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Hefeweizens....Any Good Ones Brewed in the US?

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SwAMi75

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Has anyone come across a good Hefe brewed here? My favorite, and the one I consider my "benchmark" for the style is Weihenstephaner hefeweizen...brewed in Germany, of course. Also happens to be the world's oldest brewery. It's hard to find around here, though.

I've seen a few American beers advertised as "wheat" beers, but very few actual hefes. One is Widmer Bros.... I got a sixer of that stuff, and it is crap! To me it was hardly a good beer, let alone a good hefe. I had some Pyramid up in Seattle a few years back, and liked it at the time. Also had some Sam Adams hefe on tap, and it was OK, but nothing to write home about. Not the good wheaty, yeasty stuff I like. :)

As for the German brands, Franzikaner isn't bad, and Palauner is OK. I also got ahold of some stuff called "Konig Ludwig", made by Warsteiner, that wasn't half bad. All three I consider true to the style, which is more than I can say about the American stuff I've had.

So based on my likes, does anyone have a US hefe they could recommend? Or should I just keep on searching for Weihenstephaner? :)
 

rightwingnut

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Hoegaarden Wit. I don't know hefes, but this was a good beer. Others on the board have said it was good. I think Janx loves it and Smorris hates it. You should try to find a six and check it out for yourself.
 
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SwAMi75

SwAMi75

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Oh yeah, I love Hoegaarden, and drink a lot of it. :D It's not a hefeweizen though. It's a Belgian white (or wit) beer. These are wheat beers, but are generally paler and are brewed with coriander and lemon or orange, and sometimes other spices. Not as yeasty as a hefeweizen, either.

Hefe is German for yeast. Weizen means wheat. That's really all there is to a hefe, but they tend to use a particular strain of yeast that gives you a banana and/or clove aroma that is a characteristic of the style.

Seek out some Weihenstephaner hefeweizen, or maybe Franzikaner or Palauner, and you'll see what I mean.

Sam
 

homebrewer_99

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I've been drinking HWs since Feb 1975 (my first time in Germany).

I lived in Germany for 9 years and have had all those and tons more.

Germans use one strain of yeast for fermenting and another for bottle conditioning. This is why a lot of yeast cultured HWs don't taste correct.

If one is planning on using the yeast from a bottle then they should use it for the bottle, not as a primary yeast. Unfortunately, most imported HWs have been pasteurized so the yeast doesn't have any life in it.

Pasteurization is done to preserve the beer to last over a generally accepted period of 90 days. Germans don't do this (unless it is an "Export") because they drnk their beer while fresh. Remember, HW is an ale not a lager.
 

Janx

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Seems almost every brewpub on the west coast makes a Hefe...I almost never get them, so I can't really comment on quality. But they are around. Gotta be some good ones, as many other good beers as there are.
 

homebrewer_99

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Just for the sake of debate, we have no "Hefe Weizen" in the US. :(

Reason: They are German. We, in the United States, speak "Americanese" not English.

In Americanese "Hefe Weizen" translates into "Yeast Wheat", just as "Schmidt" (and a hundred other variations) would translate to "Smith". :D :D
 
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homebrewer_99 said:
Just for the sake of debate, we have no "Hefe Weizen" in the US. :(

Reason: They are German. We, in the United States, speak "Americanese" not English.

In Americanese "Hefe Weizen" translates into "Yeast Wheat", just as "Schmidt" (and a hundred other variations) would translate to "Smith". :D :D
:confused: Not sure if I'm getting you here. If I follow your thought, then you aren't really brewing Hefe yourself are you? How about if I make one since I am 100% German, would it then be a Hefe? (living in the US).

Sincerely,
Hans Gruber
 

homebrewer_99

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desertBrew said:
:confused: Not sure if I'm getting you here. If I follow your thought, then you aren't really brewing Hefe yourself are you? How about if I make one since I am 100% German, would it then be a Hefe? (living in the US).

Sincerely,
Hans Gruber

Ein gute frage. Servus, Hans! Ja, stimmt. Es ist night gleich fur Ami's. Wenn du bist eine Deutscher dann es ist ganz rightig!

Wo kommst Du auf Deutschland? Ich war in Augsburg (vier jahren) und Bamberg (funf jahren).


My point was ... since we are not in the country of origin then the actual phrase (Hefe Weizen) should be Anglesized (more like Yeast Wheat or Wheat Yeast), as we Americans like to Anglesized everything.

I read once that in America you can spell your name S-M-I-T-H and pronounce it "Johnson" if you'd like.

It's like, I don't really brew a "Hefe Weizen" (as much as I would like to), but more of a "Hefe Weizen-Style" or "German-Style Hefe Weizen".

In the end we all brew what we like.

Hopfen und Malz Gott erhalts! Prosit!
 
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(2 generation American born German, I'm going to have to Babelfish those sentences :D )

Grandparents came from Dusseldorf during WW1.

I was half pulling your leg as I hope you got... Name is Gruber but Hans; he was my brother but was killed by that damn Die Hard cop from NY!!
 

Janx

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homebrewer_99 said:
My point was ... since we are not in the country of origin then the actual phrase (Hefe Weizen) should be Anglesized (more like Yeast Wheat or Wheat Yeast), as we Americans like to Anglesized everything.
Why is that? We have tons of words that are used in Americanese, found in American English dictionaries, yet are unchanged from their foreign meaning. There's no need to translate into some less lyrical term.

Smorgasborg, Hors D'Ouevres (sp?), shmuck, pinata, croissant, tortilla, pico de gallo, salsa verde, forte etc, etc, etc... (I must be hungry ;))

It goes on and on...our language is full of words taken directly from another language, but now treated as "Americanese" even if there is an English synonym or translation. We have to have lots of words for the same thing after all. We're a melting pot! That's how the language grows and changes. Thank the stars for different languages and their different sounds. We need different languages to keep the world rich and interesting and lyrical. Can you imagine if all songs were sung in German?!?!

The point is, if I make a Hefe Weizen, I can call it a Hefe Weizen, not some literal translation that doesn't sound as cool. ;)

Aloha! :D
 
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SwAMi75

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OK, so are their any good American yeast wheat beers out there, like the ones they brew in Deutchland?

You've piqued my interest now, homebrewer99. I'm really wanting to do a good hef....err, yeast wheat....or whatever!! My first batch was OK. I pitched Wyeast's Weihenstephaner yeast. Think it would go better fermenting with a more "standard" yeast strain, then bottling with the Weihenstephaner?
 

homebrewer_99

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Janx, I know what you mean by the plethera of foreign words in our language. English is a Germanic language afterall, so you can't seperate a lot of the words.

One of the things I like to do has to do with word origins and the like. I like words. I've been using them all my like (except when I was a babbling baby - or had a few too many beers - HAHA!!).

My intent was to point out some differences in word usage. That's all. And yes, I really do enjoy using a lot of the foreign words. They really do contribute to our language experience.

Take "smorgabord" (your example) for instance. It's the Swedish word for "buffet". The funny (strange funny - "komisch" in German) thing is they (Webster) use "hor d'ourvres (French) to define a Swedish word. We use both of those words here in the US.

Sam75: I'd have to say "no". But that does not mean there aren't any good ones. I happen to like Shiner's Weizen (from Texas), but it's hard to find where I live. I really like Thomas Kempers (Seattle) Pyramid (?) Apricot Wheat. I haven't had any in about 10 years though.

FWIW, I used to go to Maisel's gasthaus (next to the brewery in Bamberg, Germany) several times a week for 5 years when I lived there. They even gave me one of their menu signs (the chalkboard type) as a going away present. It has the types and prices of their beers on it. I sprayed over it with a clearcoat to preserve the writing and hand-carried it back to the States. :D
 

Janx

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Yeah I was just joking around, going off on some tangent ;)

Sorry if I sounded seriously bothered or anything :D
 

DeRoux's Broux

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So based on my likes, does anyone have a US hefe they could recommend? Or should I just keep on searching for Weihenstephaner? :)[/QUOTE]

Hey Sam, try Erdinger Weis or Dunkel Weis (German). Oberdorfer (German)has a good Dunkel Weis, as does Julias Echter (German). I dig dunkel weis style. I can get all these in Texas, so I'm sure you can get them in your area. Shiner (Spoetzle Brewery in Shiner, TX) has a Hefe that's pretty good. At least they tell you to drink it out of a glass and rouse the rest half way through the pour on the bottle.

Cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 

DeRoux's Broux

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Sam75 said:
You've piqued my interest now, homebrewer99. I'm really wanting to do a good hef....err, yeast wheat....or whatever!! My first batch was OK. I pitched Wyeast's Weihenstephaner yeast. Think it would go better fermenting with a more "standard" yeast strain, then bottling with the Weihenstephaner?
I have a hefe in the primary, and I have brewed it before. Everyone said it was one of their favorites. i use the White Labs Hefe IV liquide yeast and it does the trick for me! :D
 

homebrewer_99

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No problem, Janx....it's always a pleasure to banter with you. Over these words we can get the meaning, but sometimes the emotion is lost and/or misunderstood.

DeRoux's Broux: I've tried all of those brands many, many times. I don't know what to recommend for you to use in the bottle. Kreusening would be my best guess. You could always split the batch (just prior to bottling) in 2 and kreusen 1 and use DME in the other.

I haven't used White Labs HW IV (yet), as I use WLP 300. They all seem to produce a bit different flavor, so I am still experimenting with WL yeasts.
I think I'm on batch 17 or so in less than a year, but they include at least 5 HWs (some with fruit), a Bock, 2 Czech Budvar Lagers, Pumpkin, Christmas, a Spiced (coriander, sweet orange peel and ginger) Ale, and others.

I just got back into brewing last year after a 5 year break. I was living in Bamberg, Germany and didn't see a need to brew with 9 breweries in town and 2 more (St Georgen Brau and Buttenheim Lowenbrau) less than a mile from my house. Incidently, Buttenheim was where Levi Strauss was born and grew up (within 300 meters of both of those breweries).

I used to use Yeast Lab W51 exclusively, but they are no longer producing it. I just recently found out that it was sold to White Labs and renamed #351, per Whitelabs.com, but it is not in any of their brochures. It seems to be available on-line though.

I will be ordering it directly from them in a couple of weeks. I'm going on a business trip to Colo Springs, CO this Sat and will be gone over a week.
 

DeRoux's Broux

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homebrewer_99 said:
I haven't used White Labs HW IV (yet), as I use WLP 300. They all seem to produce a bit different flavor, so I am still experimenting with WL yeasts.
I think I'm on batch 17 or so in less than a year, but they include at least 5 HWs (some with fruit), a Bock, 2 Czech Budvar Lagers, Pumpkin, Christmas, a Spiced (coriander, sweet orange peel and ginger) Ale, and others.

I just got back into brewing last year after a 5 year break. I was living in Bamberg, Germany and didn't see a need to brew with 9 breweries in town and 2 more (St Georgen Brau and Buttenheim Lowenbrau) less than a mile from my house. Incidently, Buttenheim was where Levi Strauss was born and grew up (within 300 meters of both of those breweries).

I used to use Yeast Lab W51 exclusively, but they are no longer producing it. I just recently found out that it was sold to White Labs and renamed #351, per Whitelabs.com, but it is not in any of their brochures. It seems to be available on-line though.
99, you lucky bastard! :D i'd love to get to spend time in Germany and sip a real Kolsch, Alt, or Dunkel Weis. knaw on some schnitzel! my brother get's to go to Belgium and Germany for work, so he always rubs it in! at least he brings me beer back....
my WL Hefe IV went nuts on me. Blew the top off my fermentor twice. I went to rack it last night, w/ no visible activity all day, pulled the lid off, and still had a good 1.5 " thick head of foam on top. it's been in there since saturday :confused: i'll check it friday, and see.

Cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 
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SwAMi75

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OK, just got a sixer of Shiner Hefe. Says it's brewed with honey, wheat, orange and lemon.

The stuff isn't particularly hazy, and it puts off a lot of large bubbles from the bottom of the glass. It smells more or less like a good hefe, but the flavor is odd. Tastes totally different than it smells.

I can't put my finger on it, but it has a pretty dry finish, unlike any other hefe I've had. I'd imagine that's the honey in it. I did forget to rouse the yeast as I was in a hurry. I will on the next bottle and if it makes a big difference, I'll post back. :D Actually it might, since hefe's get a lot of their character from the yeast alone.

It's not bad, but not my idea of a good hefe. It's considerably better than Widmer, so I'll still tip my hat to the folks at Spoetzel!

Sam
 

DeRoux's Broux

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Sam75 said:
OK, just got a sixer of Shiner Hefe. Says it's brewed with honey, wheat, orange and lemon.

The stuff isn't particularly hazy, and it puts off a lot of large bubbles from the bottom of the glass. It smells more or less like a good hefe, but the flavor is odd. Tastes totally different than it smells.

I can't put my finger on it, but it has a pretty dry finish, unlike any other hefe I've had. I'd imagine that's the honey in it. I did forget to rouse the yeast as I was in a hurry. I will on the next bottle and if it makes a big difference, I'll post back. :D Actually it might, since hefe's get a lot of their character from the yeast alone.

It's not bad, but not my idea of a good hefe. It's considerably better than Widmer, so I'll still tip my hat to the folks at Spoetzel!

Sam
hey sam, rouse the yeast for sure. it makes a difference (to me it does). it's not the best hefe by any means, but still a good, local brew (for Texan's) to drink. shiner also has a kolsch they brew for summer, called Summer Stock. good lawnmower beer. should be out soon......

DeRoux's Broux
 
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SwAMi75

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You're right, it did help a little. Not much, though. :D

Got a bottle of Pyramid hefe today. It's a step in the right direction, but still only so-so. Also had a Sierra Nevada wheat. Tastes just like their pale ale with maybe some wheat malt tossed in. Tasted like it was hopped just the same, and used the same yeast as their pale ale....which means it was damned tasty, but not a great wheat brew.

I think I've about exhausted the biggest contenders. Oh well, I'll stick with the German stuff when I can find it!
 

DeRoux's Broux

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Sam75 said:
I think I've about exhausted the biggest contenders. Oh well, I'll stick with the German stuff when I can find it!

yea, i agree. they just don't compare. maybe the american brew's are not decoction mashed? i just like that bready, banana kick the dunkel weis has.
also, Saint Arnold's has a Krystal Weis. i've only had it once at the brewery on the tour. so, i dont know how the bottle is? they filter this one though. there beer's tend to be on the malty side, except the Elissa IPA (which is pretty good too!)
do what i do..can't find it.....BREW IT! :D

Cheers!
DeRoux's Broux
 

rightwingnut

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Just drank a bottle of Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier...HELLO! Going right now to pick up more!
 

rightwingnut

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Well, the store that carries it was closed. :( So, I picked up two different ones at another store....Hacker-Pschorr and Paulaner. We'll see. But, I am very excited about finding Stoudt's!!! I picked up a six of their APA...you can't get any better than they did with the label!! Hope it's awesome.
 
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SwAMi75

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Weihenstephaner hefe is the best, IMO. Glad you liked it! I'm finding quite a few of their beers around here, but rarely ever see the hefe! Pisses me off.

I need to stop whining and brew my own, I suppose.

Sam
 

rightwingnut

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Oh, yeah, it was great! I think I found another favorite style. After I get a few all-grain batches under my belt, I'll have to try a hefe.
 
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SwAMi75

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The very first batch I brewed was a hefe kit from Widwest Supplies. It turned out OK.

The recipes I've seen for hefe clones seem to be among the simplest of all recipes. I think that the tough part is tweaking your technique for brewing and fermenting them. The yeast strain plays a big part, as does the priming procedure. They seem to me more sensitive to the finer details of brewing than do other styles. I've been doing some sniffing around, and hope to be able to try one again soon, modifying my method some. It's a quest. :D

Sam
 

rightwingnut

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So, besides the tweaking you refer to, what are the major differences? It it just the addition of wheat, and a certain hop strain? For some reason, I thought hefes were more complicated.
 
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SwAMi75

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Not from what I've gathered.....they're simple. I've got an extract clone recipe for Weihenstephaner, and it doesn't even use a grain steep! Just malt extract (55% wheat, if memory serves), and one round of Hallertau hops for bittering.....that's it!

Again, I think the key is the yeast strain and technique....esp. when priming. I've read that many good ones use a second addition of yeast (often lager yeast) in the secondary ~3 days before bottling for more yeast flavor and greater carbonation.

From the first batch I did, I also think that the primary should be at the low end of the temperature spectrum to keep that "banana" smell down a little. Mine went fast at 69F.....chimps would have come running for my beer!

That's just my observations....I might be way wrong! But those are some things I plan to tweak the next time I brew one, because I really do love hefeweizens.

Sam
 

homebrewer_99

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Tucher also has a HW.

I'm not sure if I mentioned this or not, but I recently found out that White Labs WLP 351 is the former YeastLab W51 strain (White Labs website), but they don't advertise it in their brochures.
 
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SwAMi75

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Shovhed1 said:
Penn Brewery, located in western Pa. brews one of the best domestic hefe's that I have tried.
Thanks, I'll keep my eye out for some.

BTW, your nickname wooldn't happen to be short for "Shovelhead", would it?

Welcome to the forum!

Sam
 
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SwAMi75

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Shovhed1 said:
Yes Sam75, I ride a '77 flh
Very cool! I ride an '03 Sportster 1200 Sport. Harleys and homebrew (not at the same time of course)....what a life. :D

Sam
 

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You're not going to find too many true to style hefeweizens in the states. Most breweries make an American Wheat though it sounds like this isn't what you're looking for.

Personally, almost all of the beers I brew are some form of American wheat. My favorites being my Heather Wheat and my IPW (India Pale Wheat ;) )

If you haven't tried it yet I suggest the UFO from Harpoon here in Boston. I don't think it'll be exactly what you're looking for though because it is an American Wheat.

edit: my '71 Sportster is in the garage just waiting for the sun for a kick-start.
 
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