Archive for the 'Wheat Ale' category
Starr Hill is a brewery out of Charlottesville, VA that I was able to enjoy only briefly before they were scooped up by Anheuser-Busch a few years ago. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem that AB has done too much to ruin a good thing, as I’m generally impressed with Starr Hill offerings today. This wheat ale, “The Love”, is one I haven’t had yet, but happened to run into in Wilmington, NC…
The pour of this is typical wheat ale – light golden and cloudy with a hefty cake of debris at the bottom of the bottle. The aroma is very yeasty with a bit of citrus to burn the nose, leading me to believe that this is likely of the Bavarian style. In the mouth, these suspicions are confirmed, with the flavor profile of this coming somewhere between a German hefeweizen and a Belgian witbier. There is an initial slight burn on the tip of the tongue, awakening the tastebuds and giving this an extra crisp taste. Through the mouth, the primary flavor component is sweet yeast, though the light wheat flavors are also prevalent. Helping out is again, some citrus flavor with a lemon rind sharpness and maybe just a hint of banana floating along in the back. All in all, it’s a great take on the genre – good for the summertime and fairly priced at $8 for a sixer. If they’d stick this stuff in a can, it might be the beach beer for the season!
The folks at the Beer of the Month Club have been kind enough to keep us in beer every month here at SevenPack central, despite the fact that we’ve been pretty lousy about reviewing them lately due to business, redundancy, etc. Nevertheless, I feel compelled this month to report on a particular selection they tossed in the mix. It’s somewhat rare for us to get a beer these days that we haven’t addressed previously, due to the distribution channels here in NC. Furthermore, it’s pretty rare for me to run across a Weissbier that I haven’t tried – I’m pretty wild about the genre and try to gobble them up whenever I find new ones. This brew, however, manages to fit both of those categories of unreviewed and never tried, so here we go!
First of all, I should frame this review by saying that it is being written from the balcony here in downtown Durham on a 75 degree evening as the sun sets across the skyline – undeniably a great place and time to enjoy a weissbier, and it will likely skew my review towards the positive.
This brew pours a hazy golden, dulled by beaucoup white yeasty debris agitated to life from the bottom of the bottle. The head is rocky and white, and the beer smells of sweet yeast and grain, aligned with the German varieties (though this actually comes from Austria). In the mouth, I’m actually taken by the lack of sweetness in the beer. Not to say it isn’t yeasty and sweet and refreshing, but it doesn’t jump out with the big banana and esther flavors that so often accompany a weiss. Instead, this is subdued, with a hint of sour citrus and some soft grainy flavors. The mouthfeel is pillowy and coats the tongue, leaving a rather resilient aftertaste. What this amounts to is a rich and balanced beer that is exceedingly refreshing and goes down much faster than you want it to. At 5.1% abv, this probably isn’t meant to be a session beer, but you’ll have a hard time keeping it from becoming one once you start on that six pack. A great brew, indeed, and just what I was looking for on this warm southern night…
Seriously, folks, am I the only person here who pretty much only drinks Red Stripe because of the excellent bottle? I mean, it’s not a *bad* beer, but it’s also not a great beer. But somehow, some way, that stubby little bottle makes the stuff so darn refreshing on hot day. Well, this is the main reason I was so excited to run upon North Peak brewing company out of Traverse City, Michigan. I’m sure they don’t get quite so many balmy days in Traverse City as they do in Kingston, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still bottle their brews in stubby little bottles.
I can’t tell you exactly what this beer looks like, because I’m not willing to pour it out of the bottle unless it’s going straight into my mouth. However, from holding the bottle up to a light, I can tell you that there is plenty of debris in here and a nice cake of yeast settled to the bottom of the bottle. The aroma seems sweet and light, with some candy-like hints to go with the light bready scent. In the mouth, I find this beer very tasty. The flavor isn’t anything new to fans of the variety, though it does seem to skew to the Bavarian take on the genre. There is plenty of light wheat sweetness here, some lighter-than-average banana hints, and a greater-than-usual candy sweetness. The candy flavors taste a bit like someone crumbled up a SweetTart or two and sprinkled it in – but just a couple. It isn’t overwhelming, and has just enough tartness to it to enhance the thirst quenching effect. Overall, I’d kill to have a six-pack of this stuff beside me on a beach somewhere. Maybe a Majestic in one hand and a bocce ball in the other? Yeah, that’d do just fine…
Bud Light… Golden Wheat? Got to give everything its fair chance I guess. In a slight change of pace, instead of working off notes, which I typically due when writing up reviews, I am “live blogging” this tasting. Anyway, lets see what those crazy Belgians of A-B InBev have in store for us.
The beer pours a golden orange that is lightly hazy in my US pint glass. Lots of carbonation in the body that produces a large, slightly off-white head. The head fizzes like soda as it recedes, and it recedes to nothing in roughly a minute. For the brief time the head is in existence I get a pretty good whiff of lemon. Once the head disappears, so does the lemon aroma, and coriander makes itself known. The mouthfeel is light, but heavier then regular Bud Light. Definitely some coriander in the taste, and a smattering of lemon-citrus. I do not find either of the flavors artificial or off putting, but they are definitely light in nature. They do a good job of masking Bud Light’s typical crappy taste however, so that is nice. As the beer warms the coriander takes on a larger presence in the nose, and becomes a bit harsher in the taste. Definitely a beer to drink regular refrigerator cold, i.e. no beer fridge for this six pack!
Overall, it is not as bad as I was expecting it would be. I was expecting more of an artificial flavoring to the beer, similar in nature to their Bud Light Lime product (I had a sample of that stuff, and really do not look forward to doing a full review of the beer). I will also give points for sediment in the bottle because, again, I did not expect such a thing from AB-InBev, and the fact the label actually mentions “Unfiltered Wheat Beer Will Settle Roll Gently to Mix”. If I was stuck choosing between Bud Light and Bud Light Golden Wheat, I would probably be the designated driver for the night… but if I was forced to choose between the two… I would go with the Golden Wheat. At $8 for a six pack however, I would spend the extra buck or two to pick up a better craft brewed wheat beer, then pick this up again. Its not like AB-InBev is hurting or anything.
NB: I also tried this beer in a Weizen glass, though I doubt the typical serving container will be a Weizen glass (more likely a plastic cup). I did not notice any real taste difference between the Weizen and the US pint glass.
Dave - September 20, 2009
Another Harpoon beer has crossed my path recently, Crystal Wheat. Lets see if it fares better then the Leviathan Saison Royale.
In the hefe-glass the beer was a crystal clear golden color, with tons of champagne-esque bubbles coursing through its body. With all the bubbles I was expecting a long head retention, which was not the case with the first bottle but was with the second. Strange.
Anyway, emanating from the beer were aromas of lemons. Lots and lots of lemons. This lemon barrage continues in the taste department. The lemon flavoring, though sour in some regards, reminds me more of artificial lemon-creme found inside donuts. I tried finding other aromas and tastes but they seemed to be mere illusions of wheat, more then anything else. One positive for the beer, it was quite light in the mouth.
If you are a fan of lemon flavoring, this beer is right up your alley. If lemon is not your thing, steer clear.
I enjoyed Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse a while back, and since Hopfen-Weisse is not a style done regularly by brewers, I was interested in finding out Smuttynose’s take on the style. The story behind the beer is Smuttynose Executive Brewer, David Yarrington, was invited to and asked to brew a beer for the wedding of a friend. He had been drinking Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse recently, and wanted to brew something similar, if not a little lighter. Lets see how it turned out.
The beer had a big, full white head sitting atop its hazy golden-orange body. As the head receded into the tulip glass, a web of heavy lacing was left behind. The head lasted for a few minutes and during that time I was able to enjoy the beer’s bouquet of floral hop, and spice, which danced between light hop spice and light hefeweizen spice. Neither of these aromas were overtly strong, but they enticed me greatly. In the mouth the beer was smooth and relatively light, with a menage of flavors washing over my tongue. A spice, floral, light-earth hop characteristic started the beer off, with a nice transition into a fruity-banana flavor, mixed with light bread. The finish had a mellow hefe-spice character to it, with an enjoyable aftertaste of fare length.
Overall a very enjoyable, sessionable beer, which I had numerous times during its “residence” at the local watering hole, with its nice balance of hop and hefe characteristics. The beer definitely would have made a pleasurable wedding gift and hopefully it will make it into Smuyttynose’s release cycle.
I’m really loving the look of some of the recent seasonal beers on the shelf. I’ve lately been complaining about the loads of new stouts that I’ve been seeing. However, on my last trip to the Blue Light, the shelves were teeming with craft summer ales and wheat beers! This, the Sam Adams Blackberry Witbier, was one of them. Sam Adams consistently puts out great limited edition brews, and I’m almost always pleased with their brews in the Brewmaster Series, such as this one…
The Blackberry wit pours a soft medium golden with a dense, thin white head. The beer seems exceptionally effervescent, sending a stream of tiny bubbles up from the bottom of the glass. In the nose, this beer is full of pungent blackberry aromas, along with just a slight sweet malt in the background. The taste of this fits perfectly with the aroma. The first sensation is a fizzy carbonation burn on the tip of the tongue. Shortly thereafter, there is a quick yeasty sweetness, followed by a rising tone of blackberry sweetness. In addition, the tangy aspects of the blackberry begin to rise, making a steady ascent through the mouth. Towards the back of the mouth, the full presence of the blackberry is realized, as is a soft maltiness to the flavor and mouthfeel lent by the wheat. All in all, the blackberry is the star here. It is ever-present in large doses in the mouth and dominates the flavor. However, this works out great. The blackberry flavor is well-balance, leaning heavier towards the sweet than the tangy, making this very palatable and oh-so-tasty. In addition, the higher carbonation levels give this beer a great texture and really make the flavor pop. Unlike many fruit beers, I could drink this for a week and never get tired of it!
We had a slight geographical error the last time we reviewed a Cape Ann Brewing beer. To redeem ourselves, in the eyes of our loyal sevenpack readership, I thought I would pick up a Cape Ann Brewing beer while I was in Cape Ann (Gloucester to be precise). Being early spring (at the time), I decided to go with their Bavarian Wheat.
The beer produced a very full two fingers of white head on top of its lightly hazed, orange-gold body. The head lasted for a good few minutes, allowing me to inhale all of the beer’s aromas. Wheat was definitely present, especially when the head was robust and full. A malt profile of fresh bread and biscuits and a yeast-coriander note, all begin to shine through as the head receded.
In the mouth the beer was smooth running along the tongue. Though wheat was present it was not as commandeering as I thought it would be. With this lack of wheat other flavors got to join the party. The yeast and coriander made their appearance, and so did the biscuit malt. This malt seemed lightly sweetened on the tongue. This sweetness mixes nicely with the beers banana flavor, which starts light but grows with time.
I found this beer enjoyable, even though it had wheat in it (I’m not the biggest wheat fan). I do believe this beer is about expectations however. If you pick-up this beer thinking it is a hefe (“Hey, it says Bavarian Wheat and wheat means hefe!”) you will be disappointed. If you are looking for something stylized like a hefe (the side of the label does read “bavarian-style wheat”), but with its own characteristics, you should be all set.
Word on the street is that this brew is only available by the sixer in the fine (though generally craft-brew deprived) state of Georgia. I can neither confirm nor deny this. However, I can tell you that, in the Old North State, the only way to get your paws on this beer is to pick up a Terrapin 12-pack sampler. I, for one, am super psyched about Terrapin releasing a sampler. It contains their Golden Ale, Rye Pale, Indian Brown, and Sunray – all killer beers. While it isn’t a cheap sampler at about $18, there isn’t a bad beer in the bunch. But, for now, let’s get on with the new beer…
The Sunray pours a hazy medium golden color, appearing rich but wheaty. The head is stark white and dense, but doesn’t really stick around for very long at all, so you don’t get to enjoy it at any length. In the nose, the brew is sweet and fresh, exhibiting hints of wheat malt and some sweet honey aromas with just a bit of citrus. The flavor of this is very easy to like. There is some sweetness here that is both citrusy and rich. I’ve learned that there is some honey in this brew, so that may help to explain the extra layer of richness I’m sensing. In addition, this runs very smoothly through the mouth, all the while carrying a light malt flavor with a yeasty addition that you’ll recognize from your favorite Belgian versions of this style. The aftertaste leaves us with a bit of sweetness, but it altogether washes pretty clean. I’d say this is a great wheat beer that will be very popular with both veterans and newcomers alike. It doesn’t set itself apart from other good Belgian wheats in a big way, but it displays itself very well, and it goes down so easy you’re liable to find yourself drinking a few of these.
I’ve duped myself. A few days ago, I got excited to see this new New Holland brew on the shelf. Despite the fact that I’m not really into wheatwines, I do generally like New Holland beers, so I was excited to give it a try. The problem is that I apparently had a similar feeling previously, as I returned home to find that I already had a bomber of this in the fridge. I really hope that I like this, as I’m now stuck with 2 expensive bottles of the stuff.
The Dole pours a rather dark golden color that borders on brown towards the center of the glass. The head on this is pretty dense and caramel colored, though it dissipates so quickly that I can’t get too much from it. In the nose, there’s a lot of caramel to the beer, and even a bit of chocolate, which strikes me as strange in a wheat-based beer. In the mouth, I find this to be a confusing amalgamation of flavors. There are big doses of toffee flavors and anise licorice hints in this beer. At the same time, there is a smoother malt flavor contributed by the wheat base. This makes for a beer that flirts with a lighter refreshing flavor, but then gets batted down by a rich and nearly abrasive barleywine flavor. It seems to alternate between soothing and smacking the tastebuds as it travels through the mouth. Frankly, I like my wheat wines wheaty and light, and I like my barleywines big and bodacious, so I’m not so keen on this confused beer. I know there are folks out there that love a good wheatwine (but there aren’t that many, now are there?). Regardless, this isn’t quite for me. It isn’t a bad brew, and the flavors seem well developed, but it just seems a bit conflicted. I’m a little sorry that I have 2 bombers of this – I wish I could trade one of them in.
So, after yesterday’s run-in with the Odell “90 Shilling” Ale, I must confess I have a bit of a man-crush on this brewery. They have a great portfolio of beer offerings, I love their bottle art and even the quality of paper used on their labels is superb – altogether, they offer a fabulous presentation. So, I’ve made some moves. I went ahead and got my hands on a couple more of their flagship offerings to review, and I’ve added them to my weekend “tour de force” of local Colorado breweries – with any luck, I’ll have something to write up about that, as well.
The Easy Street is an authentic American style, including a thick layer of yeast debris at the bottom of the bottle. In the case of this beer, like most wheat beers, you’ll want to be careful to agitate the bottle to get all of that tasty yeast into the glass. It also make the beer much prettier, trust me. Once properly poured, the Easy Street is medium golden and very cloudy, with a wispy white head that blows up and then quickly deflates to nearly nothing. In the nose, this beer is fairly unassuming. There isn’t anything pungent to the scent. However, if you really stick your nose in there, you’ll catch mostly hints of yeast, with some peripheral bits of wheaty malt. In the mouth, this beer starts at 1 and then turns the volume up to 11 as it travels through the mouth. Initially, it’s just light and mildly sweet on the tongue. However, as the beer slides down the tongue, the power of the yeast flavor expands greatly, being joined by some lemony flavors around the middle of the tongue and eventually, around the back of the tongue, presenting a quick shot of citrus sourness before sliding down the throat. In the aftertaste, the flavors on the tongue are simply remnants of the citrus and yeast, but the mouthfeel and flavor around the mouth indicates some remnants from the grain. Frankly, I like this beer more than I expected. I figured Odell’s would make a good beer, but I always lean heavily to the Bavarian hefeweizens and less towards the American counterparts. However, I feel that this represents an excellent hybrid of the two. It is lighter and a bit less yeasty than a Bavarian, with a bit less banana presence. However, it’s less metallic and more lemony than most American versions. Somehow, it falls right in the middle, being tasty and flavorful while maintaining a reasonable lightness in texture. And, thus, my man-crush with Odell’s continues…
Alright, you guys. As promised, here’s the second as-of-yet-unreviewed beer from the New Belgium variety pack that I picked up here in Boulder for the LOW LOW PRICE(!!!) of $11.99. I’ll warn you, I’m probably going to like this. A) It’s New Belgium, B) It’s a Belgian witbier style – two things that I’m wild about.
This one pours a hazy pale golden color with considerable debris, making this cloudy delicious. The aroma is chock full of the trademark belgian wheaty yeast strain that you’ll recognize from beers such as Hoegaarden and even Blue Moon. There is some citrus here, in addition, but the yeast is the standout, and it’s very nice. In the mouth, this is a full and flavorful wheat beer. Honestly, the mouthfeel of this is much bigger than most wheats. It forgoes the light and fleeting texture of many of this genre in order to pick up a pillowy and slightly sticky feel that coats the mouth well. Again, the yeast is a big presence here – it’s a flavor that I have trouble explaining, but any fan of Belgian witbiers will recognize immediately. It’s slightly sweet and blends well with the wheat malts that add an additional bready sweetness. In addition, there are definite hints of lemon zest and coriander, rounding this out and giving it a bit of extra pizzazz. In all, the flavors brought forth in the Mothership Wit aren’t novel or unexpected. However, the strength of the yeast complement and the texture of the beer in the mouth give it a fuller and more substantial presence than many in the genre. Personally, I think it’s a great beer, but it’s all relative. This one would not be my first choice if I were cooling off after a hot day, but it’s impeccable sitting on the couch with the frost outside on a Colorado night. So, it’s a great beer, but use it appropriately…
Hey guys. I know we don’t usually review brew pubs in these parts, but I went to an exceptionally good one tonight, and it’s my blog, so I figured I could break the rules a bit. So, I’m in Detroit this week for a bit of work-related hassle. I’m bound to foot travel for the week, and it just so happens that the Detroit Beer Company is just a few blocks down the road. Now, usually, brewpubs like this tend to have maybe one or two beers that are up to snuff and mildly impressive. The rest are generally passable, but lackluster when compared to the more refined or adventurous brews of larger American craft brewers. Detroit Beer Company, however, seems to have bucked the tradition. First of all, it’s a great atmosphere – this is an older building in downtown Detroit that is narrow and deep and has obviously been around for a few decades. Besides the requisite giant copper fermenters behind the bar, there is a myriad of flat screen TVs on which to meet all your sporting needs (Comerica Stadium is about a block away). They also have a tasty and fairly adventurous food menu. Now, the beers. I sampled three of what they had to offer. I started with a seasonal wheat offering they had on tap that I felt to be exceptional by brewpub standards. It was light and sweet with a medium citrus punch and little of the metallic aftertaste that often plagues smaller batches of this variety. It was extremely refreshing and, to be honest, I wanted to drink another. However, by this point, a rabid Tigers fan had sat down beside me – he happened to be a member of the ‘mug club’ – and informed me that the Detroit Dwarf is ‘the s***’. So, obviously, I needed to try the Dwarf. This brew amounted to a malty red ale with an extra dose of hop to give it a rather pronounced floral note. This brew could be compared to the Oskar Blues Gordon, albeit a bit weaker. However, at 6.8% abv, it’s still nothing to sneeze at. Finally, I finished off with their house IPA which, for a standard IPA, is pretty ballsy. It rings in at 6.4% abv, is cloudy and aromatic, and tastes very bitter and exceptionally fresh and floral – frankly, one of the better brewpub IPAs I’ve ever tasted. In closing, this place was a great place to stumble upon. My buddy convinced me that I might as well buy a $5 ticket to the Tigers game tomorrow night, he convinced me to try the Dwarf (I would’ve anyway), and I had some great Spaetzl and beer. Be sure to stop by here if ever in the bowels of the Motor City.
Greetings friends! We come to you from Western North Carolina with a review of a Highland seasonal, the Cattail Wheat Beer. Highland never disappoints, and this beer is no exception. While I would not categorize it as “complex”, it is most certainly drinkable. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all really want in a beer?
The beer pours (out of a 12 oz. bottle, FYI) a hazy, butterscotch color. There is little, if any, discernible head. There is hardly any smell emanating from the beer – it certainly seems straight forward from the get-go. The aroma has a good, wheaty essence, but nothing that stands out. Like most American wheat ales, there are hints of citrus as well. These are very subtle though. The flavor is where the citrus notes really stand out. Vibrant tinges of lemon, orange zest, and some more floral hops are present. I would certainly not describe them as jumping out at you, but they are there. The mouthfeel is airy and not heavy at all. It is undeniably drinkable – it goes down very smooth with little or no after taste.
Again, I wouldn’t rate this as a complex offering from Highland. It is a very good beer and would be wonderful for session drinking. One could certainly imagine enjoying this beer while staring out at the Black Mountains from a porch swing with a late summer breeze blowing through the air. Just as easily, this would be a great beer to have while watching your favorite band playing in front of you, too. While it doesn’t blow your mind like some beers, it does a good job of being a refreshing, delightful wheat that you can enjoy on these hot summer afternoons.
I’ve managed to exit North Dakota without trying all of the Summit beers that I hoped to drink. However, I couldn’t cross state lines without having a taste of their Belgian witbier. So, on my last night there, I loaded up a six-pack of the good stuff in my checked baggage and brought it on back. So, here I sit back in NC, having a taste of my smuggled goods.
This beer pours a light golden color that is full of dense debris. There is also quite a lot of carbonation here, enough that a thin white head maintains for the entirety of the drink, and there are perpetual streams of festive bubbles rising to the surface. The aroma of this beer is mostly citrus, although there is also a sweet wheaty aroma and that trademark yeast scent that comes with any good witbier. The flavor of this beer begins with a carbonation burn early on the tongue that quickly segues into a sharp and sweet lemon zest. This citrus flavor blends with a sweet yeast flavor and then merges into something that is more akin to an orange and coriander than any lemon. This new flavor sticks around and lasts all the way into the aftertaste where that citrus burn sticks around in the throat in a good way. Altogether, it’s a pretty simple but accurate Belgian witbier. There is a lot of citrus here, and I like the way it transitions from the lemon zest to an orange and coriander flavor. There is also a lot of that characteristic yeast flavor and enough sweet wheat to even everything out. I like this beer, and I’d say it’s a good score for Summit – I’m glad I smuggled five more back with me…