The Specs (pictured above, L – R): Hoyne Brewing Summer Haze Honey Hefe (5.1 per cent ABV, 650mL); Howe Sound Breweing King Heffe Imperial Hefeweizen (7.7 per cent ABV,1L); Russell Brewing White Rabbit Hoppy Hefeweizen (6 per cent, 650mL)
In journalism, the joke goes, three of something makes a trend. Spot three dudes with man buns? Trend. Three local residents cheesed off about sidewalks? Trend.
So, three hefes mean my drinking habits are a trend too, right? I’d agree — if all three of those beers had actually been hefeweizens. Yes, that’s right Bad Riders, there is a traitor in our fridges. Two of those beers are delightful takes on one of my most favourite summer styles and one of them is basically a honey wheat ale thing waiting to dash all your drinking-related hopes and dreams.
There are very few things I want from a hefeweizen. I like big, super bright banana flavours and sweetness in a not excessive amount. Maybe a little complexity to round things out, but I can be flexible on that.
Which is why I’m so perplexed by Hoyne’s Summer Haze, which doesn’t taste anything like I’d expect. As I implied above, it’s more honey and ale, nothing that particularly says hefeweizen to me.
OK, I figured, maybe I’m drinking this too chilled. But leaving a resealed bomber on the counter to come up to temperature is usually enough to release any flavours I’ve inadvertently ruined with my awful 60s-issue apartment icebox. Not so here.
I don’t think Summer Haze is a bad beer. Had I approached it on different terms I think I would have enjoyed it. But what the heart wants, the heart wants, and it turns out what I really wanted was White Rabbit.
Man, this is such a good beer. I didn’t think hops would contribute much to a hefeweizen, but it’s a bit like a sprinkling of salt over a dish. That little bitter citrus edge seems to define all those banana and clove flavours so much more. It’s the only beer where I really got the real, murky clove flavours so often advertised on bottle copy and rarely delivered for the less-trained (i.e.: my) palate.
There’s also an interesting haziness to the sweetness of this one — much in the same way eating a banana differs from chomping into an apple. Needless to say, I’ve already purchased more.
The one Kamloops-specific downside here? It’s not the easiest bottle to find. I’m only aware of one liquor store carrying it, and my last sweep of the government stores was no help.
Compare that to the final beer of this trio, King Heffy, which is pretty much everywhere now that summer beer season’s begun.
I didn’t find the King quite as complex as White Rabbit, but it does what I ask. The banana is bright, the sweetness just right. I think the wheat is a bit more pronounced here than in White Rabbit, and it’s not as smooth-tasting overall, but there’s a reason this big guy’s a liquor store staple. And, hey, who’s going to turn down a bottle with enough room to contain a third glass of that delicious summer nectar?