Sorry, Internet, I've been holding out on you. Weiss Blau Weiss Bavarian Hefeweizen, my experiment in simplicity that I brewed in June, has been pouring for over a week now, and I've had several pints of it already; but I haven't yet written about it. It's high time I did, so you can enjoy it vicariously as much as I've been enjoying it … well … the regular way.
It pours beautifully: a creamy golden color with a gleaming white head. It's cloudy, as a hefeweizen should be, and except for a little bit of floating sediment, it looks as good as any commercially brewed hefeweizen I've ever had. The sediment should clear up once I pour a few more pints off the keg. I did use Irish moss for this brew – as I do for most of my brews – but there are many who choose not to use kettle finings for hefeweizens, and it's possible this worked against me in that it precipitated more particles out to the bottom of the keg. But I'm sure it'll be fine in a few more pours.
The aroma is spectacular. Exactly what I wanted: lots of banana esters, a touch of the sweet, grainy aroma of crisp continental Pilsner malt, and the faintest whiff of clove spiciness. That's about it. No hops on the nose at all. Nothing confusing or muddling. You can tell instantly what ingredient created every single component of the olfactory signature of this beer.
The taste is good, too. It's light, of course, and perfect patio refreshment for my next summer brew session. The yeasty character doesn't lead in the flavor department the way I was hoping it would, not like it leads the aroma. I don't usually bother with that little slice of citrus that most brewheads outside of Bavaria are so fond of in their weizens, but I could see a lemon wedge adding something to this beer, just because it could use a bit more zing (sadly, I don't have any in the house). I don't blame the recipe for this little flaw, rather my fermentation temperature. Next time I make it, I'll ferment a couple of degrees higher for the first couple of days.
The mouthfeel is just right for a summer afternoon: refreshing, not too astringent. It goes down smooth and easy, and at 5.2% ABV is pretty session friendly.
So there you have it. Weiss Blau Weiss Bavarian Hefeweizen was an overall success, not despite its simple recipe but because of it. In fact, it seems to me that my efforts to introduce unnecessary complexity to the process – namely, using kettle finings and overchilling during fermentation – was the main thing that kept it from being (to me) a perfect beer. But that's okay; it's still plenty drinkable, and I'm sure I'll be emptying this keg pretty quickly … no complaints here, because I'd love to make it again. Can I make it even simpler next time? Probably not much so, but the lesson has been hammered home: one doesn't need a mile-long list of ingredients to make a damn good beer.
Of course, the Bavarians have been trying to tell us that for centuries.