Summer is near, the temperature is beginning to soar, and I want to tell you what you should be drinking this season.
When it’s hot, a hefeweizen can really hit the spot. While the style calls for a generally lower-alcohol beer, it’s full of complex, partially sweet flavors thanks to its strong yeast profile that brings out flavors of bubblegum and banana. The finest hefeweizens carry the flavor all the way through and add something just a little extra, like baking spice (cloves, vanilla). Also, the word basically means “yeast wheat” in German, so the style begs for a cloudy, yeasty looking beer with a distinct wheat backbone.
Here in Texas we’re lucky to have, arguably, the best hefeweizen in America in Live Oak’s version. You can find that one most anywhere, and its combination of spicy and sweet notes is hard to beat. Here in Houston, we’ve had El Hefe, from Katy brewery No Label, around for a while.
Reviews of El Hefe (on various beer review websites) are all over the place, but the average call is that it showcases that bubblegum and banana tone but then falls off the cliff, a far-too “clean” and dry beer for a style that should be roundly socking you with beautiful sugary notes. Some reviews have been outright angry.
I won’t be angry, but I’ll say that El Hefe certainly lacks the depth necessary to be a go-to hefeweizen. Faint banana and bubblegum on the nose, and it’s the same up front when you taste it, but then it just washes away. Nothing remains, as if it’s a crisp lager. I really want a lot more out of it.
I’ve yet to spend a lot of time with other hefeweizens in the area. If you want me to try one, let me know and I’ll go after it. I’d love to taste something that gives Live Oak a run for its money.
Explanation of ratings: 9.5-10: as good as the best beer in America; 9-9.4: the best beer in Houston; 8-8.9: among the better beers in Houston; 7-7.9: really good beer; 6-6.9: try this beer at least once; 5-5.9: if you’re stuck, this won’t hurt; 3-4.9: among the lowest-quality beers in Houston; 0-2.9: as bad as the worst beer in America.