Chris Hall reviews Weihenstephan Hefewiess
Weihenstephan have been turning out beer in Bavaria since 1040 (or so the bottle before me claims). The brewery’s Hefeweiss is big, ballsy example of the style that quenches the parts other beer styles can’t reach. The label is all very regal, gold and blue with ‘WORLD’S OLDEST BREWERY’ emblazoned over front and back. I can’t comment on the truth in that, but Weihenstephan appear to have Roger Protz’s permission to stick his review of the beer on the back label, from his 300 Beers To Try Before You Die book. I tried to ignore Protz’s review as, whilst this is great for consumers, it inevitably affects a reviewer’s perception of the beer.
Weihenstephan Hefeweiss is like burnished gold in the glass, very lively in carbonation, paler than many wheat beers, but still reassuringly cloudy. The head is naturally thick and dense, forming cloud shapes as it recedes. The nose is textbook hefeweiss (cloves, nutmeg, banana) but with a pleasing and appetising pepperiness to the brew that suggests a decent amount of hops.
The first taste is a bit of a shock, not in flavour, but sharpness. The sudden bursts of banana, followed up with spicy punches of clove and nutmeg are feisty and lip-smacking. When the finish arrives it leaves an equal and quite delicious aftertaste of all three. The high carbonation and potent smack of hops make future tastes just as sharp and snappy. Hefeweiss is a very different kind of refreshment to a lager, and this classic from Weihenstephan delivers refreshment in bucketloads.
Most wheat beers become a little thin or too yeasty towards the end, but Weihenstephan Hefeweiss manages to stay fresh and clean all the way down. The hops are used deftly with the carbonation to raise the clarity of the beer without overstating its flavours. It’s a very impressive all-rounder, with sharp elbows and plenty of bite.