Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hop City Lawn Chair Hefeweizen - By Rob Symes

**Hop City Brewing Co. launched a new beer last night and Rob Symes and I were there to sample it.  Rob, who has written here before, has kindly provided you with his thoughts.  Enjoy!**
(sorry for the quality of the pic)

By Rob Symes:
Yesterday I was fortunate to head down to the launch party for the new beer from Hop City - a craft brewery that has the backing of Moosehead. Late last year, Hop City debuted on the scene with Barking Squirrel Lager, a crisp and drinkable beer that instantly reminded me of a Creemore. While Barking Squirrel would not displace any of my craft favourites I'd take it in a heartbeat over the crap that's available in most bars. The announcement that the new brew would be a hefeweizen got my hopes up that this beer would eclipse its predecessor and become an option I'd consider on a regular basis. I love hefeweizens and their rich flavours of sweet banana, spicy clove and tangy wheat. After extensive tasting of hefes from three continents I can happily say that the local Denison's Weissbier is one of the best in the style. The flavour profile described by the brewery seemed to indicate good things and whetted my appetite:

"A true Bavarian style Hefeweizen with a deep golden colour and naturally cloudy appearance. A beautiful balance of exotic fruity and spicy notes followed by a crisp refreshing finish."

So how's the beer? Well firstly I should reveal that they've gone with the name: Lawn Chair "Classic" Weisse, and the tagline on the coasters reads "Grab a Chair". They've certainly got the whole retro summer look going on, and for a brewery whose website talks about beer not being about expensive ad campaigns, there's certainly some slick marketing and big money behind this one. I grabbed a couple pints over the course of the evening in the interests of you, dear readers. This is what you can expect from Lawn Chair:

 Pours a cloudy light orange with a finger of white head that soon dips to a film and then fizzles away to a collar, without leaving any lacing on the glass. The scented aroma is dominated by clove and grain, along with faint bubblegum notes. It’s a strain to pick out any banana, which on a scale of 1-10 is probably around a 2. The flavour is simple and clean, seemingly straddling the border between a hefeweizen and a Belgian-style witbier. There's certainly a pronounced wheat aspect, which provides a nice tang, and this is enhanced by lemon tones. A slight spiciness from the yeast results mostly in clove flavours. Perhaps the biggest defect with this beer is the carbonation, which seems excessively high and really retards the drink-ability. While hefeweizens invariably do have a high level of carbonation, the bubbles are often softer and provide a more pillowy and fuller mouthfeel, but in this case the end result is more prickly and aggressive.

A recent trend in the mainstream Canadian brewing industry has been the expansion of product lines to offer 'white' beers, which are essentially some form of bastardised belgian wit in the spirit of Hoegaarden. With a hefeweizen, Hop City seemed to be stepping slightly out of the box, and my initial thinking was that this would be a great way for non-craft drinkers to be exposed to one of brewing's greatest styles. However, the marked absence of banana flies in the face of expectations, and Lawn Chair Classic Weisse isn't really all that different to Rickards White, albeit a touch less sweet and a bit sharper.

While I think it has a great chance in the mainstream market, I don't think this will pull dedicated craft beer drinkers away from their favourites, as it struggles to match the quality levels of pre-existing offerings. Still, I think Hop City have a role to play in slowly increasing the acceptance of styles that deviate from the macro lager norm, and for that I applaud this effort.


sstackho said...

"Lawn Chair Classic Weisse isn't really all that different to Rickards White". And that's not necessarily a bad thing! My first hefeweizen in Germany 13 years ago is what opened my eyes to what beer could be, so I also applaud the "mainstreaming" of wheat beers in North America.

Anonymous said...

I personally prefer much less banana in my hefe's. Using the proper hefe yeast at around 63f makes for a great beer with a nice mix of clove and attenuated banana. At the end of the day though, I find it hard to get a good hefe in a bottle. Fresh on tap is the only way to go AFAIAC.

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