Blind Leading the Blind is a beer blog collaboration between myself and the brilliantly bearded Canadian mastermind behind Brews & Bacon. For those that are new to this, our collaborative concept is simple – blind beer tasting. The basic outline is:
- we pick a beer style
- we buy five beers of that style for the other blogger to blind taste
- one of those beers will be a pre-determined ‘benchmark’ beer that we both blindly taste, to act as a baseline between our results
- another beer will be from a ‘faux craft’ or ‘amusingly crap’ brand, to a little levity and sniggering to the proceedings
- we then meet up and do the blind tasting, reveal our beers to one another, laugh, and post our findings on our blogs
For a more detailed outline of how we do this, check out the first post here.
It’s that time again, when I receive a text from Jason containing two simple words – DEADLINE TOMORROW. Which is my signal to finally begin typing up the notes for what has become my once-a-month blog post, Blind Leading the Blind. This month we’re drunkenly stumbling our way through some wheaty banana esters as we try to determine our favorite Hefeweizen.
This is a style that I like to think that I understand. Along with pale ales, this was one of the first styles that I was able to wrap my head around flavour wise – I quickly learnt to expect banana, bread, clove, and bubble gum. I was initially amazed by these flavours, and I felt like I could identify them pretty easily from the get go. This is still one of my go to styles these days, based both on the refreshing factor, and my ability to put apart the tastes within. So I’m going into this tasting with a little more confidence than usual (even though there are no wrong answers here!)
As you know by now, one of the rules of this whole blind tasting caper of ours is to purchase a ‘faux craft’ or ‘amusingly crap’ bottle of the chosen style. This was remarkably difficult for the Hefeweizen style – turns out none of those faux brands out there are really attempting this traditionally easy drinking style?! A small part of me thinks they’re missing out; a larger part of me says fuck’em, they miss out. That left me with having to choose an ‘amusingly crap’ Hefe instead, which was also pretty tricky. I ended up just choosing a foreign Hefe that I’d never heard of, hoping that it’d make Jason react in a way that made me laugh. Check out his version of events to see what I ended up getting him, and what he thought of them…after you read through my results, of course.
The benchmark beer for this round – everyone’s moustached favorite, the Burleigh Brewing Hef
Note: All five beers were sampled prior to the reveal, but for the ease of presenting the results I’ve revealed each beer after its own (relatively unedited) notes.
Cloudy (obviously) with not as much head as I was expecting. The yeast hasn’t been swirled through properly, which makes it kinda look like that cup of beer from American Pie (you know, THAT cup of beer). Smells a little ‘winey’. The taste is soft, and a tad watery. There’s something off about it. Definite banana in the beginning, but the finish ain’t good. The grain is trying to bring something to the flavour table, but it’s failing. It needs more effervescence to lift itself off my palate. I know how wanky that sounds, but it’s seriously just stuck there. I didn’t enjoy it, so it scores a little less than a middle score (since it’s the first beer of the set) with 4/10
Reveal – Burleigh Brewing Hef
Afterthought: disappointed with this result. It wasn’t terrible, but it did score a 4 for a reason – because I was positive that the other four beers had a good chance of beating it.
Better head, and a clearer body than the first – I can see bubbles this time! Stronger aroma, I smell molasses?! Much ‘fuller’ than I expected from a Hefe. The molasses follows into the taste as well. Very wheaty, and I’m now getting the smell of damp hay. It smells like a barnyard, but not a funky saison barnyard. There’s none of the ‘typical’ banana/bubble gum taste or aroma, very little sweetnes…but for some reason I don’t mind. There’s nothing offensive about this beer at all, and the whole barnyard thing appeals to me. A solid 6/10
Reveal – Schofferhofer
Afterthought: It’s hard to argue with the Germans. I mean, I don’t know their language, so it really is difficult to hold an argument with them. But I do know their beer, and this is a decent example of one right here.
Even clearer than the first two, and even more bubbles! This is a good sign. The head does leave a little to be desired though. The smell has the same molasses/barnyard thing happening, but this is playing second fiddle to something much sweeter. The first taste, of my god! The fruit in this is remarkable – I’m getting wild banana, the kind that you need to travel to the jungles of Papua New Guinea to find. I’m getting strawberry as well, and honey. There’s also some fresh wheat – it’s somewhere in between bread and cereal – that dries out the sweetness perfectly, finishing with the slight clove spice that I’ve been waiting for since beginning this tasting. This beer is a star, and scores a very deserved 9/10…and that’s only because I never really give out perfect 10’s
Reveal – White Lies Hefeweizen
Afterthought: I fucking love this beer! So fresh, so clean. I’ve heard many good things about White Lies, but this is the first brew of theirs that I’d tried. Everything I’ve heard seems to be right. This was amazing, and could seriously challenge for a spot in my top 5 for 2015. I can’t wait to try the rest of the range.
I’m sad when I smell this – only because it doesn’t smell like beer 3. It has the same colour and clarity as beer number 2. Doesn’t smell of much at all though. Then the taste reminds me of beer number 1, with the whole ‘something off about it’ thing happening. But there’s a fuller sweetness that raises it a little – actually, this is the first bubble gum I’ve noticed! There’s also a weak citrus, like what you’d expect in a crap pale ale. But these flavours all harmonize as it warms, turning it from an awkward beer that I don’t understand into something I rather enjoy. 6/10
Reveal – 4 Pines Hefeweizen
Afterthought: I initially couldn’t split this and the Schofferhofer, which is a credit to 4 Pines. Drawing with a legit German Hefe is a pretty good effort
This is the lightest colour of all by far, and it’s pretty hazy as well. Hardly getting any aroma, but what I am getting is very clovey. There’s a little lemon as well. Not a huge amount in the taste, but some definite banana and citrus is poking through. This is a fine beer, pretty damn approachable, but it doesn”t excite me all that much. Nothing really excites me after beer 3 though. It’s far more citrusy than the others. I’m seriously struggling with where to rate this – I’d easily drink a six-pack of it without even batting an eyelid. I guess that’s a good thing? Whatever, it gets a 7/10.
Reveal – Nail Hefeweizen – Wombat Wheat
Afterthought: I didn’t realize Nail made a Hefe? Or that they named it after a wombat?! Well done Nail, well done
I have two beers drawn on 6 points. Jason informs me that we can’t have a draw, so I need to do a hed to head showdown between the German gun Schofferhofer and the Aussie pride of 4 Pines Hefeweizen. Drinking them side by side, it’s still difficult to split. The Schofferhofer is more soild, but the 4 Pines is slightly more interesting. But the 4 Pines also started out quite poorly, which is why my extra half a point is going to the Germans – Schofferhofer now scores a 6.5/10
Results Wrap Up
- White Lies Hefeweizen (9/10)
- Nail Hefeweizen – Wombat Wheat (7/10)
- Schofferhofer Hefeweizen (6.5/10)
- 4 Pines Hefeweizen (6/10)
- Burleigh Brewing Hef (4/10)
So Queensland Hefeweizens have bookended these results! The new kid on the block, White Lies Brewing, has come up with an emphatic victory here – I’m seriously looking forward to trying this beer again, as well as the rest of the range. The pride of this victory is somewhat soured though, with the old faithful Bureligh Hef coming in at fifth place. It didn’t lose because it was bad really, it just couldn’t stack up to the other players involved. Overall this was my favourite tasting so far, with no really terrible brews involved.
For our next tasting we’re finally getting hoppy with some IPA goodness! I know, that’s exactly what I said last time, so you have absolutely no reason to trust me at all. So maybe I should say, next time we’re going to TRY to get hoppy with some IPA goodness. Or maybe we’ll do Porters instead. You better just check out the next post to find out.
Is there a Hefe that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below. If you missed the links to Jason’s version of this post, then here’s one last chance for you to head over to www.brewsandbacon.com now.