I often find it difficult rationalizing living in New Jersey. Its crowded, expensive, and what I see of it on most days, not pretty to look at. Thankfully though, New Jersey has some pretty good home-grown beers which helps take some of the sting out of the place!
If you’re a regular reader of this site, you’ll know that recently I had the chance to tour the High Point Brewing Company located in Butler, NJ. (As well as meet Lee in person – very cool!) The tour was cool, meeting Lee was cool, but let’s face facts – we’re in it for the beer, right? :-)
It wasn’t too long ago that I asked for recommendations for a good domestic Hefeweizen to compete with my favorite, Kellerweis from Sierra Nevada. Turns out, there aren’t too many out there. Silly me, I forgot that one of the premier Domestic wheat-beer brewers is not even an hour from where I live!
I’ve had one of High Point’s “Ramstein” beers before and loved it! That was their Winter Wheat which unfortunately isn’t bottled anymore, and so I had high expectations for their standard Hefeweizen. I wan’t disappointed!
BTW, the owner, and head-brewer Greg Zaccardi imports all of his beer-making ingredients (save the water) from Germany. He also spent time learning the craft in Germany before setting up shop here in New Jersey. So, its about as authentic to the German brewing tradition as you can get here in the States.
Ramstein Blonde, in my opinion, is one of the best Hefes out there. As good as Kellerweis? I’d say so. There are differences though, and thanks to Lee, I had a few bottles of Kellerweis on hand to compare!
Both beers are good examples of the style, but the Ramstein Blonde is more representative of German wheat beers like Erdinger or Weihenstephaner I think. Less spicy and more of the natural flavors that come through like clove and banana. You have to remind yourself that only the traditional ingredients of yeast, hops, malted barley and water go into the Ramstein recipe. All those fruit and spice flavors are derived from only that – not added! (No bananas or cloves are harmed during the production of a proper Hefeweizen.)
So the aroma is typical Hefe – banana, clove and the like, but the flavor is a little more complex. Yep, the trademark Hefe banana and clove are apparent, but also flavors like honey seem to be in there that added a smooth and enjoyable sweetness to the beer.
Fortunately, I loved this beer and now know what to seek out when craving a domestic Hefe. Heck, I might even see this one out when looking for an imported hefe considering all of its ingredients are imported, and the brewing techniques were honed under the watchful eyes of some German brewmasters!
I only wish the beers were a little more easy to find, but I suppose an hour drive to the prettier parts of New Jersey are worth it once in awhile.
Four stars easy.
What about you? Do you have a little gem like High Point Brewery near your home?