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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 24.0° F  Fog/Mist
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Beer Here: Hips Don't Lie Bavarian-Style Weissbier from Lucette Brewing
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Credit:Kristian Knutsen

Any guy can give his sweetheart a bouquet, but to create a beer for her that's made with roses? Now that's true love! Hips Don't Lie, a hefeweizen from Lucette Brewing, combines the floral essence of roses and honey for a unique take on a German wheat beer. It's a unique display of affection from a brewery named in tribute to a fabled romance.

What is it? Hips Don't Lie Bavarian-Style Weissbier from Lucette Brewing of Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Style: The unfiltered Bavarian-style hefeweizen is cloudy with a pale straw to golden color. That cloudiness can be deceiving, though, as these beers are actually light-bodied and bubbly. Hefeweizens may have a variety of spicy accents like clove, vanilla, apple, banana, and even bubblegum. The style is characterized by being made with more than 50% wheat malt, and typically has very low amounts of hoppiness. These beers typically range in alcohol content from 4.9%-5.5% ABV.

In the name, the "hefe" prefix refers to yeast, while "weizen" means wheat. This style is also referred to as a "weissbier," which simply means "white beer," also a reference to the wheat content.

Background: Lucette Brewing opened in October 2010 on the southern edge of Menomonie, which is located about 25 miles west of Eau Claire. It's based in a small building on the west side of the Red Cedar River and next to the Red Cedar State Trail. The brewery was founded by Mike Wilson and Tim Schletty, Minnesota natives who met while working in beer distribution and retail sales in the Menomonie area. Logging and lumber are part of western Wisconsin's history, so the lore of Paul Bunyan figures into the name of the brewery. According to the legend, Lucette was Paul's sweetheart.

Hips Don't Lie was created by assistant brewer Eric Rykal, who developed the recipe as a beer for his wife. "He wanted something that was different, sessionable and crisp, so he brewed it as a homebrew," says Wilson. When Rykal brought it into the brewery, Wilson says the reaction was "Wow! What is that?" The beer first appeared in Lucette's lineup late last summer and quickly became one of the year-round brews.

Hips Don't Lie qualifies as a hefeweizen due to the amount of wheat that goes into the grist. Its name reflects the additions of rose hips, which are the fruit of the rose plant. Wilson says they "add a nice touch of floral sweetness that complements the banana and clove flavors you get in the Bavarian wheat beer." He claims Lucette uses more rose hips to make this beer than any brewery in the nation.

Lucette uses hips from the dog rose for Hips Don't Lie, buying them in bulk from a South American spice company. These rose hips are placed in a grain bag and steeped like tea during the boiling stage of the brewing process.

Hips Don't Lie is also made with honey, about 3.5 gallons in each 30-barrel batch of beer. Lucette sources it from Honey Glow Farm, which is owned by John and Sheri Kohn, and located near Owen, Wisconsin, about fifty miles east of Eau Claire. The honey lends a light amount of sweetness and alcoholic strength. The beer finishes at 6.2% ABV. It is only lightly hopped with Columbus hops and ends up around 20 IBUs.

Hips Don't Lie is sold in six-packs of 16-ounce cans for $8-$10/each. It is occasionally available on draught around the Madison area at craft beer-focused establishments like the Old Fashioned and Malt House.

Lucette currently produces seven different beers. In addition to Hips Don't Lie, its other beers available locally in 16-ounce cans include Farmer's Daughter (spiced blonde ale) and Ride Again (American pale ale). Farmer's Daughter was Lucette's initial introduction to Madison last summer and is a regular tap beer at Dotty Dumpling's Dowry. It's the brewery's best seller, and accounts for nearly half of all sales.

"Madison is a no-brainer because it's a really supportive market for craft and Wisconsin brands," says Wilson. He self-distributes Lucette's beers locally, coming to Madison about once or twice a month to personally make deliveries at many local bars and liquor stores. It makes for a first-hand opportunity to learn more about the tastes of Madison beer drinkers.

"I can work with an account so they get to know me and our company," explains Wilson. "It's allows us to expose our brands in ways that allow for organic and sustainable growth in the future."

Lucette is positioning itself for some modest expansion of its products in Madison by mid-summer. The brewery made about 2,000 barrels of beer in 2013, and could double that number over 2014. Wilson isn't offering many details, only that an announcement on brewery expansion will be made in the next few months.

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Floral, as in the sweetness of roses. A light hint of yeastiness is behind that rose.
  • Appearance: Hazy, light copper in color, and a medium, soft, white-to-tan head.
  • Texture: Medium-bodied.
  • Taste: A light yeast-earthiness is up front. The sweeter floral rose tones really stand out and become stronger as the beer warms.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Light yeastiness, sweet fruitiness, and lingering floral tones. There is also a light dryness from the honey.

Glassware: The Weizen glass will show off the beer's bright, hazy copper color, with its inward taper near the lip focusing the floral aroma of the rose hips and the yeast toward the nose.

Pairs well with: The hefeweizen is ideal with cool summer salads and light sandwiches. The floral sweetness of Hips Don't Lie is also nice with mild cheese like brie and feta. However, hefeweizens can be just great all on their own on a hot summer day.

Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)

The Consensus: 84 (good) at BeerAdvocate and 32/35 (overall/style) at RateBeer.

The Verdict: Hips Don't Lie is a different take on a wheat beer. It's a bigger version of the traditional German hefeweizen with more body and strength at 6.2% ABV. Yet it's the honey and rose hips with their floral sweetness that make this brew distinctive. There are still the tell-tale characteristics of a hefeweizen with hints of banana and clove; however, the floral sweetness of rose is what stands out. As the beer warms, that sweetness and soft mouthfeel become more evident.

I'm a big fan of more traditional German wheats, so this beer took a little getting used to. I most enjoyed serving it very cold to bring out more of the yeasty-fruitiness and less outright sweetness from the rose hips and honey. For fans of wheat beers, Hips Don't Lie makes for an interesting and fun alternative when seeking out a new summer brew.

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