Beer of the Weekend #61: Tucher Helles Hefe Weizen

Well, I fucked up.

This weekend I planned to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my first BotW (yet another April holiday, though this one is quirky and personal). Tomorrow, April 25th, was the day. April 25th, April 25th, April 25th. The date had been marked in my conscience for the last two weeks. I started writing a retrospective of all the beer I drank and reviewed in the past year; yesterday I compiled a complete list of each brew and their respective grades, intending to finish and post the piece Saturday. Tonight at BevMo! I carefully considered my options and chose this weekend’s beer after a thorough deliberation because this was no normal BotW. This BotW was special.

When I got home I jokingly decided to check The Quiet Man archive to make sure I was right, make sure tomorrow really was the one-year mark. Well, I discovered it’s not. It was last Saturday.

Goddamnit! How could I have been so absentminded and careless? As meticulous as I am it boggles my mind I never thought to double-check the date in my head. Ugh. Whatever. It’s done and there’s nothing I can do but be one week late. So without further delay let me introduce the tardy, but thoughtfully chosen, celebration brew.

The beer this weekend is Tucher Helles Hefe Weizen brewed by the Brauerei Tucher Brau of Nuremburg, Germany.

Man, am I thirsty for hefeweizen. Truthfully, it’s not the ideal time of year or weather to drink hefe. Summer heat is the model hefeweizen drinking condition, and I wanted to hold out until the temperatures warmed and the calendar was turned to June before I began sampling hefes again. But this (last) week is (was) special, so I wanted to pay tribute to my first year of brew reviewing by recognizing its most surprising effect.

If it weren’t for my BotW tastings I may have never gone out on a limb and retried wheat beer. My last and only experience with the style had been bad enough to steer me away from hefeweizens for seven years, almost my entire drinking career. I don’t remember my exact reasoning that Friday, but I made a decision to give it another shot. I was older, wiser, and beer smarter than I was that night in 2001, so it deserved another chance. (It was that summer, if I remember right. My best friend and I shared a 16-ounce Summit Hefe Weizen, pouring equal amounts from the bottle into the Pabst steins we used at the time. We were in his parent’s basement, sitting at an arrangement of his family’s beat-up and retired living room furniture. On the coffee table in the middle were empty bottles and the PBR cooler we iced the beer in. We both took a few sips in silence, forming our opinions before announcing them. Finally I said the only thing I could think of: “This is really heavy.” The Mervgotti agreed. It was so heavy and thick for me that it took at least an hour to finish. After that the night was ruined; we couldn’t drink anymore. It felt like my blood had turned to bread.) I caught the distinct aroma when I poured the first glass later, and my stomach had a flashback. I thought, “Oh, fuck. What have I done?” I took a sip and the rest is history.

When I began reviewing beer over a year ago I adored oatmeal stout. I still love stout, still love dark beer, but it’s been supplanted by hefeweizen as my favorite style. That change is a testament to my willingness to stray from the norm, test and challenge myself, and try new things. I recommend everyone do the same, especially with beer.

On with the tasting.

Serving type: Six 16.9-ounce bottles (oh yeah!).

Appearance: Poured a lemonade-like, cloudy, dishwater yellow. Three fingers of thick foam developed at the top and settled to a less dense cap about a finger thick before it thinned to a lacing.

Smell: It smells like a beautiful summer day. A sweet mixture of apple and banana, and a squeeze of lemon adds zest. Floral and caramel malts are also present. A bread-like wheat also comes through.

Taste: Oh, sweet nectar! Tastes great, especially after not having a hefe since October. So great, in fact, I’m guzzling it, completely ignoring this review. The apple from the smell is more pronounced in the taste than the banana, and the squeeze of lemon is still in attendance. It is much more bread-like. Has a yeasty tail, which is a welcome variant to the normal hops tingle that usually trails my tastings.

Drinkability: The hefeweizen style is unrivaled in drinkability, in my opinion. It’s not even hot out and it still hits the spot. I’m being biased, but Tucher Helles Hefe Weizen will do the job regardless.

Fun facts about THHW:

-Serving temperature: 40-45°F.

-Alcohol content: 5.35 percent ABV.

-Food pairings: BA recommends, in its vague way, “German” cuisine, tangy cheeses (like Brick, Edam, and Feta), “General (Salad),” and “Meat (Poultry, Fish, Shellfish).” Brick, for those of you who have never had it, is THE SHIZZNIT! My grandpa, a milk trucker and former cheese maker (a true Wisconsinite, through and through), would give us blocks of Grande brand Brick when he hauled for the company. Wrapped in a waxy plastic with the ends tied by a thick iron staple, the blocks weighed about three pounds, and I’m not exaggerating when I say the whole thing was gone within a week. It was so good. My dad cut it as thin as if it were put through a meat slicer, and each piece melted in our mouths.

-I learned this week there is another, more unique way to pour hefeweizen. Most hefe drinkers use the tipped glass method, where the beer is poured slowly in a weissbier glass tipped almost on its side and gradually raised to vertical as it fills. But apparently bartenders in Germany prefer a more radical approach. They place the glass over the opened bottle, turn them over so the glass is on the bottom, then slowly raise the bottle, literally pulling the beer out as it transfers to the glass in a controlled manner. Apparently it’s much quicker. Here’s a video of the technique:

Also, here’s a robot doing it:

I love how it rolls the bottle to capture the remaining sediment at the bottom. I guess the Germans have nothing better to do than drink good beer and play with robots.

-I almost didn’t buy THHW tonight. I planned to, but when I got to BevMo! I noticed a thick layer of white caking the inside bottom of the bottle. I immediately suspected sedimentation. With hefes there is always a bit of sediment that settles to the bottom, but that much? No wonder THHW was on sale, I thought. I examined the bottles carefully, holding them up to the industrial lights high above the sales floor, to figure out exactly what the white layer was. I could think of no other explanation, and thought maybe the beer was ruined. I had placed six bottles in my basket but replaced them on the shelf. Then I stood in place, thinking, eyeing THHW and the other beer I thought of buying. This was the thorough deliberation I mentioned. Rather foolishly, I took the bottles of THHW and put them back in my basket, trying to reassure myself it was nothing, that the beer was fine. The beer, obviously, is fine, but I questioned my decision making until I poured the first glass.

-I think THHW may be profiled in my two beer books, but I don’t have them handy. They’re at my other apartment. Yep — you read right. I’m in the process of moving…again. My roommate and I are moving across the little courtyard to another, bigger unit in the building: Apartment 2. I’ve moved everything expect my bed, desk, computers, and essential everyday things. The only reason I’m still in Apartment 10 is because the fridge is here. No fridge means no beer (and also no bread). Tomorrow a brand new fridge is being delivered to the new apartment and I will finish transferring my things. A new fridge means one thing (if it’s sufficient, that is): Pabst bottles will be acquired soon.

The Quiet Man’s grade: A-.

Tomorrow night I will post my BotW@1 retrospective, which I’ve jokingly thought of as a “beerospective.”

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