Monday, August 06, 2007

Quick Take: Pump Station Smoked Hefeweizen

When we read that the Albany Pump Station was offering a Smoked Hefeweizen, we had to visit. According to their web site:

This version of our Bavarian-style wheat beer is made with beechwood smoked malt, imparting a more than subtle flavor. The yeast-derived banana and clove characteristics are there, too. Our Brewmaster's favorite; in fact, I'm drinking it now! 5.6% ABV.
As it turns out, the Smoked Hefe is something they have offered twice previously in the past three months, and we'd actually sampled it before. The Pump Station's standard Hefeweizen is one of the best we have ever had the pleasure of tasting; it's crisp and refreshing without getting too yeast-y or over the top. There is a beautiful banana and clove spiciness going on as well. While we admittedly have not visited often enough lately (maybe once every three of four weeks on average), it seemed that either the Hefeweizen was not offered - they often have Evans' Wit, an excellent Belgian style beer in it's own right - or that the customary spice of the Hefe was just a little different.

In our ignorance, we had sampled the Bavarian Style (Smoked) Hefeweizen and simply assumed that their was a slight variance or tweak in the batch, similar to what seemingly has happened - for the better - with the Pale Ale recently. The Bavarian Style Hefeweizen sign on the tap list apparently is the same whether it's the smoked or standard version.

In our defense, the underlying smoke flavor is much more understated than the web site's description would lead us to believe. The smoke characteristic is fleeting at best; just a hint on the nose and at the finish. It is light, bubbly and solidly spiced, but, to our taste, not as clean and pleasant as their normal Hefeweizen. All in all, an enjoyable, easy drinker, but not one we'd choose over either the Hefe or the Evans' Wit. Still, any excuse to visit the Pump Station is a welcome one, at least in our book.

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