The Brewery: Sleepy Dog Brewing Company, Tempe, AZ
Sleepy Dog Brewing Company is a small craft brewery located at 1920 E. University Drive in Tempe. The brewery produces many different styles of beer onsite and cans of these offerings for those who want to enjoy Sleepy Dog brews without having to trek out to Tempe. The brewery is open five days a week (closed Sunday and Monday) for those do want to get the Sleepy Dog experience at the source.
Style: Hefeweizen is a traditional German ale, literally translating to "yeast wheat." And that's exactly what a hefeweizen is: a wheat beer that remains cloudy due to the presence of some yeast in the finished product. In a hefeweizen, the yeast provides the majority of the flavors and aromas, while the malt and hops basically provide a backbone and balance. Basically, with a hefeweizen, it's all about the yeast.
Aroma: Aromas of clove and banana, both yeast derived, lead the way with light wheat notes, akin to wheat bread, supporting. Noble-type hops — certain prized hops grown in and around Germany tend to be called "Noble" due to their much-sought-after flavors and aromas — provide a light floral essence. There's a tart essence in the aroma, as well.
Appearance: The beer is cloudy as expected from the high wheat content, but it does lack the typically everlasting foam of the hefeweizen style. In fact, the head died off completely just minutes after the pour. Parched Pooch has a muddy deep gold appearance, slightly dark for the style.
Flavor: Banana, citrus, and clove flavors lead amid some uncharacteristically tart wheat malt notes. Some tartness is appropriate, even encouraged, in this style, but the tartness here is too prevalent and distracting. Baked wheat bread notes backup the yeast notes while floral hop flavors seem a little strong for this usually delicate style. The bitterness also seems high for a hefeweizen, as bittering hops are usually only used to balance the sweetness of the malt, not to take on their own presence in the beer.
Overall Impression: The beer is fairly light bodied and finishes with a bite; partly from the carbonation but also from the hops. It drinks a little rough for what should be a smooth, easy drinking, warm-weather beer. By no means is the beer a dog, but it is not a classic example of a true German-style hefeweizen either.
For more information on Sleepy Dog Brewing Company, please check out sleepydogbrewing.com.
Dave Clark is a Certified Cicerone, Nationally-Ranked Beer Judge Certification Program Judge, and all-around beer geek .