Mayerling is right; Sapporo is not a bad beer by any means, and it's gentle enough for beginners to imbibe easily. That's why I said its drinkability is its highlight. I believe that my local store has Kir'in, so I'll try to check it out sometime.
I already PMed Caeli with some rather expensive recommendations, but, as been said already, Hoegaarden and Blue Moon are both relatively inexpensive and widely-available brews that are subtle enough to easily be enjoyed. If you don't quite like the taste of Blue Moon, add a lemon or an orange. If you want to enjoy its intended subtleties untainted, forgo the fruit and sip it on its own. I wouldn't recommend Guinness to someone just starting to suckle on beer's wide bosom. Save that for once you've found a few that you enjoy and can bring yourself to try the darker varieties. Then again, Belgian Dark Ales are wonderful even for beginners (see Delirium Nocturnum, Raison D'Etre, Gulden Draak).
Imogen- Sorry! I'm trying to figure out who all wanted the link. I'll probably put it in my signature here soon enough. I'll send it to you now though.
Today's first beer is the Erdinger Hefeweizen
that Arhys recommended:
Brewed by:Erdinger Weissbräu
*Note that the Erdinger labels with Hefe-weizen are simply an American alias for the Erdinger Weissbier found in Europe. It's the same beer, just labeled differently.
Hefeweizen, roughly translated, means “wheat with yeast”, which is a fairly accurate profile of the beer considering that its malt is composed of at least, and often more than, 50% wheat (70% is usually the upper end of the scale). If ever you see the word “weizen” in a beer name, that simply means that wheat is a major part of its malt profile; however, it’s actually the yeast that gives Hefeweizens their unique flavor. Although the specific strain of yeast used varies by brewer, all impart an interesting flavor that is reminiscent of banana and cloves; sometimes, they have a bubble gum-like flavor as well. The undertone flavors generally tend to be rather dry and somewhat phenolic
(essentially, reminiscent of sanitizer, plastic, and band-aids; it’s a desired part of the flavor profile for this type of beer, but is often frowned upon in other types as a result of contamination). The unfiltered “hefe” (“With yeast”) part of the beer lends a cloudy appearance. Hefeweizens usually have between 4% to 7% alcohol by volume.
Poured from a 12oz bottle with Best Before 08-2010 on the back label.Appearance-
3.5 out of 5. Pours a cloudy yellow color with orange tinting in the interior and a two finger white head that is extremely fizzy; strangely, the head retention is rather short compared to most wheat beers. It leaves a little clumpy lacing around the sides of the glass and a thin layer on top of the beer itself. Even through the cloudy golden sea, carbonation bubbles can be seen happily swimming their way to the top.Smell-
3.5 out of 5. The smell of wheat is surprisingly light but definitely evident, as are the spicy hops. I smell more cloves than bananas in this particular brew, but the banana scent is still present. An undertone of green grapes seems to hover on the edge of the nose as well. It smells alright. Pretty mellow overall.Taste-
4 out of 5. I'm normally not a fan of Hefeweizens, but this one has broken the mold for me. The wheat initially mixes with the sweet malt then gives way to a mellow fruity flavor that is like cloves and grapes intermingling. Next is a subtle flavor that I swear is almost like banana cream, quickly replaced by subdued hops that finish out the swallow. The aftertaste is of wheat and yeast; interestingly, the phenolic undertones are noticeably absent.Mouthfeel-
4 out of 5. The body is fairly light and more wet than most Hefeweizens I've had. It is crisp, smooth, and sippable.
4 out of 5. This is a pretty damned good Hefeweizen. It's not strong or particularly remarkable as far as the style itself goes, but if you're in the mood for something drinkable that doesn't slap you with spicy banana-wheat, go for an Erdinger or three.
Overall, a B.
The iconic example of Hefeweizen beer is Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, so I intend to make it a priority to obtain that beer and review it as soon as possible.
Next up is Bohemia Clásica
Brewed by:Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, S.A. de C.V.
Monterrey (Nuevo León), Mexico
Style- German Pilsner
This beer has an interesting history. Although it is technically brewed in Mexico, a lot about the style screams German. It is a Pilsner, which is a very popular type of beer in Germany; in fact, Bohemia was the German town where this style got it start. Apparently, a significant number of Germans migrated to Mexico in the 1800's. Either they couldn't get used to the incessant siestas, or wild, tequila-driven donkey riding just didn't appeal to them, so they mostly went back home. In their wake, however, they left an indelible mark on Mexico's brewing industry that has led to the likes of Bohemia (a German Pilsner) and Dos Equis (a Vienna Lager), both brewed by the same company started in 1890. The company itself, Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, was started by a Mexican by the name of José Calderón, but he had instruction in the brewing style from a number of German benefactors.Appearance-
3.5 out of 5. Light, transparent straw yellow that is a lot like a clear version of the foil wrapped around the neck of the bottle. The one-finger white head was disappointingly short-lived but did leave a bit of sticky lacing around the sides. Plump carbonation bubbles amble up from the bottom.Smell-
3.5 out of 5. Don't allow this beer to warm up too much. At first, it opens up the flavors, but it ends up smelling like an old, rickety Mexican outhouse that Señora Sanchez forgot to clean for the past seventeen years; still, Bohemia smells great when it's cool. Sweet grainy malt and floral hops mingle with a bit of yeast.Taste-
4 out of 5. Sweet, bready malt initially hits the tongue, followed by a strange but pleasant menagerie of citrus and grain. The most remarkable part of this beer is the gentle undertone of vanilla and peach. It wasn't at all what I was expecting, but it's good nonetheless. Although the usual mild hop bitterness is there, the Saaz hops also contribute a slightly corn-like taste that would go well with tortillas.Mouthfeel-
4 out of 5. This beer is somewhat creamy but still thin overall. It's not nearly as watery as the Mexican piss-water known as Corona or its illegitimate half-brother, Sol.
4 out of 5. Better than most Mexican beers out there. I definitely recommend it if you're at a local Mexican joint and want a cerveza to accompany your meal, especially because it is balanced enough to compliment a plate full of spicy food. It's full enough to have with a meal, yet light enough to drink quite a few of. Skip the Sols and Tecates and Coronas, and have a Bohemia
Overall, a B.
Last up is Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen
Brewed by:Gordon Biersch Brewery
San Jose, California, United States
This is not my first experience with this beer. I did not like it before, but having had a European Hefeweizen against which to compare it, I figured it deserved another shot. According to the back label, "In Bavaria, a unique strain of wheat beer yeast produces an array of distinct flavor qualities typical of a true Hefeweizen: citrus, bubble gum, clove, and banana. Our Bavarian-style Hefeweizen is fermented with this exceptional strain. In accordance with the German purity law, this superior beer is brewed with a minimum of 50% malted wheat
". One note about Gordon Biersch; they tend to have brewery-restaurants scattered across the United States, so each individual brewer might make the beer a slightly different way. The California branch might do it differently than the Ohio brewery, which may in turn do it differently than the Virginia Beach brewery-restaurant. This review concerns the bottled Hefeweizen that is produced at their primary commercial brewery and bottling plant in San Jose, California.
Poured from a 12oz bottle, no freshness date provided, but there is a Born On date.Appearance-
3.5 out of 5. Very thickly-clouded, almost opaque orange with yellow around the edges. Pours with a decent one and a half-finger white head that dissipates fairly quickly and leaves a similarly decent bit of lacing around the sides and on top.Smell-
2.5 out of 5. This beer smells odd. It has all of the typical Hefeweizen scents of banana, clove, and bubblegum, yet it also has an oddly sour note. This is my fourth bottle of this beer this year, so it's definitely not an isolated incident or a case of tainted beer.Taste-
1.5 out of 5. That strangely sour note returns in the taste. It's almost as if someone squirted honey mustard into a sweaty jock-strap and let it stew in a hot locker room for a week. It really makes it difficult to enjoy the rest of the beer's flavors. Aside from that, there is a hint of sweet malt, fermented yeast, beer bread, and spicy rotten bananas. The hops are noticeably absent from the overall flavor profile.Mouthfeel-
3.5 out of 5. Rather heavy for a Hefeweizen. Carbonation is noticeable but not strong.Drinkability-
2 out of 5. This is the third time I've poured this beer down the sink drain. I'm a rather open-minded imbiber, but this beer is just terrible. Gordon Biersch needs to redesign the recipe for its Hefeweizen before I'll consider approaching it again. I recommend avoiding this beer.
Overall, a D.