Hi Patrick, I have a beer question.

Today on Facebook, my mom asked me a question that I couldn’t answer in the short limits that Facebook imposes on wall comments/posts. I reposted it here in full form.

Here is the question:

Hi Patrick,
I have a beer question.

Unfiltered and unfettered Hefeweisen… I had that recently at 12 Crane and it didn’t taste right. I am sure I have had it before, or at least tasted it at a beer bar in Boston with you and I liked it. When I asked the waitress about it, she said the beer was as it should be but may have seemed strange because of the “unfettered and unfiltered”. Does that sound right to you or is she just a good waitress with an intelligent sounding response? I am keeping my question “filtered” because I don’t want to cast aspersions on any beer makers.

love, Mom

Read on for my response:


Hi Mom

In what way did it not taste right? We probably had it at Magic Hat’s Brewery in Vermont, and quite possibly at a bar in Boston.

Their Circus Boy ‘Hefeweizen’ is more of an American Wheat Ale, rather than a traditional Hefeweizen, so it won’t have a lot of the banana or clove aromas that a good German Hefeweizen has.

The beer is certainly unfiltered, so it should be hazy. If the beer you got was clear, then perhaps the waitress poured the wrong beer, and was trying to cover it up. The ‘unfettered’ word is meaningless marketing speak. The fact that she said it was like that because it was ‘unfiltered and unfettered’ means that she didn’t know what she was talking about.

However, it is quite possible that there was something wrong with the beer. Here are some common off-flavors, and what can be done about them:

  • musty/mildew aroma – this is really disgusting, it is aused by dirty tap lines. Complain to management, and rethink your drinking establishment.

  • wet paper/cardboard aroma, or very dull hop flavor – you can only recognize the dull hop flavor if you know how the beer is supposed to taste, and the wet paper aroma really only shows up when the brewer uses adjuct sugar sources (like corn or rice) instead of 100% wheat/barley. This is caused by the beer being oxidized, and happens when the beer is old, or if the bar is pumping air into their draft system instead of CO2 or a CO2/N2 mixture. Complain to management, but don’t completely write the bar off unless this happens a lot.

  • soapy/chemical armoma – This is most often caused by the bar using a no-rinse sanitizer on their glassware, and not allowing it to dry completely before pouring your beer. This is pretty offputting, and you should be able to request a new pint in a dry glass.

  • movie theater popcorn/werthers candy aroma – the butter/butterscoth aroma is caused by a chemical called diacetyl, and is sometimes appropriate in some styles of beer, especially british ales. However, it should never be overpowering. This is caused by bad beer in the keg, and is indicative of a problem at the brewery. It should be sent back to the distributor for destruction. This is not the bar’s fault, but they should respond well when they discover the problem.

  • creamed corn/vegetal aroma – this is caused by a chemical called DMS (Dimethylsulfide), and is also caused by bad beer in the keg. The same stuff applies as with Diacetyl.

You may also want to go onto Magic Hat’s web site, and let them know. If there is a problem with the beer or supply chain, they would probably be very interested to fix it. The last thing they want is consumers trying it, and thinkign that it isn’t right, and never trying it again.

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