8th Wonder Weisstheimer – a German Hefeweizen Great for Summer
To me, hefeweizen is a quintessential summer beer. One of my favorite beer memories is sitting outside on a warm June afternoon at the vast Paulaner biergarten just outside Munich, my hand wrapped around a chilly tall glass of their signature hefeweizen with a slice of fresh lemon on the rim. This memory has become a personal benchmark for the cloudy style of wheat beer, and I have watched with particular interest whenever a Houston-area brewery takes a run at this classic German style.
Needless to say, I was excited when 8th Wonder announced a hefeweizen named Weisstheimer as the newest addition to their seasonal lineup. The name of the beer is a portmanteau of ‘Weissbier’ (German for ‘wheat beer’) and ‘Westheimer’, which I think means ‘ANOTHER red light?’, although I’m not really sure. Regardless, the speed with which I finished my Weisstheimer belies its roadway reference, and as a fan of the blue tile project, I especially like the label art.
So how does Weisstheimer stack up against my Munich memories? For my taste buds, an enjoyable hefeweizen is all about balance – banana esters and clove phenols, a slight lemony tang from the wheat malt and the yeast, bread-like flavors and aromas and a refreshing finish. All those flavors need to sing together like a choir. If one jumps out the entire experience gets a bit dissonant.
My first pour of 8th Wonder Weisstheimer had me a little worried, as it throws off some serious bubblegum in the nose. However, a few sips in and I was pleasantly surprised. The taste starts with a little of that Bubble-Yum, and then quickly moves into a nice banana flavor, clove spiciness and wheat tang. A sweet breadiness follows along with a crisp finish. I finished my can quickly on a hot Houston July afternoon. All those different flavor elements were nicely in balance, making for a quite enjoyable experience. I don’t think this beer needs a lemon squeeze, but that’s certainly not going to hurt anything about the flavor and might cut through that bubblegum aroma that threw me at first. It’s not surprising to me this new beer is already stacking up some hardware, having just tied for the Gold medal (with, ahem, another German standard, Weihenstephaner Heffweissbier) in the hefeweizen category at the US Open Beer Championships.
My only complaint is that I’ve had a hard time finding more of it. My usual haunts are always sold out. I’m hoping production increases enough so that I can stockpile some of this Cougar-made summer seasonal for my UH football tailgates this fall.