Hefeweizen style beers are a mainstay on most brewery lineups. The German style ale is both flavorful and approachable, making it a great beer for the would-be craft beer enthusiast and the hipster beer snob alike. While some breweries push the Hefeweizen style to incorporate new flavors and ingredients, there is something to be said for a solid classic hefe. Humphrey’s Hefe from Lumberyard Brewing Co. in Flagstaff, Arizona, is just such a beer. This beer comes in at around 5.6% ABV, and the flavor profile is precisely what one would expect in a hefeweizen while being well balanced and supremely enjoyable.
Upon pouring this beer, the first thing to pop out at me was the color and clarity. It was a light straw color and had just a slight haze, even after stirring up the sediment that tends to settle at the bottom. It seemed more effervescent than most hefeweizens, and the head consisted of large suds that stuck around fairly-well.
The aroma was right on the mark stylistically. The aroma and flavor components in Hefeweizen tend to come from chemical compounds called esters and phenols which come about during the fermentation process. Esters impart fruity flavors and phenols tend to impart spicy flavors. This beer was rich with the classic clove and banana characteristics that the style is known for. Apart from these two aromas, I found it difficult to detect anything else, other than faint hoppy aromas that didn’t manifest distinctly.
Banana bread was the first thing that hit my mind as I took my first sip. There was a malty component that came together with the banana and the spice components to give that impression. It had a creamy mouthfeel that further accentuated the banana characteristics. I found the flavor to be a bit more complex. There were brief hints of white pepper and coriander that would briefly rise above the clove flavor. At times the clove would give way to nutmeg. There was a bit of brightness as well that tended to present itself as lemon but would fade back to a sharpness that was less discernable. All the while, the subtle bitterness and maltiness created a solid backdrop for the other characteristics to play around.
The finish lingered with a slight sharpness and pleasant bitterness. The spicy notes kicked around for quite some time as well. This beer is a great representation of the Hefeweizen style. I would pair it with German fares like brats, schnitzel, potatoes, sauerkraut etc. It would go perfectly as an accompaniment to a charcuterie board with cheese and cured meats. The spicy characteristics and sharper flavors would cut through the fat of the cheese and cured meats, offering a nice counterbalance.