Aug. 15, 2012 - Issue #878: Snap Turns 30
The joy of hefeweizensMuskoka Summer Weiss
Muskoka Brewery, Bracebridge, Ontario
$13.99 for two 750-mL bottles
Summers are made for hefeweizens. Or maybe hefeweizens were made for summer? Either way, the soft, spicy, fruity wheat beer seems perfect on a sweltering summer afternoon when your skin is craving for something to relieve the heat.
Hefeweizen is a classic German-style ale that offers a dual accent of wheat and unique yeast characteristics. It is a style nothing like the fruity, mostly bland wheat ales on offer in the average pub this time of year. The Germans, understandably, make some of the finest hefeweizens I have tasted, but recently I have become more interested in exploring how non-German brewers interpret the style. Some work better than others, as you might expect, but I have come to appreciate the different interpretations.
One interesting example is the summer seasonal from an Ontario brewery, Muskoka, recently available in Alberta. They are mostly known for a quality IPA (Mad Tom IPA), but their seasonals can be curious, so I picked up a pack of their Summer Weiss to give it a try. I like the 750-m swing top bottles it comes in, as they are perfect for a variety of uses post-consumption, including being a fine vessel for homebrewed beer, a unique offering for water at the dinner table, or a reliable way to mix homemade salad dressing.
The beer appears exactly as it should. It is unbelievably hazy, a lemony-orange hue and is topped by a massive, Rocky Mountain-esque soft white head. The aroma quickly gives away its wheat origins and adds in some honey, bits of lemon, a nice hit of banana and soft spicing of coriander, nutmeg and touches of clove.
The first sip surprises me. It starts very soft, almost watery. But the esters slowly build through the middle and reach a cascade by the finish. Flavours of banana, clove, coriander, orange, lemon and clover honey. None of these ingredients are in the beer, you understand. They come from the yeast. Which is one of the wonders of hefeweizen.
I really appreciate the finish of this beer. It is varied and complex while retaining its summer refreshment. The start perplexes me. I was hoping for a bit more wheat character at first to mark the style. That said, I appreciate that this is an Ontario interpretation of a weissbier, so traditional rules need not apply.
And the key question: would I be happy drinking it on a patio? The answer is yes. Enough said. V
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