Review by: Cory Smith
Sly Fox is a fun little brewery out of Pennsylvania that is making some incredible canned beers. You can see my first review of their Pikeland Pilsner here, but today I’m going to be trying their Hefeweizen called Royal Weisse. Sly Fox seems to be all about the old German style beers, opting for fewer IPA’s and more Dunkles. I love this approach to brewing as it was German beers that really piqued my interest in drinking non-macro lagers.
As I said in my Pils review, Sly Fox also seems to respect the can as much as I do. They are all about preserving a beer’s natural flavors for as long as possible through the art of canning. They have even released beers in these awesome cans that have a liftable lid allowing the can to turn into an open topped glass. I don’t know why other breweries havne’t jumped on this train yet, but as I think about it, let me dive into Royal Weisse.
Royal Weisse is an unfiltered wheat beer by name, but it seems a little too clear to be unfiltered. Maybe I just had it in the fridge for too long, or maybe I’m just crazy, but this is a very clear, honey-colored ale. Royal Weisse is the perfect wheat-beer color, though, and poured with a thick, cloud-colored head. It’s as if Bob Ross stopped by to paint some “happy little clouds” on the top of my glass. I can also see that it’s highly carbonated, which I think fits the style perfectly.
What a great aroma. It’s not as big as some Hefeweizens are in smell, but it has loads of overly-ripe bananas and a hint of clove. There’s also a background note of honey and graham crackers which makes Royal Weisse smell like it’s going to be an extremely sweet beer. There is a little bit of an earthiness to it, but at 11 IBUs, I can’t imagine that comes from any hop edition. It’s just a yeasty treat waiting to be enjoyed.
Due to it looking unfiltered, I had a feeling this was going to be a thin beer. I couldn’t be more wrong. It’s got a great medium-bodied mouthfeel and the carbonation is just perfect. The bubbles are light, soft, and abundant; just what you want from a Bavarian Wheat ale. It is, though, extremely sticky on the back end; a glass of water would help wash this guy down.
The aroma and taste of Royal Weisse are mirror images. I get a torrent of ripe bananas, mixed in with some honey-like sweetness. If anything, it is a little bit too saccharine for my taste; it’s almost like a lighter version of liquid banana bread. It’s also a bit one dimensional. The flavors are not subtle or muted, but they’re just not complex. I try to search for more descriptors, but there really isn’t much to go on here. There’s a little orange zest, as if you squeezed the oils out of the rind and into the beer, but the malt, and obviously the hops, are overpowered by the bold esters of the yeast.
While this isn’t the type of German Hefe I’ve known to love, it is a really solid beer. Royal Weisse seems to be caught between a “full” beer and a session ale. It’s slightly too light to have the same complexity as its German counterparts, but it is a little too sweet to be your typical session. But, judging this beer on taste alone, I’m going to give it an 88. I think Royal Weisse has a solid flavor profile, but is just lacking in a few areas. If there was slightly more complexity, slightly less sweetness, and that typical Hefeweizen cloudiness, I’d say it’s an easy A. That being said, I’d drink this if I were at a cookout, a baseball game, or any other social gathering where I don’t want to be drinking heavier beers. Pair this with lemon bars for dessert and prepare to be blown away!