Tag Archives: hefe

On the Rail: Baileys (Mill City Edition)

As I traveled to Bailey’s I was struck by a moment that I didn’t want to be alone with. I don’t have much choice in the matter, though so I continued forward with the moment, doing the work.

Of course, writing is work you do alone. Drinking can be done alone and enough drinking can be isolating. If you’re writing AND drinking the door is open to a double whammy on the nights that have moments that one may not want to be alone with. So I am not unfamiliar with the condition of solitude, there are just times when I wish it was a little farther away.

Then again, an acute sense of lonely is the worst reasons to find someone to be with. Healthy (or wise) people recognize that and behave accordingly. So it is tonight: I am better off sitting down, writing, observing, absorbing the scene than I am trying to make friends.

I think I’d like to do it with a better beer though. Mill City’s Zech Bavarian Hefe’s first sip gave me liquid banana. The third sip gave me banana sweetened by Bazooka Joe and something else, something unpleasant. It isn’t spicy and I don’t notice a clove element. It’s like a sweet pillow on the tongue and I’m not enjoying the way the feathers stick around.

I have a different beer, I write, I muck on my tablet. I admire the middle aged ladies out for a night, dressed to the nines chatting up men half their age, the couple making friends with another couple because of table proximity, the lone wolf, standing at a table near the entrance, the woman in the Front 242 tshirt reading her book. It may be a tough day to be alone but it isn’t a bad day to be at the pub.

Ordinary Brews: Widmer Hefe

To start this series off, I wanted to begin with one of the most well known ales one can find in this area: Widmer’s Hefeweisen. I didn’t want to assume that this was their best selling beer so I emailed them to ask but didn’t hear back. I went with it anyway: if someone from Widmer wants to correct me, I’ll drink another beer. Promise.

The nose has a faint stinkiness to it; belgian yeast funky, almost. It went away almost immediately but then it reappeared as I drank further into the glass. I’m told by the guidelines there ought to be wheat notes, with maybe some spice hop character but I’m not picking it up.

The beer doesn’t really provide dominant flavors at any stage of the game, actually. Nose isn’t too strong, the wheat notes exist but I think the wheat malt is there more to provide some body. The finish is fairly clean until the effervescence passes and then there’s something sticking around that just isn’t appealing to me.

I’ve realized what it is: this beer is sweet. You know that sourish note that can come after you have a really sweet piece of chocolate? That’s what I’ve got.

I think that this hefe really isn’t an ‘all season’ brew for me. I can see this working on a hotter day, and I totally get why people serve this beer with lemon; the tart contrasts well with the sweetness of the malt. The lemon also contributes to the ‘summery’ feel of hefeweizen.

I don’t think I’d get more of this beer because I don’t know that I’m in love with this iteration of the style. I don’t hate hefes but I don’t think; Yay, gimme! That’s me, not an issue with the beer. The fact that it’s overly sweet is far more problematic. If I’m only supposed to have this beer with a lemon wedge for contrast, I’m not sure that I can recommend it. I feel like the sweetness that’s probably there to encourage the casual craft beer drinker is actually discouraging me from enjoying it, which is a strange spot to be  in.  I don’t want to suggest that my tastes are better than the average bloke’s but I cannot deny that the imbalance of this beer is off-putting to me.

Fortunately, Widmer makes a ton of other stuff that I do like; it’s just an interesting spot to find myself in.

7pm To Your Health

I arrive at my destination a little late, the result of a touch too much excitement at the card shop. It’s alright; I know some people at a table on the right and there’s a game in progress so I can stroll on up for my beer, if you will. I decide (after a horrific sampling of Gilgamesh’s Cranberry Saison, truly an affront to liquid everywhere) upon Leavenworth’s Whistling Pig Hefe.

leavenworth hefe

And that’s when I see Sparky. Back when I was doing the 52 Weeks theme, I saw him all the time; big dude with a beard to make ZZ Top envious and John Lennon sunglasses, he seemed like one of those men who was probably pretty low key in most areas of his life, but at a social place like a bar flourished. He likes beer, conversation, is pretty damn smart and affable: what’s not to dig on? A rarity at Bailey’s; he doesn’t seem to care so much about which beer he’s drinking, so long as it’s good and the staff have figured out his tastes (IPAs, for the most part.)

So I over to say hi and catch up. He tells me about his job, which is going well, so well that he was able to visit a dentist to get a bunch of work done, and a doctor for the first time in seven years. The nurse checks his blood pressure. Then a doctor (and my eyebrows go up.) Then another doctor (‘oh, shit’.) THEN an E.K.G. machine.

‘Holy christ, dude!’

“Yeah,” he chuckles, “turns out my BP was 180/10 and I didn’t know what that meant at the time but it turns out they thought I was having a heart attack on the spot.”

‘But you’re…’ I gesture to him

“Oh yeah,” he says, waving it off, “I wouldn’t be telling you about it if everything wasn’t kosher. I’m just one of those dudes who’s prone to hypertension. Some meds, and I’m alright.”


So I tell him what’s going on with me (moving, etc), he reassures me that in “six months, when all the piddly shit is done, you’ll love it,” which is good to know.

To your health, sir; may you keep it long.

Revisiting: Widmer Hefeweizen

The first time I ever had Widmer’s hefe was about twenty years ago in a bar in Spokane called Ichabod’s. I couldn’t believe I was having a beer with lemon on the side; That Just Seemed Wrong. The bar has since burned down, the owner convicted of arson, I believe, just as my notions of What Seems Wrong with a beer have also changed.

Though I still oppose a fruit side, I won’t let that prevent me from enjoying a good beer.

With the move and my current supplies of homebrew rapidly dwindling, I am compelled to purchase beer and so instead of wondering why the gods kill, I instead have decided to use this opportunity to go back, check out the beers that I cut my teeth on and helped introduce me (and many others) to the world of microbrewing.

Widmer hefeThe nose is faintly skunky, a little like a lager might be. The middle isn’t thin; the wheat presence holds it together for certain and the finish is actually fairly dry, a bit like white wine. I can totally see how this may have been designed to have a lemon added, as the citrus could play off the wheat balance and then mesh with the dry finish.

Still, I can’t quite enjoy this beer. I feel like it ought to be bolder, stand firmer. I shouldn’t think: wow, I get putting a lemon in this beer!

Beer isn’t ice cream-better with additives. Beer is steak: you do it right, you can have it on its own. I guess that hasn’t really changed for me.

Verdict: not something I’ll go back to very often.

The waystop just got better

When I was younger, my family often took road trips to Seattle. En route we would usually stop at Ellensburg to refuel the car and stretch our legs, occasionally hitting a fast food joint for lunch before moving on. This is what people knew Ellensburg for; a city you passed through to go somewhere else.

Iron Horse bottlesThe Iron Horse Brewery is going to change all that for those who love the pints, if it hasn’t already.

The High Five Hefe has a honey tint that is just delicious. The nose doesn’t betray any sweetness, so the flavor comes as a real surprise. Instead, the nose is doughy and almost a touch sour, like celery. A surprising beer for me, because I find many hefes to be uninteresting but this beer was complex and tasted great.

The Quilter’s Irish Death however was the hit of the party for me. A real eye-opener because it says it’s a dark ale and as a general rule I don’t like dark ales. But this beer has a velvety quality to it, almost like a stout, but without the density of stouts or the bitterness that a stout or porter ought to have. I really, really liked this brew a lot and recommend it.

Or, I would if I could find the beer. Ellensburg is probably four hours north from me and I have the damnedest time finding Iron Horse’s beers in my vicinity. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to get beers from smaller breweries in Washington, or beers from Vancouver, Canada in Portland but my searches are frequently fruitless and in the case of Iron Horse that’s a shame, because people ought to know how good this stuff is. Fuz can find them but apparently it’s much more difficult to get beers to Portland than Tacoma.

That sentence should never have to be written in a just world.