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Hefeweizen (literally yeast-wheat)

German Hefeweizen glass

Germans have perfected the wheat beer style known as hefeweizen or sometime hefeweiss. Hefe means yeast and weizen means wheat, (weiss means white). This beer is cloudy due to the yeast that is still in suspension. If it's really yeasty, the light won't penetrate and bounces off thus nearly "white" and that's where that part of the name comes.

The characteristics of hefeweizen come from the basic ingredients of water, malt (barley and wheat), hops and yeast. The wheat for instance it chocked full of proteins which aid in head retention and some beers have a huge head! There aren't many if any specialty grains, so the beer is very light in color. The hops are always nobel hops like Tettnanger or Halletauer or derivatives of these. Finally the yeast is what makes this beer truly unique. yeast is phenol positive which means it creates phenols. In some beers medicine and plastic would be undesirable phenols, but in this case due to the presence of ferulic acid, the yeast will convert this into the characteristic clove flavor (4-vinyl guaiacol). The other notable flavor is banana! Really! The same ester (isoamyl acetate) found in the fruit can be coaxed out of yeast if done with the right temperature, mash profile, and pitch rate (amount of yeast you feed the wort).

Inventors Brewpub has a hefeweizen called "Ozaukee Wheat" and is typically around 5.0% ABV and 18 IBUs. It's quite authentic but served in our Willi Becher glass which is not. The traditional wheat beer glass is very tall and bulbous at the top, with plenty of space to hold the tall foamy head. Americans like to serve with a lemon wedge, unless a customer asks, we don't serve with a lemon because the citrus oils will affect the head and the glass. Besides, then you won't have a chance to appreciate the subtle banana and clove character.


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