Widmer Hefeweizen at 30

Today in Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Widmer Brothers Brewing threw a big party for their flagship beer which turns 30 this year: Widmer Hefeweizen. The City also declared May 15 “Hefe Day” to commemorate the occasion, and this year for the first time Widmer released Hefe in cans (for which they sent me a couple along with an insulated stainless steel koozie sleeve).

Received: Cans of Widmer Hefeweizen

30 years! That’s a phenomenal stretch for a beer movement that’s barely older than that especially in light of today’s fickle and short attention span tastes. Jeff “The Beer Bible” Alworth has a terrific post about Hefe, as well as a great oral history, and over the years I’ve written about the beer myself—how it was my own “gateway” beer to craft (or micros, or whatever you want to call them way back when), and I believe I first reviewed it way back in 2006. And that particular review came from a Widmer Hefe press kit the brewery sent me—one of the first such packages I’d ever received as a blogger.

First Widmer press kit package

Yes, I am a fan, and will continue to be. So while I’m not sure I have much more to contribute on the tasting front for Hefe, I figured what I would do is put this vacuum-insulated steel koozie to the test: how well does it keep your canned beer cold?

Wider Hefeweizen at 30, snug in a koozie

Here was my methodology: both cans were stored in the same refrigerator at the same constant temperature. Because I was testing how well the insulator worked, this necessitate drinking both beers from the can—not optimal, but at least provides the apples-to-apples comparison I needed. The rest was simple: open the can, take the initial temperature, drink over the course of a half hour or more and record the temperature every 10 minutes to assess the change. Simple!

Here are the results:

Can with no sleeve:

  • Temp @ opening: 42°F
  • Temp @ 10 min: 45°F
  • Temp @ 20 min: 49°F
  • Temp @ 30 min: 53°F

Net change: 11 degrees.

Can with insulating sleeve:

  • Temp @ opening: 43°F
  • Temp @ 10 min: 43°F
  • Temp @ 20 min: 44°F
  • Temp @ 30 min: 46°F

Net change: 3 degrees. Definitely an improvement, and the beer was noticeably colder, longer.

In general I prefer to pour beer into a glass, but this insulated koozie performs as advertised, so if there are situations where I would be drinking straight from the can much of the time—camping, for instance—then this fills a slot nicely.

Cans and koozies aside, I can’t help but be impressed with the longevity of Hefeweizen, and yes, it still tastes good to me today. Cheers to 30, Widmer!