Hefeweizen has become synonymous with summer beer across the Upper Midwest, but did you know that in 1984 Schell’s was the first American brewery to make one?
Because of their connections in Germany, Ted Marti worked out a trip to learn how to make it the right way at Ayinger Brauerei, which he then brought back to New Ulm and has shared with the rest of us ever since. At the time, Schell’s was introducing what’s now known as craft beer, and they started off honoring their German heritage with those first releases, much as they continue to do today with new creations such as the Berliner Weisse Noble Star Collection. “Hefeweizen was, and still is, such a popular style of beer in Bavaria, that with our German heritage, it made sense to introduce that beer, along with a Pilsner, as our first all malt beer,” explains current brewmaster (and Ted’s son) Jace Marti.
In addition to Schell’s mastery of the style, we asked Jace to recommend some others worth a taste:
Ayinger Bräu Weisse
This is from the brewery where my dad worked at, and probably my favorite German hefeweizen. It’s got a wonderfully fruity character that is quite different than most other hefeweizens and a velvety smooth mouthfeel. Just a beautiful beer.
My other favorite hefeweizen. This one has all of the characteristic banana and clove notes that you associate in a traditional hefe, with a little more malt character. Another beautiful example.
Again from the Schneider brewery, this is a dry hopped version of a weizen bock. The aroma is this incredible mix of tropical fruits and bananas that reminds me of Tang fruit salad, and is dangerously drinkable.
New Glarus Dancing Man Wheat
I love everything that Dan does with New Glarus, and his hefe is no exception. He apprenticed at Ayinger and makes one of the best US examples. Made with traditional open top fermenters, this amped up version has a spicier note to it to go along with all the wonderful banana and clove goodness.
Fair State Hefeweizen
I’m a big fan of what Niko is doing at Fair State, and his hefe is one of the biggest reasons why. A great addition to the local scene, and an extremely refreshing beer for the summer.
A noteworthy tip from Jace concerning how to best enjoy your hefeweizen: Always pour your hefeweizen into a glass. It’s unfiltered, and so there will be a sediment on the bottom of the bottle. That is yeast, and also what packs the most flavor. Pour 3/4th of the beer into the glass, then swirl the remaining beer in the bottle to rouse the yeast, and then pour the rest into your glass. You won’t be disappointed!
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