Friday, June 11, 2010
Our Beers of Summer: The Irony and the Ecstasy
The kids are out of school, the lawn mower is out of the garage, and the brewery is pumping out Hefeweizen and Kolsch… must be summer.
As the mercury reaches for the triple digits, we reach for the thirst quenching coolness of Summer Wheat and SommerBrau. Both are light and refreshingly effervescent with mysteriously deceptive hints of fruit bestowed by their imported German regional yeast strains. These fantastic fermented malt beverages define the concept of “lawnmower beer.”
The irony is that usually when you think of light and refreshing it’s lagers like the Golden Export or Southern Flyer that come to mind. Yet both of our beers of summer are made with special top fermenting yeast at warmer temperatures, not unlike the common craft brewing work horse yeast strains that start with “A” and rhyme with nail, principally producing IPA, and Stout and whose strong esters are not suited to subtlety.
We don’t filter out the yeast in the straw colored Summer Wheat. In fact, the hefe in Hefeweizen actually means yeast, while weizen is German for wheat, so it is literally “yeast-wheat.” We use over 50% malted wheat in the Hefeweizen or Summer Wheat , and 20% in the Kolsch or SommerBrau. The wheat has a distinctive flavor but is also high in protein which creates rich creamy foam. It is a head that holds the billowing bouquet of banana and cloves in the Hefeweizen, generated by the Bavarian yeast from Weihenstephan. When the Summer Wheat is fermenting the brewery smells like a banana truck rolled over on a Nicaraguan highway.
Our golden hued SommerBrau, is not quite so specific in it its delicately fruity aroma from a yeast that was smuggled out of a small brewery in Cologne, the home of the Kolsch style. When it is fermenting the brewery has the aromatic appeal of a cereal factory predominately responsible for fabricating “Fruit Loops.”
We serve the our Kolsch in the traditional straight sided glass called a “Stange,” which is German for rod or pole, albeit ours is on steroids being nearly 3 times the size of the Stange used in Cologne. Hefeweizen is also served in its own uniquely tall and narrow vessel that widens at the top to hold its incredible head.
These beers are the perfect compliments to our Caribbean themed spicy, salsa, and fruit filled fare of the summer menu, available from June 22nd to August 1st. And though they would never do it in Germany because the beer speaks for itself, this is America, so we will happily apply a lemon or orange to the side of the glass as an accoutrement. But we brewers tend to feel that anyone who orders fruit on the side of a beer would be the type of foppish dandy to use the word accoutrement.