Back to basics, gang. Last beer of Beer Week!
So for this last beer, I had a number of great choices to write about. Smuttynose’s Star Island Single, Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout, Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale, and this one, Pennichuck’s Rustwagen Hefewiezen. All are great beers (at least the one’s I’ve tried, and the others by reputation), and any one of them would have made a great cap to Beer Week. In the end, I went with the Rustwagen because if my quick Googling was right, only something like 6 people have tried this beer and bothered to review it. It’s a relative unknown for most people, so I thought I’d bring it a little more attention, because that’s what it’s all about, right? Trying new things, getting the word out about good beers to good people. You can look up any one of those other beers and read literally HUNDREDS of reviews about them, they don’t need my help. These guys do. So let’s get to it, shall we?
The Lowdown: Rustwagen is an traditional unfiltered hefeweizen, a style of wheat beer. The “unfiltered” refers to the yeast, which is left in the bottle either to continue fermentation, or in the case of many hefewiezens add to the flavor and mouthfeel of the beer. The Rustwagen pours out a deep yellow-orange, super fizzy head, and is completely opaque. Here’s a look at the yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle (it’s totally OK to drink, don’t be scared):
If that photo looks strange or out of focus, it’s because I was standing on a chair like an idiot, putting the beer bottle up to the light fixture with one hand while taking the picture with the other. Apparently in that moment I forgot that there are plenty of floor-level lights I could hold the bottle up to and get the exact shot I wanted. I hadn’t even opened the bottle to start drinking yet!
The Whiff: As soon as I poured this, I caught a light lemony whiff. Sticking my nose all up in it, it didn’t get more intense, just a nice soft lemony scent. There’s some general wheat/bread in there, and under it all a little bit of yeast funk. Not a bad funk, good funk. Like The Brothers Johnson funk.
The Taste: Right away I get wheat with a citrus tang on the front end. After the first gulp that tang gives way to just a little bit of a lemon flavor. The bread carries over from the nose, almost like a banana bread kind of thing. There’s the tiniest bit of spice under there, and then it tapers off and finishes clean. It’s true to the style and it’s a really easy-drinking beer. Easy-drinkin’ is important here, as it’s a pretty big bottle (just under a fifth) so it’d better go down easy at that quantity. Like I said at the beginning of the week, being enjoyable is what it’s all about, so this beer’s a winner for me.
Would you drink it again? Yes. It’s a good quality brew that’s perfect for these end-of-Summer-but-not-yet-Fall days. It’s light and citrusy and easy to drink, but the underlying wheat and spice hints at the rich seasonings and flavors of autumn that are just ahead. A great beer for these transitional months (and other times too, of course).
Would you recommend it to someone else? Yes. This is one of those beers that’s so easy to drink that anyone will like it, but is complex enough that beer snobs can enjoy it too. And beer snobs should enjoy something, right?
Overall: A solid beer from the little guys. Give it a try! A-