Tag Archives: Hefeweizen

Something’s Brewing in Peterborough

Very belated update: so I found this post that somehow managed to get lost in my drafts and never make it to publication … So, I am going to share it with you now with the caveat that Smithworks is now known as Smithhaven and they are no longer new to town lol. 

It is always great to see a new brewery set-up shop in your hometown. You, the always curious beer geek, gets the chance to try something new and the craft beer community gets just a little bit larger and a little bit more diverse. And if you are really lucky and very quiet someone somewhere will put down their Molson product and try craft beer for the first time.

Last week I visited Smithworks Brewing Company in my childhood hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. Smithworks is not located in the trendy(ish) downtown or in the gentrifying East City but unassumingly in a industrial part of town adjacent to the Lays Potato Chip factory.

From the outside the brewery is not much to write home about, a storefront in a brick plaza, but the tasting room inside is spacious, woody and adorned with all the requisite beer trappings i.e. Beer swag, a take-away fridge, a large bar and a smattering of ready-made food stuffs.

Chatting with the guy behind the bar I find out the brewer is Graham Smith and the brewery will be focusing solely on Belgian beer, not craft beers (ouch). The only beer currently being served and bottled is their hefeweizen.

When I hear a brewery is focusing on Belgian beer tiny alarm bells go off and my inner beer critic skeptically ponders why any sane person would try to out Belgian Belgium, I mean you are emulating beer royalty how can you ever hope to measure up?

But hey you gotta swing for the fences right?

The Smithworks hefe poured a nice straw gold colour with lots of white head and the familiar banana and clove nose. First few sips are nice, it is not too yeasty and the fruitiness is subtle without overpowering the beer. Light in body and clean on the finish. I only tried a taster so I can’t get into great detail but I have to say this hefe might be enough to win me back over!

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Basic German for Beer Geeks

Do you know your dunkels from you bocks? Do you want your Schwarzbier served kellerbier style? When should I start my Oktoberfest brewing? Do you want a lemon wedge with your weissbier? If you are not entirely sure what on earth I am on about please take time to enjoy this post is entirely devoted to some of the classic German beer styles and terminologies.

Beer Terminology

Kellerbier: The German equivalent of real ale. Kellerbiers are unfiltered version of house beers that are served fresh and cloudy. Tend to be more full-bodied than their filtered counterparts.

Beer Styles

Munich Dunkel: A descendant of the red beer, this is the first lager style and it may date back to the 16th century. Complex malts balanced with a very subtle hop presence and bitter roastiness. Dunkel means dark.

Maibock or Heller Bock: Originated in Einbeck, which is located in Southern Germany. There are descriptions of bock beer dating back to 1613 as found in The Herbal Book of Johannes Theodorus. By the 18th century the style was widespread in Southern Germany. Bock beer is characterized as rich and malty with a mild bitter finish.

Dark (Dunkel) Bock: A secondary form of bock beer that was popularized more recently by American brewers and homebrewers. The dark bock is also heavy on the malts but adds a roasted element for increased bitterness and a cocoa (or coffee) like finish.

Eisbock: A bock brewed using a process similar to the creation of ice wine. Eisbocks have high alcohol content and are characterized by rich malts and fruitiness. Eis translates to ice.

Doppelbock: First created in 1629 by monastic brewers in Munich. The Doppelbock is rich with caramel malts, very little hop and a slight roastiness on the finish. Doppel is double.

German Schwarzbier: Germany’s darkest beer brewed with a technique called ‘satz’ mashing, which soaks the mash in cold water and then boils hops in the thin mash. Full on roastiness with lots of malt and scant hop bitterness. Schwarz means black.

German Pilsner: Originated in Northen Germany and based on the popular Czech pilsner. The German Pilsner is crisp, malty and balanced with herbal hops. The Munich version of the Czech pilsner is known as Munchener Helles.

Dortmunder Export: A pale lager designed for export and brewed in Dortmund, Germany. This beer marks the shift towards industrialized brewing. Dortmunder is well-balanced, clean with mild hoppiness and caramel malts.

Oktoberfest: This term only applies to certain beers made in Munich proper. Generally this style of ale is brewed in March (Marzen). Flavour is marked by caramel malts, little to no hops and hints of toastiness. This style has been evolving to become paler and drier.

Dusseldorfer Altbier: Descends from a well-established tradition of brown top-fermented beers. Altbier is characterized by toffee malts, lots of herbal hops and a dry bitter finish. Alt translates to old.

Weissbier/Hefeweizen: A regional speciality of Bavaria in the 16th century. Brewed from wheat, the weissbier is creamy, highly carbonated, cloudy and fruity/spicy on the nose. Weiss means white, hefe is yeast and weizen translates to wheat. Variations include the Bavarian Dunkel Weizen, Weizenbock and Berliner Weiss.

Roggenbier: German beer brewed with rye that originated in Regensburg, Bavaria. This beer is grainy with a spicy rye flavour, moderate bitterness and even tartness. Roggen is rye.

Kolsch: Brewed exclusively in Cologne (Koln) following particular guidelines (North America appears to be exempt from this strict set of conditions). Kolsch beers are crisp and clean with fresh malt, fruit notes and subtle hop.

*Thanks to Randy Mosher’s (2009) Tasting Beer and the BJCP Style Guidelines (2008) for historical information and tasting notes.


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