Nashville Oktoberfest has come and gone for the year but that does not mean we have to stop talking about all things great German beer has to offer. Today, we want to dive into what that fantastic wheat beer you drank all weekend long at this year’s festival is all about. Yes, we are talking about the Hefeweizen. Well to start to understand this style of beer, you first have to understand the origin of its name. “Hefe” in German stands for yeast, and “Weizen” refers to wheat. So traditionally, a hefeweizen is an unfiltered wheat German beer that has yeast in it. This style of beer contains a significant amount of malted wheat during the fermentation process, giving the beer its light body and crispness.
In the German tradition of brewing the Hefeweizen, they are highly carbonated and pour a tad cloudy. This is caused by certain yeast strains and the proteins in wheat malt. This style beer tends to be on the lower end as far as alcohol content goes. The flavor profile and aroma of this style beer, which is also a product of the unique yeast strain it is fermented in, leans towards the fruitier side. When most classify this profile, they say they taste and smell an overwhelming amount of banana. This makes the Hefeweizen a great beer for the summertime. The crispness compliments the hot weather very nicely.
Hefeweizens are stable beers that are featured in many of the world’s Oktoberfest. This year at the Nashville Oktoberfest we the opportunity of showcasing Paulaner’s Hefeweizen, and it did not disappoint. The Hefeweizen did not make an appearance in the United States until the 19th century with the wave of German immigrants, but it had been around Germany since the 16th century. For a while, the style began to lose popularity with the rise in light lagers both in Germany and America. It saw a rise after World War II and has stuck around.
Oktoberfest is not the only place you will see this German-style beer being consumed. Many American craft breweries feature their own version of the Hefeweizen, although it is not necessarily the same as the traditional German style. When many American breweries ferment their Hefeweizen, they use a different yeast strain than what is found in the German ones. These yeasts are the same ones that are typically used to brew Stouts and even Pale ales. The Hefeweizen is a truly German beer and boy are we glad it made its way to America. Next time you are at your favorite brewery or craft brew spot, be sure to see if they have a Hefeweizen on tap, more than likely they will. If you find yourself in Nashville before the next Oktoberfest, there are a few options you can choose from to get your next Hefe. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed.