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Growlers filled with wheat 

Propeller's new wheat beer, Hefeweizen, available on tap in their store Monday. Bottled beer to follow shortly. Note: It's good.

Don Harms, brewmaster for Propeller, pours bottles of Propeller's new wheat beer, Hefeweizen*, into glasses. He places them on the bar. Daniel Girard, Garrison Brewer, puts his nose right up to the sudsy glass and takes a huff. Banana and cloves, that's good. Lorne Romano, Rogue's Roost brewer, takes his glass over to a window and holds it up to the light.

Then they drink. Pleasure drifts across their faces in long draughts. It's good.

"This is in the Erdinger strain," Harms says. This is not a Belgian witbier (white beer) like Rickard's or Hoegaarden (or Keith's, if you've seen the recent ads). The difference is totally oranges and bananas. Brewers add coriander and orange peels to white beer during brewing, Girard tells me. Hefeweizen is traditional German stuff. Harms says his wheat beer uses Munich yeast, Bavarian hops and a Canadian - German mix of wheat and pale malts. The banana-clove scent and flavour come entirely from this mix.

After the first beer, the three brewmasters enter into a heady discussion, full of professional jargon. After the word CO2, I don't understand a thing.

Harms calls it an old school beer and a tough beer to brew. Wheat is not forgiving if you miscalculate. Go heavy on one thing, the clove muscles in; too light on another, the beer gets bubblegummy. Harms has plenty of experience with traditional wheat beer. He trained as a brewmaster at the Kulmbacher Schweizerhof-brau brewery in the famous Bavarian beer town of Kulmbacher.

"Wheat beers nearly went extinct in the Sixties," Harms tells me. Only a few breweries made them. They only recently made a comeback. "Now they're the number one selling beer in Bavaria and the second most popular beer overall in Germany."

He credits the German breweries marketing them to women as well as men. Plus, he says, smiling, "They are extremely healthy. One beer has enough B complex vitamin to cover your whole weekly needs."

Hefeweizen: Wheaties for Teutons who skipped breakfast?

Hefeweizen beer will be available Monday on tap at the brewery for growlers. The bottled version will be sold in the Propeller retail store within the week; they are just waiting for the labels.

Correction: In an earlier version of this post, hefeweizen was misspelled as hefenweizen. The Coast regrets the error.

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