When I am looking at a draft board or a shelf full of bottles it is rare that I decide on a hefeweizen. It’s not that I have anything against the style I just generally reach for something sour, funky, hoppy or whatever is new. From time to time I will have a Weihenstephaner or a Paulaner and every time I think to myself “This beer is delicious and I should really drink more hefeweizen.” Even with that repeatedly learned knowledge I still rarely reach for a hefeweizen and its even more rare that I reach for an American brewed example of the style.
With that being said there is an American brewed hefeweizen that I have wanted to try for some time. Live Oak Hefeweizen is a beer that has received more than its fair share of buzz in the beer world and it has been on my radar for some time. As of today, Beer Advocate has Live Pak Hef rated higher than The Bruery’s Grey Monday, Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze and Stone’s IRS which are three of my favorite beers. That alone is enough to peak my interest and after several years I finally got my hands on a can.
I crack the can and get a nice loud pop and as I begin to pour the beer into my Teku glass I get a hazy golden beer with a fluffy white head. The head lingers a while with a steady line of carbonation and the classic yeast driven aromas jump out of the glass before I even raise the glass. There’s a vibrant bouquet filled with the smell of fresh oranges along with the more traditional notes of wheat, clove and banana. The citrus is definitely the star of the show for me. Simply put, Live Oak’s Hefeweizen smells wonderful and I can’t wait to take a sip.
My first sip of the beer lives up to the hype. The traditional flavors are all there but not in the ratios one would expect. The Isoamyl acetate is huge in this beer with one of the most pronounced banana flavor I can recall in any recent beer I have had.1 I also get a big bubble gum character along with the aforementioned citrus. The spices and clove are also there but only in trace amounts as they are overpowered by the more dominant flavors. The bubble gum lingers into the finish and is reminiscent of the first few seconds of a mouthful of Big League Chew. The flavors work perfectly together to create a refreshing, unique and delicious beer.