Eric Asimov on Hefeweizen

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by dennis3951, Aug 31, 2012.

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  1. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,542) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    I apologize for just skimming the article and not reading carefully.

    Thank you for your patience with me.

  2. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,292) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Some more references to wheat beers served with lemon in Germany that predate US wheat beers and, in some cases, also predate Michael Jackson's quotes on the topic. In reverse chronological order:

    frazbri likes this.
  3. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Just dug out the Classic Beer Style Series German Wheat Beer by Eric Warner, a terrific book on the subject at hand -- whether you're a brewer, home-brewer, or just drinker.

    Not a row-starter, just another addition to the bibliography. Maybe a difference being that this source is a brewer with a degree from Weihenstephan.
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  4. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I like how this quote qualifies with, "Southern Germans..." Sort of insinuating that the author isn't southern German -- and probably doesn't have any interest in the traditions of Southern Germany. I once heard that the Northern Germans only liked Southern Germany for one reason, it kept them separated from Austria! :wink:

    Warner's comments, as someone who has lived the life in the world we're talking about, makes me wonder about the people who tell others that it's common for a lemon to be served in a Weizen in Germany (and no, I'm not directing this at Jess in any way).

    As Warner points out, Kristall often gets a lemon, and most often in Austria. I have to wonder if some of the other quotes aren't from people who didn't understand the difference between Hefe and Kristall -- or may have also been erroneously lumping all regions together.

    Eugene Fodor? :grinning:
  5. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (837) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    This board can't seem to resolve what "steam beer" is so i doubt this can be resolved either! lol
    steveh likes this.
  6. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Hah!! So true!
  7. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,190) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Eric Warner's legacy is still in the beer world. He's the old Tabernash brewer and a Weihenstephan grad. A version of his recipe lives on as Left Hand Haystack Wheat and I believe he was the guy who trained Bill Eye (from Dry Dock and Prost) as well.
  8. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Ugh -- have I missed something? Has Eric passed?
  9. BobZ

    BobZ Zealot (508) Jun 24, 2009 Massachusetts

    I don't love any fruit in my beer, but I do love jesskidden's command of the facts!

    Also, love the Enola Gay reference, cheers to Paul Tibbets and crew!
  10. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    And thanks to Paul Tibbets mother for having such an iconic name.
  11. Letley

    Letley Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2012

    I lived in Germany for a few years in the '90s, and was only offered lemon with hefeweizen up in Berlin — never in any other part of the country. I don't recall ever seeing Germans drink it with lemon anywhere other than Berlin, either. I did see lemon with Kristallweizens. I kinda liked Radlers. Once in a great while I'll drink weissbier with a slice here in the U.S., but I could never bring myself to take it that way in Germany.
  12. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    I have heard people say that lemon served in weizen in Germany is either just for kristalweizen or hefeweizen when served in the summer months.

    I like a little lemon with a so-so hefeweizen to help perk it up (after pastuerization and 6+ months after bottling which is a common age for them to be available here in the states, they get kind of dull). Just rubbed around the rim and/or a small squeeze is enough - if it turns acidic and one dimensional, you probably added too much. I understand the nature of doing so will likely kill the head, but that's the price you pay - I have added rice kernals as well and they help the head stick around.

    Lemon also helps to cover/lessen some strong phenolics (which many US attempts seem to be tilted towards) or some that may be a little "off" - plasticy, burnt electrical type flavors, etc. Hefeweizen yeasts are quite finicky and takes some finesse and good temperature control to get exactly what you want out of them - I would guess that this is probably the origin of the lemon - useful for making off batches drinkable.
  13. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Why would there be a debate on whether a regional beer tradition and the style it's based upon qualifies as "good beer."
  14. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Because some don't like the beer? I don't know. Just telling my experiences, I've enjoyed Berliner Weiß in the past, but others pull a face when I mention the traditional additives.
  15. PancakeMcWaffles

    PancakeMcWaffles Initiate (0) Jun 15, 2012 Germany

    I really think it's:
    A) A cultural and traditional thing
    B) A thing that is necessary
    both together aswell!
    I'd say that the culture and tradition thing is like "Everybody does it for years now, so we do to." I have never never never seen a Berliner Weisse been served without getting asked what Syrup you want. And I have to be honest, without the syrup it is indeed really tart which can be a major throw-off. We come to the necessary part here, you ideally want to balance out the tartness with the sweet fruity/herbal syrups.

    On a regular Weizen/Hefeweizen I have never ever been asked of I want a lemon or rice in it, so you easily get the idea that that's not the right way. Now, some american tourists may have experienced the lemon part being done somewhere, they picked it up as "the way to do it", simply because they haven't seen it done differently. The necessary-part plays a role here too, does (Hefe-)Weizen need something balanced out? I don't think so!

    That's my thoughts on the syrup-thing. Habits evolve through tradition and those habits may have become a tradition because they are necessary.
  16. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    But surely a brewmaster, rather than the general public, should be able to understand that just because they don't like a style of beer that doesn't mean its "bad."
  17. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    You're debating me over an opinion that is not mine, just one I reported. Not going to psychoanalyze discussions I've had in the past -- and don't necessarily agree with.
  18. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Sorry, not trying to debate. More an expression of surprise that professional brewers would hold those kinds of opinions. It's just hard for me to understand that kind of viewpoint. I apologize if I came across as confrontational.
  19. TMoney2591

    TMoney2591 Poo-Bah (6,766) Apr 21, 2009 Illinois

    Just to muddy the waters a little bit, here's a small anecdote from my brief sojourn in Bavaria/Austria in 2000: I was seeing the sights of Regensburg with my host, and we stopped for a drink at a small biergarten in the shadow of the dom. My host ordered me a weissbier (honestly not sure what type...) and one for himself as well. Both were served to us with a slice of lemon. I had heard/seen mentions of such things (I was only fourteen at the time, so I had yet to partake personally), so I thought nothing of it. I then watched him wring the juice into the beer and aped him. Didn't taste half bad, as I remember it. And, though I can't remember the whole order in detail, but I do remember not hearing him ask for the lemon specifically.

    So, yeah, varying mileages and all that...
  20. PancakeMcWaffles

    PancakeMcWaffles Initiate (0) Jun 15, 2012 Germany

    I've found an article regarding the "lemon slice" topic, published by a german magazine, the text seems to come from Franziskaner. It's on german, I'll do my best to translate it:
    Got that from something called "Der Franz - Das Magazin für Freizeit, Genuss und Geselligkeit". I hope my translation makes sense to you :grinning: And maybe that statement brings some clarity to the whole mystery.
  21. brewbetter

    brewbetter Initiate (0) Jun 2, 2012 Nauru

    I do not like Hefeweizens, but I support the idea that it's fine to drink before noon.
  22. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Was it Hefeweizen or Krystalweizen (knowing full well that you may not be able to recall)? Krystal (filtered clear) are often offered with a lemon.
  23. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Do you have a date on the article? And sources they may be quoting?
  24. TMoney2591

    TMoney2591 Poo-Bah (6,766) Apr 21, 2009 Illinois

    Although my memory is probably even more so, I seem to remember them being a sort of hazy tawny, leading me to beliee they were hefs...but, again, I could be mistaken...
  25. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (526) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    "At the Hof Brauhaus, in Munich, I have seen from four to five hundred persons taking their evening draught - brown beer on one side of the house; white beer, with a slice of lemon in each tankard, on the other."
    Glasgow Herald - Saturday 24 October 1868, page 3.

    It's part of a report of a British traveller to Germany. Most of the article is about how much better the train service and station buffets are in continental Europe.
  26. PancakeMcWaffles

    PancakeMcWaffles Initiate (0) Jun 15, 2012 Germany

    As I said, it's from a little magazine called "Der Franz", says it's issue #3, August 2012.
    Here's a website for that thing: (All on german though!)
    The stuff around the article implies that "Karl Schiffner" has written it, no further sources though, says that he's a beersommelier on that page.
    Edit: found the original article on the website: http://derfranz.franziskaner-weissb...-abc/kommt-weissbier-tatsaechlich-aus-bayern/
  27. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    "brown beer on one side of the house; white beer, with a slice of lemon in each tankard, on the other."

    See, even then no one wanted to associate with the "white beer" drinkers who put fruit in their beer! :grinning:

    On the serious side, this seems to support Pancake's article about "the old days," but 1868? Didn't Weizen all but disappear for a century and then make a comeback in the mid 20th?

    Can we suppose that at the beginning of the comeback people remembered back to the old days and slopped on the fruit, then discovered that it wasn't needed due to the better ingredients and brewing methods?

    Maybe we're piecing a timeline together here...
  28. PancakeMcWaffles

    PancakeMcWaffles Initiate (0) Jun 15, 2012 Germany

    Regarding to the Oxford Companion to Beer Weizenbeer history dates back to almost 6000 years ago. The modern Weizens date back to 12th and 13th century in Bohemia, it "spilled" over to bavaria. In 1520 the Degenberg Family obtained the exclusive right to brew Weizenbier. In 1567 Duke Albrecht V. outlawed wheat beer making. In 1602 Hans Sigmund Degenberg died withouth leaving a heir, the right to make wheatbeer went to Duke Maximilian I., wheatbeer making turned into a monopoly for the dukes, every wheatbeer brewery was owned by the dukes. The monopoly lasted about 200 years until 1798 when other people received permission to brew wheat beer too. However, Weißbier was out of fashion (which was one reason that led up to the dukes selling permissions) and they were running losses. Not many breweries bought permissions though because the wheatbeer business didn't seem interesting for them regarding finances. In 1872 the dukes of bavaria sold their "license" to Georg Schneider I.. Weissbier sales were declining until the 1950s, in the 1960s the sales have rapidly gone up again.

    That should be a brief overview of the Weizenbierhistory :grinning: I have no timeline on the lemon-slice thing though, neither do I know how "bad" the Weizens were in the old days and if they needed a lemon-slice to be drinkable.
    The disappearing seems to be true, but I really didn't know that people started adding lemons that early.... :confused:
  29. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    You realize that's fast becoming the Wikepedia of beer info... :wink:

    Ask Ron his opinion of the accuracy involved (not that it's all wrong, but it's not always reliable).
  30. TMoney2591

    TMoney2591 Poo-Bah (6,766) Apr 21, 2009 Illinois

    Just to push this slight historiographical tangnt slightly further, are there any plans to compile what would amount to a more accurate, "shadow" Companion under the watchful eyes of the errata-spotters? Honestly, I recognize the Companion's short-comings and am interested to see if anything, for lack of a more tactful word, better is waiting in the wings... (This isn't necessarily directed at you, steveh: your post was just a nice launchpad for mine.)
  31. jeebeel

    jeebeel Initiate (179) Jun 17, 2003 Texas

    No, and he now brews for Karbach Brewing here in Houston:

    All his beers are great, and his weizen is made with the wit-like addition of coriander and orange peel. Maybe not traditional, but it is a delicious beer that is a constant in my beer fridge.
  32. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    There's a web site that's compiling all of the less-than-correct data, but I can't recall the URL right now -- someone ought to know it, probably Jess.
  33. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Thanks, Domingo and I discussed this offline and discovered Karbach too, but this thread had sort of gone dormant then so we didn't get a chance to readdress Eric.
  34. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

  35. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Once again I quote Warner:

    This is after Schneider made his deal for the Weißbier reign:

    *1939 to 1945, for those who aren't history buffs.
  36. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (723) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I know two things regarding the lemon wedge.

    1) Weihenstephan is the world's oldest brewery, and also happens to have the world's most highly regarded hefeweizen. I've never know this beer to be served with a lemon.

    2) I personally do not prefer a lemon wedge in my hefeweizen. The addition of it adds more lemon flavor than I prefer in a world class hefeweizen, and it destroys the head on my beer. Whether or not it was historically intended to be added, I'm all set.
  37. PancakeMcWaffles

    PancakeMcWaffles Initiate (0) Jun 15, 2012 Germany

    It probably is, but I like it as a reference book if you need some quick infos... And it had the "timeline" of Weizenbier (I don't know if that timeline is right or wrong, but it was easy to find :grinning:) available which helped me define "old days of Weizen" (timewise).
    We'd probably need some 200 year old bavarian dude who never had anything else than Hefeweizen to tell us about the lemon-slice-timeline :rolling_eyes:
    Cheers :grinning:
  38. pixieskid

    pixieskid Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2009 Germany

    Perpetuating the hype on that beer; I'm willing to bet that beer doesn't even come close to Weinstephaner, Ayinger, Paulaner, etc. on tap in Munich. But, still have yet to try it so...
  39. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,042) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I've seen 'em. :grinning:
  40. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Still lovin this thread. Sitting in my favourite pub in the minute where their own Octoberfest is kicking off next weekend. Kegs of Weihenstepthan hefe and drunkel , Aventinus , Hacker Pschorr hefe weisse are all on offer but the staff informs me there is no intention of a lemon option.
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