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San Diego Brewed is sponsored by Bottlecraft.

Bottlecraft is a retail shop and tasting room in Little Italy showcasing local, domestic and international craft beers. They offer hundreds of beers for your enjoyment in their onsite tasting room or to-go, as well as daily beer flights, events, glassware, merchandise, and gifts. Open Noon-10pm seven days a week. 2161 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

ThunderweizenPoway’s Lightning Brewery often gets overlooked in the crowded beer market that is San Diego today. They don’t brew any over the top hop bomb West Coast IPAs, in fact they don’t brew any (American style) IPAs at all (although Lightning’s Jim Crute says their Black Lightning Porter is really a Black IPA, I’ll have to revisit that one when the fresh batch comes out. Unlike most other breweries in San Diego, Lightning focuses mostly on classic European styles, sometimes with tweaks and changes and sometimes brewed traditionally. Case in point: Thunderweizen Ale their German-style Hefeweizen.

I’ll admit I’m not hefeweizen expert (I wouldn’t call myself an expert on any style of beer, but there are plenty of styles I know a lot more about) so I can’t evaluate Lightning’s claim that this is a traditional German style hefeweizen, though I have no reason to doubt it.

Thunderweizen is listed at 5.5% ABV with no IBU given, but I would guess not much, this beer is much more about the yeast (‘hefe’ means yeast in German) and wheat than being hoppy. It’s cloudy and unfiltered, as even novice hefeweizen drinkers have come to expect from the style, dark yellow with a fluffy white head.

As soon as I stared to pour I could smell it, even with my nose about a foot away from the glass, this is a aromatic beer. Big sweet over-ripe banana smells dominate with just a bit of clove spiciness in the background when you really get your nose in there.

The taste however was just the opposite. Spicy clove flavors up front with a noticeable but somewhat subdued banana flavor coming second. The finish is dry, much drier than I expected for a beer like this. And there’s a pleasant bitter, clove like spice aftertaste that hangs around after taking each sip.

Thunderweizen is available in 22oz bottles ($4-6) and on draft.