The Brewery: Two Brothers Brewing Company
The Stats: 4.9% ABV, 12 IBU
The Story: Edelweiss is both a popular show tune from The Sound of Music as well as a white flower that grows in the high Alps in Europe. Ebel's Weiss, however, is a hefeweizen-style beer created by the Ebel Brothers (Jim and Jason Ebel) of Two Brothers Brewing fame. Founded in Warrenville, Illinois, in 1996, Two Brothers recently opened a brewpub right here in Scottsdale, making them a welcome new "local."
Today, we review both the bottled version that is in mass distribution, as well as the draft version from the local brewpub.
Aroma: Bananas, cloves, wheat bread, and holiday-cookie aromas are all present with a slight background hint of vanilla. The banana aroma is derived during the fermentation process, and is known as an "ester," while the clove aroma, also a yeast byproduct, is known as a "phenol." Many people new to craft beer think that actual bananas and cloves are used in the brewing of this style of beer, but that's not the case; it's the German yeast used to brew these beers that give the beer its signature character.
Appearance: Due to the high protein content of the wheat and the traditional method of not filtering a hefeweizen, the beer is left intentionally cloudy to retain all the wonderful characteristics that the yeast provides. It pours a hazy straw color, which is typical, though the bottled beer's foam stand did not last long – significantly less than the draft version. The hefeweizen style is known for usually having everlasting head retention.
Flavor: The banana and clove lead and dominate, in equal parts, and these flavors are supported by a fresh baked wheat bread flavor that's neither sweet nor sour. A slight tartness from the remaining yeast provides some balance to the malt sweetness and adds the slightest amount of hop bitterness. A subtle vanilla note provides a soft edge and pleasant character to the other flavors. Light on the palate and easy to enjoy in quantity, this makes for an excellent beer in the hot summer months.
Mouthfeel: Hefeweizens are traditionally carbonated very highly. The draft version was spot on, while the bottled version was only moderately carbonated, and because of that the effervescent qualities in the bottled version fell flat. To be fair, the bottle used for this review was past its code date (though just recently purchased), which could have played a role, whereas the draft version in the Scottsdale brewpub was fresh, effervescent, and simply delicious. If purchasing in a store, be sure to check your code dates before you head to the register.
Pairing: Pair Ebel's Weiss with seafood (preferably baked, boiled, or broiled, but not fried), salad, or key lime pie. If you are looking for a traditional German complement, pair with weisswurst.
Bottle vs. Draft: This wasn't even close. The bottle was past its prime, but having this beer fresh on tap in the Scottsdale brewpub was a wonderful experience. All the aromas and flavors were fresh and pronounced, the bubbles retained throughout, and the beer delivered on a true authentic hefeweizen experience.
Overall Impression: A hefeweizen can certainly be enjoyed year-round but definitely makes an outstanding summer offering due to its relatively low alcohol content and light effervescent qualities. Check out the Two Brothers Brewing Company website for more information on Ebel's Weiss or Two Brothers Brewing Company.