Saturday, May 7, 2011

Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier

The Weihenstephan Brewery lays claim to the title of "The World's Oldest Brewery."  About one thousand years ago, in 1040 A.D., the brewery was a monastery brewery of the Benedictine monks and the Royal Brewery of Bavaria.  Today, Weihenstephan is the brewery of the Free State of Bavaria, located in the city of Freising.

The Hefe Weissbier is commonly referred to as a Hefeweizen.  Brewers traditionally brewed this style of beer in the summertime, although these beers are now produced throughout the year.  These beers are brewed with top fermenting yeast (which is required in Bavaria). Hefe Weissbiers or Hefeweizens are produced using wheat.  By German law, at least fifty percent of the grist must be wheat, although some brewers use up to seventy percent.  The rest is usually Pilsner malt.  Brewers usually use a small amount of noble hops for bitterness, but you usually cannot tell because of the fruit flavors in the beer.  

In addition to all of the foregoing, Weihenstephaner also brews its Hefe Weissbier in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot or the Purity Law of 1516.  This law limits the ingredients to water, barley (or wheat in the case of Hefeweizen beers), hops and yeast. 

Weihenstephan's Weissbier pours a cloudy, yellowish, banana-like color, which is appropriate given what is to come when you smell and drink this beer.   The beer also produces a lot of foam, that remains with the beer for quite a while.  The flavors of bananas are in both the nose and the taste of the beer, along with some clove.  The taste of the beer also heavily emphasizes banana, with clove and even a little vanilla.

This beer is generally available at most beer stores and grocery stores, such as Whole Foods.  At $2.99 a bottle, it is perhaps the cheapest price you will find for a great beer. 


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