Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen – 4.9% ABV
I’ve had conversations with guys all the time about the state of craft brewing. Because I also brew my own beer, such conversations occur on a regular basis with other like-minded people. I mean, where do you think craft brewing came from? It came out of some guy’s basement or garage, where he tinkered around to find a good beer to make for himself and his drinking buddies. For some reason, I keep hearing this name Widmer Bros in conversations I’m having and I’m curious to see what these guys are all about. Maybe they started out the same way. Anyway, I went shopping and found a six pack of their hefeweizen on the shelf. I’ve always been a fan of a good tasty, wheat beer. Not that I’m not a fan of all beer, I’ve just had an affinity towards tasty hefeweizens for quite some time. But I digress. Being that this one came from Portland, OR (which is the heart of craft brew Mecca in many people’s opinion) I expected big things from this beer. The Sierra Nevada Kellerweis I previously reviewed has so far been the lone standout hefeweizen in my eyes. Could this one measure up? Perhaps keep the friendly interstate rivalry going between two West Coast craft breweries? Only time will tell.
What’s funny about this beer is that it is not technically a hefeweizen, but an American pale wheat ale. “What’s the difference?” I’m sure you would ask. Most American pale wheat ales don’t have the banana and clove presence that a true hefeweizen would have. The yeast that is used is what differentiates it. For me, that’s arguably my favorite attribute in that style of beer. Brownie points deducted. Also, many of these are garnished with a lemon wedge. This is a cardinal sin to many true-to-form beer drinkers. It kills the head and the acidic lemon also neutralizes the flavor. Sure, it might look pretty, but that’s not what I’m this for. Besides, do I really want a big piece of fruit dangling from the top of the glass? Might was well include a little umbrella and some ukelele music. Sorry, not for me. This is beer we’re talking about.
To view it doesn’t really do anything for you that any other good hefeweizen worth its salt wouldn’t do. You see a hazy, pale golden orange color fill your weissen glass with a fairly decent finger-and-a-half thick head floating on top. At least that’s what I got. So it looks like your standard hefeweizen. The smell is much the same as well – citrus and yeast. Some detectable hints of wheat and straw. Ok, fair enough. I wasn’t expecting much more than that. Now let’s separate the men from the little girls – tasting time.
Right up front, the taste of wheat and malt hits the palate. Then comes a bit of lemon zestiness, albeit slightly thin. Not very pronounced. The mouthfeel is fairly light and thin as well, there is plenty of carbonation, but it is still refreshing. A good amount of soapy lacing rests around the glass, but fades into obscurity quickly. A bit watery in comparison to others I’ve had like this. So what to make of it? Seems rather thin and mass-produced. I could have gotten this from a major label for much less. This one certainly doesn’t stand up to a Kellerweis, there’s little spice element or zesty citrus backbone to rely on. But I have to remind myself again that “technically” they’re in two separate categories. Whatever, I know what my mouth is telling me.
I need to talk to my fellow Keg Tapper Juan and find out what the story is with Widmer, and with Portland. Maybe there are bolder, tastier options available to me out there. You know me – go big or go home. In summary, if you want something good and refreshing to last you through a hot summer day mowing your yard or working on the car, grab it. It goes down easily and keeps you nice and cool. But if you’re hunting for a truly epic craft hefeweizen, full of citrus and spice and everything nice, keep searching. These are not the droids you’re looking for.