Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Hell


3.3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, USA - FEB 26, 2010
I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of hefeweizens and wheat beers in general, although I have discovered some very tasty beers of the style over the last year or so. Franziskanker Hefe-Weissebier is one of the lesser-known names when it comes to authentic German wheat beers. What’s odd is the beer is the only one of its kind that comes packaged in green bottles, and we all know the perils of green bottles, right?

I should disclaim this review by mentioning that the bottle I drank out of appeared to be old as a thick layer of yeast literally stuck to the bottom of bottle like pancake batter (despite the fact I gave the last 2 inches of liquid in the bottle a good swirl and shake before I poured them out). Still, I was quite surprised at just how well Franziskaner was able to perform given its inherent handicap.

APPEARANCE AND AROMA

Like most hefeweizens, this beer pours to a very hazy body of dark amber/light brown. I actually saw some big chunks of yeast floating around the edges which eventually settled to the bottom. However, I didn’t notice much carbonation. The head was surprisingly small at only two fingers tall and dissipated much faster than your average German hef.

Since this beer’s bottle is green it’s not surprising there was a noticeable skunky scent to the aroma, but it’s not nearly as bad as the more notorious offenders (i.e. Heineken). If you take a deep whiff you can detect some spices and a faint sweet scent as well. I just wish they had been stronger.

TASTE

Some people complain that hefeweizens, especially authentic German offerings, are “too spicy,” but beer geeks like me often find them to be complex and full of character. I think Franziskaner might work well as an introductory beer for those intimidated by the style since it’s actually rather mild. However, despite its low-key palate, it still manages to maintain the basic properties of a wheat beer of this type.

I did detect a slight banana and clove taste, but only on the finish. The initial mouthfeel is watery and mild with a faint sweetness. Perhaps I detect coriander and/or orange peel or maybe a general mélange of spices. Whatever it may be it’s noticeable, but again, rather mild. There’s also a slightly skunky taste, but it’s tolerable and doesn’t subtract from the overall palate.

DRINKABILITY

Lightweights often pooh-pooh the spiciness of beers like this, but they never acknowledge just how easy these beers are to drink. Since Franziskaner Hefe-Weissebier is much milder than your average German brew of the type, it’s actually quite impressive how high it rates in terms of drinkability.

The mouthfeel is extremely soft and yet a little thick so as not to be watery. There’s almost no noticeable carbonation, so it finishes extremely smooth and also makes it very refreshing. It was difficult for me not to chug this beer!

WEIGHT

Neither the bottle nor the brewer’s website indicates any statistics about this brew, but third-party sources say Franziskaner Hefe-Weissebier has a potency of only 5% ABV. I would certainly believe that since the mild body goes perfectly with a weight of this sort. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual numbers were lower since this beer drinks like an American macro “light” as it does not come close to overwhelming or filling up the drinker.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I always try to give the benefit of the doubt, so I believe it’s very possible Franziskaner Hefe-Weissebier is actually much closer to being a top-notch brew than it appeared to be. Since my bottle was old I know I didn’t get an accurate reflection of how this beer should really taste. But considering all it had going against it, I’d say it’s still a good beer since it’s tasty, smooth and light.

Grade: 7/10