Bottle Royale: Hopfenweisse

It had been a while since I ran a tasting night and with the new blog it’s an excellent excuse to get together. We decided that we’d do a blind tasting in order to add a bit of a challenge to this one and see which beers we really like. I’ve personally been a fan of the Hopfenweisse by Les Trois Mousquetaires for a long time, so facing it off with two other beers was going to be an interesting experiment.

So what is a Hopfenweisse?

Looking through the BJCP docs on beer styles, it appears that this hasn’t really been placed in it’s own category yet, so it’s best matching would be German-style Weissbier. There is a bit of a modification to the typical Weisse characteristics though, primarily the obvious presence of hops. In a typical Weisse the major smells are those estery bananas or phenolic cloves, and very little to no hop aromas. In the Hopfenweisse, those esters and phenols are still present, but there’s also a strong hop aroma. The beers are also bittered a lot more than your usual Weisse as well, though I’ve typically never found the bitterness to stand out that much. The strongest aspects of the hops I’ve noticed have been the aromas from late boil hop additions or dry hopping.

The Evaluation

IMG_7645

Tasting

Virginie volunteered to be the person who would run the blind tasting and put us to the test. The three beers were placed in front of us where we could take time to simply observe their visual properties. The first big thing we noticed was beer number two was much darker than the rest, secondly we noted the really strong head retention of the third beer.

This style of beer was a difficult one to do an effective tasting. There is so much going on in each beer that your palate got exhausted pretty quickly. Both beers #1 and #3 had strong hop characteristics, which was backed up by the fruity notes imparted by the yeast.

Beer #1 was enjoyable and definitely the easiest of the three to drink. It didn’t have a large amount of head retention, and had a moderate level of carbonation. The bitterness of this one really stood out, but was backed up by some wonderful banana notes.

Beer #2 wasn’t doing it for any of us, the smell was quite off and I didn’t find it enjoyable at all. Some of the first sips of it were alright, but that pleasantness wore of quite quickly. We all found that this was the least favourite of the beers we were tasting. I am not sure it was supposed to look that colour, so there small chance this could’ve been a packaging issue.

Beer #3 had detectable levels of the phenols and esters you’d see in a Hefeweizen. The banana notes were definitely the dominant participant, but it’s not like cloves weren’t there. This one also had the best head retention of the group that stuck around for a really long time. It was also extremely pleasing, we could’ve seen ourselves enjoying this on a patio (or perhaps a shady park) in the summertime.

Choosing a “winner” was extremely difficult because both beer #1 and beer #3 were stellar. I opted for #3 as my favourite of the because I found it a the mostĀ  interesting.

The Reveal

  1. Wag the Wolf – Beaus
  2. Tap 5 Meine Hopfenweisse – Schneider Weisse / Brooklyn Collab
  3. Hopfenweisse – Les Trois Mousquetaires

I was impressed with how LTM and Beaus were basically duking it out to in this tasting event we ran. It had also been a number of years since I’d had the Hopfenweisse from LTM and was impressed with how Beaus really gives them a run for their money.

We were really only disappointed with the Schneider / Brooklyn collab and really really hope that this was because of a packaging issue. I looked around at some review sites and it has decent ratings, so packaging could very much be the reason why. I intend on giving it another chance if I find out it’s on tap at one of the local craft beer bars in the city.

Have you had any of these? What are your thoughts on the style? Did we miss a good example of the style?

Let us know!

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About Chris

If there is a place that serves or sells beer I've never heard of, I'll find a way to get there. A fan of the humble Pale Ale, though always willing to try a pint of something new. I also enjoy brewing my own beers and love sharing the science of the beer making process.