IT’S been too long since I last enjoyed a Continental wheat beer. The last time I had ‘Naturtrüb’ naturally cloudy German-variety ‘Hefeweizen’ wheat beer, was straightforwardly wheaty Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier. What, then, will my next German, cloudy, wheat-beer be like? From the Bethnal Green Food Center in London’s East-End, here is a bottle of Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen.
First impressions? Efficient looking but characterless bottle and appearance. It’s definitely German
It has a neck label. Not that it says very much. It has a sort-of coat of arms, the words “Premium Weissbier” and a barcode. Never mind. I’m sure there’s be a proper description of the beer somewhere on it. On the front-label, perhaps?
No. There’s not much of a description on here, either. Just some basic details. Starting with the name and address of the brewer. For the curious, Scöfferhofer Weizenbier GMBH is from Frankfurt am Main.
Under that is a logo, if you can call it that, of Peter Schoffer von Gernsheim. An early printer who worked with Johannes Gutenberg, the Scöfferhofer brewery was apparently founded in his old home. Hands up, who wants their home turned into a brewery, when they’re gone?
Under the Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen name, is some writing that I can’t read or understand. If you can, or you can translate anything else on the bottle, do please leave a comment at the end of the post.
Down at the very bottom, are welcome words indeed. “Naturtrüb”, I think means ‘naturally cloudy’. Thanks to the person who told me that in a comment to one of my earlier posts. “Premium-Weissbier” has to be ‘Premium Wheat Beer’. And “Brewed And Bottled in Germany” is just good news however you read it.
So there wasn’t much of a description on the front-label. Surely, there’ll be a proper description of some kind on the back?
No. There really isn’t any kind of description. Or story. Or anything. Just a massive, multilingual block of ingredients lists and safety warnings, for nanny-state markets across the world.
Even looking carefully, there are only a handful of facts I can extract from the morass of text. The ingredients are water, barley malt, wheat malt, hops and yeast. All the right ingredients. Though I’d prefer if they mentioned which malts and hops they used. Even when the names mean nothing, I love it when the labels give that much extra detail.
Elsewhere, we discover the vital statistics. The bottle is your usual 500ml. Or 16.9 fl. oz. And with an alcoholic volume of 5%, it’s as average as the entire output of Hollywood over the past decade.
And that’s it. At least I thought it was, until I spotted in tiny writing, a web-address. That web address is www.schoefferhofer.de. It’s an annoying Flash-heavy website, with no English language section. Nevertheless, a few clicks and you start discovering more bottles that will make you wish you were in Frankfurt am Main.
With all of that out of the way, it’s time for the fun bit. What does Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen taste like? How different will it be to Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier? Will I like it and should you buy it? Considering my track record of loving cloudy wheat beers, it could be a foregone conclusion.
Yes, I still don’t have a proper wheat beer glass. But even in my British pint-glass, it looks good. It was easy to pour, too. No glugging, it went smoothly until the last bit, where it frothed up into the sight you can see in the photograph.
The colour is of straw. Cloudy, but clear enough to see the fizz. The head is a thick, lasting, white colour. I can hardly wait to start.
First though, what does Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen smell like? If you bought it hoping for that unmistakable, rich, malty smell, you’re in luck. If you’ve sniffed other European wheat beers, you know what it is. It’s not strong. Just gorgeously rich and sweet.
What does Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen taste like? The first gulp is not bad, but I’m greeted with more bitterness than expected. A few more sips, and I’m beginning to make sense of it. The bitterness was because I was trying to drink the head. Get down to the beer, and it’s much more like what you’d expect from a German wheat beer.
Being a straight-up wheat beer, there isn’t much in the way of flavour. Just an undercurrent of malty-wheatiness. A sweet and savoury sort of flavour, which drifts, easily, into the aftertaste. A taste which has a surprisingly lasting bitterness, and astringent character.
How different is it to the Franziskaner German wheat beer I tried a few months ago? Unexpectedly different. I was half expecting a re-run. Instead, Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen takes the same straightforward wheat beer path, but goes on a bitterer, less smooth and less wheaty route.
What am I enjoying about Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen? Astonishingly, less than I had been expecting. Maybe I’ve got a less-than-perfect bottle. But a few things are nagging me. On the credit side, however, there are pluses. Even if it is bitterer than other European wheat beers, compared to others, it’s well balanced. It’s easy to drink, which means the ingredients are good, and it’s well made. It’s different, too, which scores it marks for distinctiveness. Not too gassy either.
On the debit side, there are some issues. I’m starting to think my bottle has gone off. It doesn’t taste as good as I think it should. That bitterness is just too rough and odd tasting for it to be intentional. It’s also somewhat lacking in the flavour and taste department. Not sure if that’s intended or not. But more interestingness and complexity wouldn’t go amiss. Even the main taste of wheat is hard to pin down.
How can I sum up Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen? I’m left wondering if my bottle is a bad example, or if they’re all like this. Regular readers know how much I love wheat beer. So the roughness and off-notes were a surprise. If it’s supposed to be like this, then you’ll like it if you prefer your wheat beer to have an edge. If, like me, you love the smooth, rich, deliciousness of other wheat beers you’ve enjoyed, then try something else. Unless the one I bought was off, in which case, Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen is probably very good.
This puts me in a tricky situation with the rating. Do I rate lower and risk the wrath of people who love good examples. I’ll take the wait-and-see escape route, and leave a rating for another time, when I’ve tried more bottles of Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen.
What did you bottle of Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen taste like? Did you like it? Did I get an bad bottle or does it normally taste like this? Leave your comments, translations, opinions and places to buy, here in the comments.