As a proud Queenslander I wanted to review a beer from a Queensland brewer this week to celebrate, somewhat patriotically, the opening game in the 2013 State of Origin Series. I had me some My Wife’s Bitter ready and waiting in the fridge but alas, Liam pulled rank and apparently already has dibs on a number of upcoming reviews for beers from the Burleigh Brewing Company (and probably for the best given Queensland’s disappointing result).
Anyway, in the interests of sharing the love I decided on reviewing this more ‘neutral’ brew from Victoria. Situated in one of Australia’s prominent wine regions, the Yarra Valley, the Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company boasts a restaurant and cellar door in the town of Yarra Glen where you can sample their seasonals, one-offs and regular brews.
The only one available at my local in Canberra however was the Hefeweizen so I’ve settled on that by default. Their version of the German style wheat ale, made with 50% wheat and 50% barley, is “… lightly bittered with noble hops grown in the Hallertau region of Bavaria.” It’s also bottle-conditioned which according to the label “… provides some prominent estery notes of cloves and vanilla.”
To smell, I immediately liken it to a Wit (Hef’s Belgian cousin). It’s got that strong citrus-y herbal smell of the likes of Hoegarden and Feral White. The cloves come through fairly heavily and there’s some sweet but very subtle banana notes but citrus is the predominant scent. Nevertheless, the smell is pretty complex and appealing; it’s just the right mix of sweet, sour/citrus and herbal notes.
It’s a light straw colour and only mildly cloudy. There’s also zero sediment which is surprising given the style so I’d hazard a guess it’s been filtered, and substantially so. My pour leaves a lot to be desired and as haphazard as it was there’s very little head to the beer. Disappointing considering my glassware is almost the correct shape for serving this style of beer.
To taste it’s quite herbal and grassy and there’s nowhere near as much sweetness as I was expecting from the smell. There are slight notes of banana on the fore but overall it lacks intensity until hitting the back palate where you get a smash of orange and again those subtle banana essences (blink and you’ll miss them). Finally, there’s an unexpected herbal bitterness – probably from the cloves – that hits you and the whole thing is a bit of mixture of characteristics of different wheat beer styles. It’s a very weird combination of flavours for me; kind of like eating a banana with orange juice squeezed all over it and some coriander and clove sprinkles. It’s probably a good thing the flavour is fairly subdued and doesn’t intensify until the finish.
It is nicely carbonated though and a generous amount of bubbles coat the tongue thickly. The mouthfeel I found similarly pleasant: smooth on the front and then mildly dry with a bit of bite on the back palate.
Overall, I found this beer more akin to its Belgian cousin than its German namesake; it’s got characteristics of both these wheat beer families but in my opinion leans towards the Belgian side of the scales.
- Genre: Germano
- Regionality: Yarra Glen, VIC
- Strength: 4.9%
- Rating: 1 / 3 taste + 1 / 2 ancillaries = 2 / 5
- Plus: The smell is complex and alluring
- Minus: It says it’s a Hefeweizen but my drinking experience showcased elements of a Hef, a Wit and a Kristallweizen. I’m confused.