Beer Review: Phillips Rifflandabrau Lemon Hefeweizen

For my first review, I decided it was a good idea to go with something local, and as I just drank a bottle of the latest iteration of Philiips‘s Rifflandabrau last night, it seemed like a great place to start.

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Now, I should preface this review by stating that I am an unabashed Phillips fanboy. They are the first craft brewery that I fell in love with, after previously trying mediocre offerings from Vancouver Island Brewery and Granville Island. I now live two blocks away, so am now basically the Norm Peterson of the growler bar (for those of you old enough to have watched “Cheers”). I have several Phillips shirts and hats, a bike jersey, and a bottle collection going back four years.

That being said, I’ve never been all that enamored by their Rifflandiabrau offering. Previous iterations have been a someone standard pilsner, churned out in large quantities to quench thte thirst of the thousands of people attending Rifflandia festival. Not a bad pilsner, by any means, but I guess I’m just not the biggest fan of larger since my palette matured.

So I was delighted when I found out that this year they had decided to mix things up and make the rifflandabrau a lemon hefeweizen instead. How appealing does that sound? I mean, just typing those words makes my mouth water! I suspect this change came about because they recently added a pilsner to their regular line-up and the difference between it and the old Rifflandabrau is somewhat academic.

My sample bottle was graciously provided by the kind folks at Cook Street Liquor and I also managed to snag a growler of it last weekend in the Phillips growler bar.

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ABV: 5.0%

IBU: Unknown

Bottle: 350ml (only available in a Phillips Mixed Pack)

The beer pored out a gorgeous amber colour, like a pale ale. While I poured rather aggressively, there was really no head to speak of, though the carbonation levels were still exactly where they should be for a hefe.

The glass smelled powerfully of lemon zest; not lemon flavouring, but freshly grated lemon rind.

While the fragrance was strong, the first sip revealed that the lemon did not overpower the classic hefe taste, being bananas and clove, produced by the high wheat content and the special yeast used. It tasted dry and tart and about five seconds after drinking a sip, the lemon aftertaste kicked in and made me smack my lips. It was pretty wonderful.

As hefes go, this one was pretty wonderful. Producing it for just one week a year seems like a shame. This would make a fantastic addition to their summer line-up, along with it’s hoppier cousin, Electric Unicorn.

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