Winter is here in Calgary. There is snow on the ground, my winter tires are on, and I wear a heavy coat whenever I leave the house. Summer has ended, autumn has passed us over, and winter has taken over. I really like the fall and I am sad that it has been taken from me, so just like Dylan Thomas I am raging against the dying of the light and I am drinking a hefeweizen to stave off the arrival of winter (I’m pretty sure that is what that poem means). So, with the heat on and while wearing a heavy-knit sweater, I pour Steel & Oak‘s Smoked Hefeweizen and hope for warmer weather.
Appearance: What strikes you about the look of this beer is the immediate head at the top of the glass. It is thick and will not dissipate. If this beer were a football player, it would take the field without a helmet, knowing the thickness of its own head would protect it from anything that could possibly happen on the pitch. Underneath that white foam is a cloudy gold colour that is chock full of carbonation bubbles.
Aroma: The beer has a very strong banana scent, followed up by the smoke I was expecting. It’s a really interesting combination on the nose. There are clove scents and spice, but what really comes through are bananas, more than anything else.
Taste: Steel & Oak have the hefeweizen recipe down. It’s full of banana and clove flavours, its carbonation tickles your throat, and it has an easy drinking taste. What separates this brew is the addition of smoke. I have had smoked beer in the past that is so smoky that it felt like I was drinking a campfire. This isn’t that. There is a smoke bitterness on the dry finish, but nothing that would overwhelm the taste of hefeweizen.
Feel: This is on the lighter side of hefeweizens. The carbonation adds a frothiness to the drink but it is still very light on the tongue.
Overall: This an interesting take on a classic style. The hefeweizen is a summer favourite that is an easy-drinking, refreshing beer and Steel & Oak’s Smoked Hefeweizen uses smoked malts to add an extra layer of flavour to the mix. That complexity makes for a combination of flavours that offer an intriguing beer, and one that I would definitely partake in again.