My favorite thing we have is the Hofbrau Heifeweizen Dunkel beer. I discovered it when I was riding around Germany on a motorcycle. I rented a BMW and tore it up on the Autobahn across the country. This is a darker beer with a thick creamy head.
Germany has a very old food law still upheld called “Reinheitsgebot” (1571) that says beer can only be made of four ingredients. You can’t even sell an American Budweiser over there unless it is being sold as a soda in a McDonald’s. It is just a slightly more watered-down version of what we have here.
I noticed all the beers were much purer over there. I didn’t worry much more about hangovers the next morning. I could taste the variety of flavors and profiles. It is amazing how much of a difference it makes the way they treat each ingredient and what different styles you can get out of that.
It was very impressive. A lot of American beers rely on adding coffee or rice or fruit or some alternate source grain to get a profile. There, it is all in how they treat those four ingredients, most importantly the hops.
When I had a distributor mention they had Hofbrau to me, we started bringing it in here. It was easy for me to order it and I assume you can get it around town if you look.
When I talk to people about beer, this is usually my go-to crowd pleaser. The fun thing about this beer is how you pour it. Hofbrau adds more yeast in when they package it, so you’ll have to pour a little bit in the glass, stick your finger in the top and give it a swish to get it back mixed in to avoid a small amount of yeast sludge at the bottom.
It’s funny how this is our biggest crowd pleaser when people try it, yet no one hardly thinks to order it.
A hefeweizen means a lighter beer. This beer is a classic dunkel where if you treated the ingredients the same when brewing in your garage you can come up with something very similar to it. This is not a secret recipe. It is a good solid beer that isn’t too fancy.
To make this beer simply requires roasting the hops longer to give it a darker color. The yeast added in late gives it a really creamy head.
When you are thinking of a German style beer, you have to think about how you’re consuming a tradition of the purest ingredients. It doesn’t mess around.
(Midtown Brewing Co. is located at 402 S. Washington Square. This interview was edited and condensed by Dennis Burck. If you have a recommendation for “Favorite Things,” please email firstname.lastname@example.org.)