wheat.”
Colour: Straw to burnt orange
Body: Medium full
Although the Reinheitsgebot of 1516 suggested that beer could only be made with barley, hops, and water, that rule doesn’t apply to the royal family of Bavaria. The privilege of making beer with wheat was reserved for them. At a time when the majority of beer on the market was brown, a brilliant, heavily carbonated beer in a much lighter colour was something that separated you from the peasantry. Also, frequently drunk before lunch.
Weisswurst and a pretzel
WHY IS THERE A BANANA IN MY BEER?
Hefeweizen yeast strains ferment fairly hot when left to their own devices. The fruity character is natural. It’s isoamyl acetate, something that chemists refer to generically as “banana oil.” The slightly spicy clove notes are as a result of phenolic compounds like 4-vinyl guaiacol and eugenol. You might also experience vanilla, juicy fruit, and bubblegum. This is normal if you’re a Bavarian princeling.
SIX MUST-TRY B.C. HEFEWEIZEN
• Beachcomber Hefeweizen, Vancouver Island Brewing
• This is Hefeweizen, Moon Under Water Brewery
• 50/50 Hefeweizen, KPU Brew Lab
• Umlaut, Brassneck Brewery
• Der Klassiker, Steel & Oak Brewing
• Red Hef, Abandoned Rail Brewing
—With files from Joe Wiebe