I'm glad to know I've got someone who's with me on the Hercules. Your perception of it seems to exactly mirror mine.
I've got a whole lot of reviews tonight. Fortunately for y'all, I typed these up when I was more sober. That said, tis':
Hefeweizen Night! Or, Wookie listens to RDH Night!
The only hefeweizen's I've had prior to just recently have been American ones. Most of them have been pretty insipid, without much in the way of malt, hops, or extras to give them the bold flavors I love in beer. RunDownHouse, however, has been pretty adament about his love for the variety, but only the original German versions. A few weeks ago at Beers of the World I saw they had a special on the Juilus Echter Bavarian hefeweizen, which I'll review first here, so I picked up a bottle to see what I thought. I was impressed, so I resolved to pick up a few more to see what else I could find in the style. For this review, I got another bottle of the Julius Echter, a Paulaner, a Weihenstephaner, and for an American version for comparison, Brooklyn's offering. Brooklyn beer I've found to be generally really solid, especially for the price. They're a little more than Sam Adams, but it's for the most part exactly what I'm looking for in an "everyday beer," that's just simple and good rather than something exotic (and expensive). First up, I'll review the Julius Echter, since that's the one I'm most familiar with, and it'll be the bar by which the others are judged.
This beer I picked up for just $1.96 for a 16 oz bottle. Considering I paid $1.85 for a single 12 oz of Brooklyn's Weiss (about $8 for a sixer, and BotW is on the expensive side), this is very cheap. Unfortunately, the bottle doesn't give me the ABV, but I'd expect it to be in the ballpark of 5%. Here are the usual pictures.
I probably poured this a little aggressively, but it has a nice rich head. Taking a sniff, this beer obviously has more to it than almost all the other hefeweizens I've tried (Pyramid, some small brew pubs, others I forget). I smell a little apple and hint of coriander and clove. Taking a sip, I taste the wheat, a little bit of hoppiness. There's a little bit of banana, and the apple and spice come through in the finish. This isn't as bold as a Belgian white or golden ale, but considering that all this flavor comes just from the special yeast strains and not additives, I'm very impressed. This is a very solid beer, and it's an excellent buy for the price. I may very well pick up a case next time I'm shopping. I award this beer
and a half
Next up is the Paulaner. This is one RDH mentioned as a fairly ubiquitous offering and a good example for people to try. I paid $2.69, so it was a little more than even the regular price of the Echter. This one weighs in at 5.5% ABV.
This doesn't have nearly as much head as the Echter, and it's a little darker in color. I'd say it doesn't smell quite as strong. I smell the apple, and a little banana, but not quite as much spice. Hmmm. Taking a sip, this has quite a different character. The banana comes through much more strongly, and the apple is just lingering in the background. The hop character is similar: just a hint. There isn't the same hint of spice, it's almost all banana in the finish. I think this beer is a little sweeter as well, giving it a slightly thicker feel. It finishes longer, but I don't think it's quite as complex. I'm going to award this beer
, but it's partially personal preference, and partially cost. I could easily see someone liking the Paulaner better, but I'm going to give the nod to the Echter.
I'm going to review the Brooklyn Weisse Beer next. This beer claims to be brewed in the Bavarian style, but we'll see. I'm skeptical of American hefeweizens, but on the other hand, I'm hopeful for this brewery. This beer doesn't specify it's ABV.
This beer has almost no head, which is somewhat disappointing. It's smell, though, gives me hope. It smells much more complex than most hefeweizens I've tried, but a little different from the German ones. I don't really smell the banana, but I smell a little apple and pear, and maybe, like, fig. There's a little spice in the smell, too. Taking a sip, I'm impressed. This has good wheat flavor with a hint of hops like the Bavarian ones I've tried. I taste a little apple, and I catch just a flash of cinnamon (of all things) sorta just as I swallow. There's clove hiding there, too. It doesn't finish quite as long as the Paulaner, but similar to the Echter. It has coriander in the finish like the Echter, too. I think this beer is a little drier than the other two. I find myself liking this beer more as I go through it. My first impression was 2.5, and then 3, and then 3.5, but I think I'm going to give this beer
. This beer isn't quite as bold as the other two, but someone who really enjoys mining for new flavors may really enjoy it the most. I could see someone liking any of these three the best; it just depends on what you're going for. The Paulaner is the boldest, but it's not as complex. The Brooklyn is a little more subtle, but the most complex. The Echter is just an extremely well balanced beer.
Last up is the Weihenstephaner, which RDH recommended as his favorite that is pretty widely available. I paid $3.19 for a 16 oz bottle, making it the most expensive of the hefeweizens I bought. This beer is 5.4% ABV.
And we finish off with a nice heady beer. It has a great smell that I could detect even before sticking my nose in my goblet. Apple, pear, banana, clove, coriander, and just a hint of cinnamon. Smells great
. Oh, wow. I think we have a winner. This beer has a richer grain taste than the others, and a more complex finish. The friut doesn't come through quite as strongly as the Paulaner, but my tongue keeps digging for more like it did with the Brooklyn. It's hard to belive that this beer was only made with wheat, barley, yeast, hops, and water. This beer is pretty easily a
beer, a rating I never would have thought I would have given to a hefeweizen. Thanks, RDH, for turning me back on to this variety of beer.