Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beer Style Breakdown 101: Hefeweizens

I started dabbling in the whole craft beer thing about three years ago.  I remember discovering that life-changing "crossover" beer, the one that made me want to learn more about what was in that bottle I was drinking from.  I figured if I was going to partake, I might as well enjoy it on the way down.  You don't eat solely to get full, right?  Why only drink to get drunk?

The Beer Aisle can be pretty intimidating when you're trying to broaden your horizons.  All of those different breweries and punny beer names and colorful labels...it's a lot to take in.  It's like walking through the New Release section at those old-fashioned video rental stores from back in the decade.

For those interested in learning more about craft beer, I've decided to do a (number to be determined)-part series covering various beer styles here on the blog.  I won't get too crazy or elaborate - just a quick, simple breakdown of a particular style, its characteristics and a few of my personal favorites, if you want a little head start.

Since I spend most of my waking life in the kitchen, I thought we could switch it up and take our lesson outside.

Isn't this birdhouse darling?  It's seen better days but I can't bring myself to toss it.

Okay, okay, let's get started.

Style:  Hefeweizen
Country of origin:  Germany
Also known as:  Hefeweissbier (in the Bavarian region of Germany)

 In German, the word "hefeweizen" can be broken down into two words.

"Hefe" = yeast
"Weizen" = wheat

Simply put: a hefeweizen is a traditional German-style beer that is brewed with wheat and whose yeast sediment is left unfiltered.

See how you can't even see through the glass?

That's one unfiltered beer.  No Britas allowed.

In addition to its cloudy appearance, hefeweizens are beautifully golden in color, use minimal hops (which means less bitterness), have a fluffy, pillow-like head (as I so gracefully demonstrated a few pictures up) and typically possess hints of banana and cloves, brought forth from the yeast.  It's a super refreshing style of beer, which makes it a popular choice during the summer months.

My personal favorites:  Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier (Germany), Ayinger Brau Weisse (Germany), Victory Sunrise Weissbier (PA)

Hefeweizens are often confused with witbiers (Blue Moon being one of the most widely known) and while they both fall under the category of wheat beer, they are two different styles.  We'll cover witbiers another day when I don't have a pizza on the way.

Until then, happy (and safe) sipping.  I hope that didn't sound too teacher-y.


  1. Summer is here. I'm thirsty. Looking forward to more beer lessons. xoxo

  2. Cool series idea.

    Your birds are trashy.

  3. You should see the inside. There's a tv on top of a broken tv.

  4. I'm not much of a drinker but I'm interested to learn more and your idea has piqued my interest. :)

    Yesterday, I listened to ESPN while I had Univision streaming the Italy vs. Paraguay game. I sympathize with your birds.

  5. I love your idea to post lessons about different types of beer! Very cool, I can't wait for more. I think your bird trailer is darling!

  6. Ooooh. I definitely like the idea of beer posts. I am a beer idiot so I have lots to learn.

  7. Thanks ladyfriends. That whole "variety is the spice of life" thing applies to beer, too. Why not take advantage of it?

  8. I'm a lover of Hefeweizens, but I learned a lot from this post! I didn't know it meant wheat & yeast and couldn't tell you how it was different from Blue Moon, just that they weren't quite the same. :)

    Thanks, and no, not too teacher-y. I've never told my students "safe sipping" ;).

  9. Love this series idea! I look forward to more!

  10. Ironically I do not drink. Why is this ironic? My husband has been home brewing for about five years. He brewed the beer for our wedding and has even won some local awards. Our vacations center around beer releases and festivals.
    Following you on Twitter :)


  11. That's awesome, Ally! My dude and I brewed the beer for our wedding last year, too. I'm sure your guests loved you for it :D

    "Our vacations center around beer releases and festivals." Ain't that the truth, sister.

  12. I wish I could drink beer. I'm allergic to stuff in it though sadly.