I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Dundee Summer Wheat beer – it was even recommended to me by a few commenters on this site! Still, with the underwhelming experience I had with the Dundee Honey Brown, I wasn’t ever planning on buying the Summer Wheat.
Before I get started on the beer, I just want to get a little pet-peeve out of the way. I always read beer labels for little clues or information about whatever particular beer I happen to be drinking. The Dundee Summer Wheat label has a little story on the label, it’s short-enough, so I’ll just copy it.
“Back in 1487, a summer beer-also known as “Hefeweizen” would run you two phennings…That was twice the price of winter beers. Why? Well, summer, or “wheat” beers were so popular, Duke Allbrecht had to double the price so that bakers would have enough wheat for baking.”
I’m not sure of the historical accuracy of this little story, but I’m pretty sure that “Hefeweizen” does not literally translate to “Summer Beer”. “Hefe” means ‘yeast’ loosely, and weizen translates into ‘wheat beer’. So, ‘Hefeweizen’ really means ‘yeast wheat-beer’ and while it can certainly be associated as a great summer beer style, it is not a synonym.
Are you still here? You’ll see later how this classification, or misclassification of this beer creates problems. OK then, let’s check out this “Summer Beer” then!
The Dundee Summer Wheat certainly looks like a hefeweizen in the glass. As you can see, its very, very cloudy as a result of the sediment suspended in the beer, and its color also seems true to the style with its a dark straw color. The head is not impressive, but its pure white and foamy. Retention is not great, but there is a bit of lacing that remains throughout.
The aroma of the Dundee Summer Wheat is mainly wheat and citrus. Hefeweizens I’ve had prior to this all seem to be banana and spice in the aroma, so there’s a break here with what one might expect. I’ve never had a ‘Summer Shandy’ which is a wheat beer and lemonade, but to me that is what the Summer Wheat reminds me of (if I had such a memory!) Its a little too much on the lemon for me based on what I’ve tried before.
Taste is much the same. The Dundee website states that the “Crisp and Cloudy” Summer Wheat is “40% wheat and a touch of rye malt to create a refreshingly unique flavor.” I’ll agree that the beer is crisp and cloudy, but I’m wondering if the rye malts are giving this beer its very un-hefeweizen taste qualities? Again, there are no banana flavors typical of the style, and while there may be some slight spiciness, to me this sour lemon flavor really steals the spotlight.
Its not bad tasting, but my brain is expecting Hefeweizen, and my mouth is experiencing what I believe is more like a Summer Shandy with the tart lemon aroma and flavors.
So, here’s my assessment. The Dundee Summer Wheat is a nice beer for summer. I like the lemon tartness actually, and I’ll definitely finish the rest of the samples I was sent without any problems. My only beef is I don’t think this beer is in any way like any Hefeweizen I’ve ever tried before. I don’t know how they can label it as such because except for the wheat in there, and the obvious cloudiness, its nothing like it.
Call it a Summer Shandy and perhaps I’d rate it higher, but as a Hefeweizen there are better choices out there and so I’m giving the Dundee Summer Wheat 2 stars.