Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

kellerweisThe beer guy at Whole Foods sold me on the Sierra Nevada Kellerweis with a pretty simple 3-word review.  “It’s stupid good.”

Now, regardless of what you think is an appropriate way to recommend a beer to a customer, the 3 words were all it took for me to pick up a six-pack.  “Stupid good” must mean really good, right?  Just like bad means good and wicked means very?

Sierra Nevada is a craft brewery that needs little introduction.  Opened in 1980, Sierra Nevada is one of the oldest, largest and most popular craft breweries in the country.  Along with the ludicrously popular flagship Pale Ale, the Chico,  CA institution brews an award-winning stable of seasonal and year-round brews.  Surprisingly, Sierra is one of the few breweries that hasn’t lost the love and support of beer geeks on sites like Beer Advocate and RateBeer.  While brewers like New Belgium and Sam Adams are attacked for selling out as they grow, Sierra still gets a lot of love.  Of course, creative and “extreme” beers don’t hurt keeping them in the geeks’ good graces.

The Kellerweis is a hefeweizen, and the newest year-round brew from Sierra.  One thing the Kellerweis is not is an American spin on or bastardization of traditional hefes.  Instead, the Kellerweis is meant to taste just like a traditional Bavarian hefeweizen, and Sierra kept this in mind for everything from the ingredient list to the brewing process – an open-tank fermentation like that of traditional German wheat beers.

The pour for the Kellerweis is classic German wheat, coming out a cloudy straw yellow and kicking up a big, rocky, nearly white head.  Carbonation is nice and active, and the brew takes on a nice orange hue at the edges of the glass.  The head subsides to a thin layer of foam after a few minutes, but that doesn’t leave during the life of the beer.  In the nose, clove is probably the strongest smell, though it’s followed closely by banana and a touch of pepper.  Nice bits of wheat too, and just a touch of the estery yeast to finish it off.  For look and smell, I don’t think you can make a much better hefeweizen than this.

Each sip is just an assault of clove and banana.  Well, assault isn’t quite the right word, but the flavors hit with whatever the pleasant version of an assault is.  The flavor blends into some citrus and stronger wheat flavors, and finishes with slightly bitter spicy hops.  The body is light, but carbonation makes the mouthfeel  pretty substantial.  Along with being spicy and bitter, the finish is nicely crisp.  Certainly an easy-drinking beer, especially in this hot weather we’ve been having.

If you’re looking for a extreme beer or a new spin on the hefeweizen, skip the Kellerweis.  If you want a beer brewed perfectly to style, track down this beer.  As much as I love experimentation, I can appreciate the appeal of a style of beer that’s been drank for summer refreshment for about five centuries.  If you’re judging by that criteria, the Sierra Nevada Kellerweis is indeed stupid good.

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One response to “Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

  1. Kellerweis on tap at the Great Lost Bear

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