The Dark Side Brew Crew gathered last weekend for a blind taste test to determine the best hefeweizen in the ABQ metro area. Mrs. Solo and I hosted the event with Stoutmeister, E-Rock, Porter Pounder, and Brandon present from the original Crew. Only Shilling was absent due to his job. Brandon’s awesome girlfriend Taylor handled the pouring of the beers so as not to disrupt the blind taste test format for any Crew member.
This challenge was first conceived in late May during beer week. Mrs. Solo and I were intent on expanding our Dark Side beer challenges beyond our Super Bowl of Stouts and this year’s mini Irish Red challenge. Of the available summer seasonal brews we considered Pilsner and Kolsch before agreeing with the Crew that Hefeweizen was the ticket.
From our Duke City breweries we managed to acquire five distinct entrants which battled for supremacy on a lovely Sunday afternoon. Our challengers were as follows (in order of tasting): Cazuela’s Hefeweizen, Kaktus’ Bananaweizen, Chama River’s Hefe Nice Day!, Boxing Bear’s Hairy Mit Hefe, and La Cumbre’s A Slice of Hefen. We would have liked to have had a couple of other entrants (Bosque’s hefe would have been a contender), but sadly they were not available at the time of our challenge.
Our field of five ran the gauntlet of what one finds in a Hefeweizen — hints of banana, wheat, tart citrus, and yeasty goodness. We were 5-1 in our decision of a champion. With 92.5 out of a possible 120 points, Chama’s Hefe Nice Day! is our choice for best Hefe in ‘Burque. Second place goes to Boxing Bear with 85.5 points, third place to Cazuela’s with 81.5, fourth place to La Cumbre with 80, and fifth place to Kaktus with 52. (Take note on Kaktus’ low score, the keg blew halfway through filling the half-growler, so they had to change kegs. Perhaps batch #1 and #2 were a bit different, resulting in some strange flavors that we don’t normally associate with Kaktus’ beers. — Stoutmeister)
We rated each of these brews using the same criteria as our stout challenge: aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and finish. Our consensus was that Hefe Nice Day! had a good banana flavor with hints of clove, and a nice, thick mouthfeel to back up the also well-received aroma. I (Franz Solo) was impressed with the orange citrus aroma and the banana bread flavor of our champion.
This was a nice and strong field of hefeweizens which we thoroughly enjoyed. So until the next beer battle this fall (we’re hoping for Oktoberfests or pumpkin beers), grab a pint of local hefeweizen and enjoy!
— Franz Solo, Mrs. Solo, and the rest of the Crew