Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Beer Review: Hefe wheat beer by Stewart Brewing

Stewart Brewing in Edinburgh are one of the champions of Scotland's breweries. Beers like Radical Road and Edinburgh Gold have become established classics, while their Craft Beer Kitchen has opened the brewery to new generations of homebrewers. The beer kitchen also, crucially, lets them experiment and develop new beers. Carrot and coriander anyone?

This time around they've revamped their traditional German-style hefeweizen beer, a style common on the continent but less so here in Scotland, where detractors are turned off by the style's distinctive phenolic and estery flavours. It also, to be fair, has its legions of fans.

Wheat beers are traditionally heavily carbonated and Stewart's Hefe (5.4%) is no different. It pours very lively indeed giving a thick foamy head. Hefe beers are bottled-conditioned so as well as a naturally cloudy glass you're going to get some yeast sediment.

Fittingly, this hefe (it means yeast by the way) opens with an aroma of phenol and esters - that pungent yeast smell typical of wheat beers. So, expect a good hit of cloves and tart citrus, as if you were sniffing a grapefruit while sitting in a dentist's waiting room. There's banana and an ozone freshness loitering there too.

An initial sour hit is briskly followed by a medium bitter and crisp finish, and long distinctively yeasty aftertaste. The clove/grapefruit combo is there, joined by a mild sweetness coming off the malt, bringing balance to the bitterness and helping to retain a graceful texture despite the carbonation - no gaseous belches like you get with some lagers. As the glass goes down, the character of the beer remains fairly constant, with the clove and banana ever-present and the citrus opening up to give you a touch of clementine and hard apricot.

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