Suregork Loves Beer

Beer Reviews, Homebrew, Rambling

Tasting the Amarillo Hefeweizen


  • Brewery: Sly Cat Homebrewery
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: Hefeweizen
  • ABV: 4.8 %
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: –
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • Not on RateBeer

I’ve been really bad at reviewing beers lately, with my previous review dating back a couple of months, so I though I’d write up some tasting notes on the Amarillo Hefeweizen we brewed in April as our first batch in our new premises. The batch didn’t turn out exactly as we hoped for, which I’ll come to later, but it is a nice thirst-quencher for the summer. I like the combination of new world hops and Hefeweizen yeast, and am surprised that more breweries out there don’t make these kinds of beers. This beer has been one of the only successful batches thus far this spring/summer, as a thick burnt trub layer formed around our heating element in the brew kettle as a result of this batch (a lot of protein in wheat), and we only realized this after brewing three other batches, great. We performed a thorough clean-up a couple of weeks ago though, and I’m happy to say that is seems to have helped, since I tasted a small sample of the Simcade Pale Ale brewed two weeks ago in connection with adding the dry hops to it, and it tasted awesome! Anyways, back to the review! This was brewed with Wheat, Pilsner and Munich malt, hopped with Amarillo and fermented with WLP380.

Amarillo Hefeweizen
The beer pours with a hazy golden-orange color, and a big fluffy white head is formed. The head collapses really quickly though, which is quite surprising, since there is a lot of wheat in the malt bill. I had the same problem the last time I tried to brew a Hefeweizen (the exact same malt bill), and am starting to wonder if the actual malt is to be blamed (I've used Viking Malt's products). This time we used a 15 minute protein break in the beginning of the mash, and it doesn't seemed to have helped (not sure if it has made matters worse). Otherwise, the appearance is quite typical for a Hefeweizen. Shame about the head though.
I'm usually not a big fan of Hefeweizens, mostly because I don't really like the banana-like aroma (caused by isoamyl acetate) that is usually present in them. The aroma of this beer however is quite nice, since the banana tones are not that pronounced, and instead there are some nice pineapple and orange (from the Amarillo hops) that dominate. The banana tones blend in nicely with the hoppy fruit tones, and the overall impression is really fruity (think Juicy Fruit). There are not many clove-tones (caused by 4-vinyl guaiacol), even though the WLP380 yeast strain is famous for them. There is a slight malty sweetness in the aroma as well, which adds to the fruity impression. Quite a nice aroma, but not exactly style-typical.
The initial flavours are malty, bready (sourdough bread), and somewhat sweet (some vague caramel tones). These flavours actually dominate, as the fruity tones from the aroma are much more subdued when the beer enters the mouth. There are still though some citrusy and pineapple-like hop tones hiding behind the malt, and the more I sip of this beer, the more they come forward. The finish is moderately bitter (slightly more than a typical Hefeweizen) and quite dry. There is a slight tartness in the flavor as well, and I'm not really sure where it is coming from. It has been here the whole time, and not become worse with aging, so I doubt it is a result of an infection. The flavours are not either very style-typical for a Hefeweizen, and overall they are a little on the light side. On the other hand, this makes it a really 'easy' beer and a great thirst-quencher. We fermented this beer quite cold (if I remember correctly around 16-17 C), which means the yeast produced less esters during fermentation, and the beer is cleaner than a typical Hefeweizen. For a summer beer this is great, for a fan of the style this is a bit watery.
The beer has a very light body and a moderate carbonation level. I'm very surprised that the body is so light, and I'm starting to suspect the protein break (during the protein break, wort proteins are hydrolyzed, resulting in less body-enhancing high molecular weight proteins in the beer). Probably won't be using protein breaks again when I'm mashing, as single infusion mashes have served me good. The light body makes this beer very easy to drink though, and the fruity hops and the slight tartness make it refreshing. The overall impression though is a watery beer.
Overall, I'm not really happy with this beer. The light body and flavours make this beer feel watery and very untypical for a Hefeweizen. The aroma is surprisingly nice though, and as a summer brew, it is very suitable. If I were to brew this again, I would get rid of the protein break during the mash, maybe add in some more specialty malts (maybe increase the munich or add melanoidin malt), and ferment with a slightly higher temperature to increase the esters and phenols. Don't be afraid to try the combination of new world hops (e.g. Amarillo, Citra, or even Nelson Sauvin) and Hefeweizen yeast, because i though that was one of the most successful aspects of this brew!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.