3/2009 JOSEPHS BRAU DUNKELWEIZEN

3/2009 JOSEPHS BRAU DUNKELWEIZEN
While cruising TRADER JOE’S the other week, we came across the brew and grabbed a six-pack. “Ah, our brains thought, a small brewer in California attempting a tricky German style. Cool.”

Later, our intrigue turned to annoyance. When one tries to locate JOSEPHS BRAU BREWING COMPANY of SAN JOSE, California, it can’t be found. In reading over the scuttlebutt in the beer blogs, the money seems to on BRAU being produced as a contract brew by GORDON BIERSCH for TRADER JOE’S.

Sigh. Why the deception? Perhaps TRADER JOE’S would respond that this was not deception; rather, it is part of their running gag of fake brands, like TRADER GIOTTA Italian food products. JOSEPHS BRAU = Joe’s Beer. Get it?

No, quite probably, not many folks do get it, what with the beer’s old world stylings. As a gag, it’s done a bit too well, and we are among the folks who feel burned that we paid good money for a brew produced by the rarely-impressive Biersch.

What can one say of this Double-Wheat? It is light brown and cloudy and pours a decent head, though it dissipates quickly. In the mouth it clobbers the palate with a single yeast flavor and a bit of sweetness. Unlike good dunkelweisses, this is crude, a two-note drink. It’s not worth more than $1.25 a bottle. (We spent north of that.) If it is cheap or free, and there are brats being served, well, have at it. Otherwise, skip this product. (Rating **3/4)

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Widmer Hefeweizen

“Uncompromised and unfiltered,” announces the label of this WIDMER wheat beer. Well, we’re all for that; we like honest hefeweizens. As readers may recall, we are rabid fans of SCHNEIDER WEISSE and its doppel-brother, AVENTINUS.

This brew was a disappointment. It looks good in the glass — pretty color, fat head. … But it delivers nearly nothing to the nose or palate — just a little yeast. Where are the clove, fruit, and banana notes? In the mouth it felt thin, and it closed with an odd, bitter, almost metallic flavor. Maybe we got a bad batch. (The labels on the bottles in this six-pack say they were bottled “040208”.) Toss in a lemon, and the taste improves, but only because it is lemony. Bummer. According to the folks at Widmer Brothers, this brew has won medals in years past. Go figure. (Rating **1/2)

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Harpoon Brewery UFO Hefeweizen

How does this American-made wheat beer compare to the great wheat beers of the old world? Not badly. Unlike, say, Schneider Weisse, this hefeweizen lacks the wild clove and bubble gum notes. Nonetheless, at the end of a hot day, UFO is awfully satisfying. The wheat profile is evident; the head is robust. And at $23 for 24 12-ounce bottles (the price we paid at at a Costco), it’s a bargain. (Rating***3/4)

To see if our retailer can send you UFO HEFEWEIZEN, click SHOP and type “HARPOON” in the search engine and click the magnifying glass. Otherwise, surf to http://www.HarpoonBrewery.com/.

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