I’ll always have a soft spot for Ellensburg. It’s where I went to school and spent some of the best years of my life, and the atmosphere is such a perfect example of Eastern Washington. The college is smack-dab in the middle, taking up a large portion of the city, but step outside of it to a quaint downtown area with lots of farmland, rodeos, and an easy-going vibe.
It’s only fitting that a beer coming out of Ellensburg is something I’d drink to cool down during a long, hot day, so I’m really looking forward to digging into Iron Horse’s hefeweizen, High Five Hef.
Their description of this beer is “Wheat, honey and ginger. A hefe with flavor before the fruit. No lemon required. In fact, please spare our beer from the embarrassment.” Sounds like my kind of beer, so let’s dig into it!
Right off the bat, I’m seeing beautiful carbonation beads dancing around a body that is on the cloudy side, but actually very clear and clean for a hefeweizen. The pure white head is fizzy and creamy, dissipating quickly into the straw yellow, vibrant sunshine-colored beer.
While the beer is gorgeous, I’m actually thrown off a bit by the lack of particles / haziness for the style. Granted, I didn’t agitate the beer before drinking it, but the clarity certainly wasn’t something I expected.
Appearance Rating: 2 / 3
It’s apparent right away how beautiful the aroma of this beer is. It’s extremely strong on the lemon/lime citrus notes right in the front, and those remain the dominant aroma throughout the whole experience.
I’m getting a bit of honey and bitter orange peel, but those notes are again dominated by the lemon. There’s also a good amount of spiced character to this beer – lots of clove / white pepper and Christmas-ey spices, almost like a gingerbread cake.
I’m getting no alcohol whatsoever on the nose, so it’ll be interesting to see how that carries over into the flavor.
Aroma Rating: 9 / 12
My first impression of the flavor is much smoother than I had anticipated considering the relatively strong spiced notes on the nose. The spiced flavor is there, but very subtle.
The ginger spice is a great example of how the spices come across to me in the flavor – I’m normally not a fan of ginger, but there’s just enough here to bring out a certain crispness without being overwhelming.
This would definitely be a refreshing beer on a hot day, and a party favorite. It’s extremely easy-drinking, like a Blue Moon but much more artfully-done. The finish is middle-of-the-road in length, not sticking around for too long, but just enough to savor the flavor.
Almost no alcohol comes through, as it definitely tastes much lighter than 6%. This is overall a very solid beer, and while nothing stands out as overwhelmingly unique, is amazingly well-executed and I could easily see myself drinking it all day.
Flavor Rating: 17 / 20
The mouthfeel of this beer is easily my favorite part – it’s light-bodied, but not thin. A very easily-palatable hef, it comes through as very creamy without being overly sweet in the flavor.
There’s a very soft carbonation present, just enough to make the beer dance across your tongue without being overwhelming whatsoever. The finish drops off relatively quickly, and I’m left wanting another sip only because of how delicious it is, rather than any sort of astringency.
I simply can’t think of any way the mouthfeel of this beer could be better. It feels perfectly balanced in every way, and gets a perfect score from me.
Mouthfeel Rating: 5 / 5
My only criticism is that there’s no real “wow” factor; nothing specifically stands out as a world-class beer that distinguishes itself from any other well-made hef, but the execution is just outstanding.
I highly recommend this beer, and look forward to having it again soon!
Overall Rating: 8 / 10