Finally! I've been looking forward to this year's crop of hefeweizens and they are just beginning to appear, as if on cue, with the seasonal opening of our local beer gardens. Few beers usher in summer like hefeweizens. They are the perfect reward for enjoying the spring flowers and warmer days ahead. While their cloudy appearance can turn away beer drinkers who might think these beers look heavy and thick, don't be mistaken. They are refreshing and crisp.
What is it? Fargo Brothers Hefeweizen from Tyranena Brewing Company.
Style: A Bavarian-style weissbier characterized by its unfiltered, cloudy appearance. Hefeweizens can have a variety of spicy flavors, including cloves, vanilla, apple, banana, even bubblegum. Hefeweizens are made with more than 50% wheat malt. They typically have very low amounts of hoppiness.
The hefe prefix refers to yeast, while weizen means wheat. German beer traditionalists probably prefer the name Weissbier. In the U.S., these bright yellowish-orange colored beers are often served with a slice of lemon on the lip of the glass which some feel helps to cut the yeasty flavor and accentuate the crispness of the style.
Background: Tyranena owner and brewmaster Rob Larson makes Fargo Brothers Hefeweizen once a year, and he released his latest batch less than two weeks ago. Larson only makes a limited amount of this Bavarian-style hefeweizen, less than 325 cases (or 7,800 bottles for those counting). It's mainly distributed in the local area, and it is often gone from the shelves by July.
This beer is named after the "first family" of Lake Mills. The Fargo brothers arrived there in 1845 and quickly became leaders in the local commerce, with a dry goods store and the mills that helped provide Lake Mills with its name. The family's legacy is remembered to this day in the L.D. Fargo Library and the Fargo Mansion Bed and Breakfast, both in downtown Lake Mills.
- Aroma: Spicy, hints of cloves, grain and yeast.
- Appearance: Cloudy, bright yellow gold. Thick bubbly white head.
- Texture: Light, crisp, very bubbly.
- Taste: Solid crisp yeasty, fruity background.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Firm yeasty, cloves come into the flavor late.
Glassware: You'll want a tall weizen glass to show off this beer's beautiful color.
Pairs well with: Hefeweizens are light-bodied, crisp, bubbly and very effervescent. They are versatile, and surprisingly wonderful with basic fresh summer salads that go light on dressings. Hefeweizens also match well with picnic foods, like club sandwiches and BLTs. Because of their crisp, yeasty flavors they cleanse the palate well, so some mildly spicy dishes like Chinese and Mediterranean make for nice pairings.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: This is one of the area's most respectable hefeweizens. I really enjoy it for its aroma, its brilliant yellow-gold color and a firm yeasty backbone. It's a seasonal summer treat that I wish stayed around longer.