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The Weekly Beer Geek

Weekly Beer Review: Frankenmuth’s The Hef

The Hef – Hefeweizen
Frankenmuth Brewing Co.
$2.09/Bottle (12 oz)
Grade: C-

The Beginning:
A year ago, Playboy announced that since you can now see all the boobs you could possibly want online for free, they were going to drop nude pictorials and become a high-life men’s magazine in the vein of Esquire. I was going to buy a copy of the last proper issue as a keepsake, but forgot – luckily, it turns out it would have been a bad investment. Playboy has gone back to the old days, although they say it will now be CLASSIER nudity. In honor of a return to normalcy I grabbed a bottle of The Hef. Get it? It’s a play on Hugh Hefner’s nickname and the word “hefeweizen!” Plus there’s a dog!

The Brewer’s Pitch:
Like The Hef (the man), The Hef (the beer) is classy and smooth, and a little bit hazy. It’s top fermented and unfiltered to give it an overall cloudy and smooth texture, and a light hopping lets it stay easy-drinking and pleasant. Gently sweet banana and just a touch of herbal clove bring earthy notes to the palate. The Hef is a 2016 World Expo of Beer Gold Medal winner for Best German Wheat, and the brewers recommend it paired with light foods like chicken, corn, fruit desserts, seafood, and Michigan Cherries- sounds like a summer flavor set if I’ve ever heard one.

The Beer
The Hef is dark gold, and the dregs of the bottle bring the unfiltered sediment to make it hazy. A coarse bright white head develops on the pour but quickly fizzles into champagne-gold scraps and a nose that is spicy with pepper and clove notes. The mouthfeel is quite light and thin, slightly watery on the back end but bringing a pleasant tingle across the middle. The dominant flavor up front is grain lightly tempered with a slightly herbal blend of hops, pepper, and clove. A bit of sweetness follows up and leads into the back end but it’s more of a grainy-carb sweetness than the more mellow fruity sweetness of banana promised in the description.

The Breakdown:
This beer is resoundingly mediocre. It doesn’t have much that I’d associate with a good Hefeweizen, although it does elevate above your standard mass-market lagers and pilsners. There’s some spice and a bit of body but it’s incredibly grain-forward. That’s not a bad thing by itself but a grain-forward beer needs to have very good grains. The Hef has plain, slightly sweet grain that aren’t toasty or roasty or biscuity or anything else notable. It could be a serviceable cooler-filler for a barbecue, but at the price point better options abound.

The Breakdown:
Apparently, when The Hef sold the Playboy mansion, it included a stipulation that he got to keep living there until he died. That is amazingly insane- would you be MORE likely, or LESS likely to buy a house if it came with a bonus Hugh Hefner?

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