Tag Archive: Wheat Ale


Wild Beer Co Of The Sea

Wild Beer Co: Of The Sea (England:Wheat Ale:7% ABV)

Visual: Yellow gold with a thin white dash of a head.

Nose: Bubblegum. Calamari. Slightly salty.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Raspberries. Slightly rubbery. Oily. Mussels. Salt. Crab paste. Slightly cloying. Bubblegum. Sour cream.

Finish: Raw eel sashimi. Slight brown sugar. Slightly rubbery. Slight cardboard. Charred bitterness. Thousand Island Dressing. Sulphur. Salt. Lemongrass.

Conclusion: Ok, first up – It has been ages since I had lobster – I tend to use my available funds on expensive beer more than expensive food, so it is not something I am much of an expert on. So, when this is inspired by lobster bisque, I really can’t tell you if it matches that. However, I have tried to match the closest flavours I could find while drinking this.

It, well, it isn’t a total train wreck, I will say that. Though admittedly that is never a good start to a set of notes. It is pretty much the second worse “damned with faint praise” after “It doesn’t taste like Hitler’s putrid puss filled jizz”. So, let’s move on and examine the beer shall we?

Well, to concentrate on the positive – solid toffee base with some tart raspberry edges, nothing too intrusive, a solid back for the unusual character to work from. Also, there is definite seafood character – kind of calamari, crabs and mussels. They have completely dedicated themselves to this thing’s seafood concept.

Ok, right, so, the downsides. This is really rubbery and salty – not in an awesome Islay kind of booming way, More in a kind of sulphur filled, bringing the beer down with off flavours kind of way. In fact there are a lot of off notes, maybe they are intrinsic to the seafood being used to make it, but they taste very similar to mistakes during the brewing process.

Overall, in the seafood notes that work the crab paste and calamari are the highest and most dominant. The other dominant notes, well there is a bubblegum and lemongrass like character, which actually makes me think a lot of the Sorachi Ace hop – no idea of they used it here, but the tastes are similar. I love that hop, but the flavours here make it feel more artificial which is something this beer really doesn’t need.

So, I love the idea, and dig the innovation, but – this beer really doesn’t work. Sorry.

Background: I have no idea what style this is. There isn’t an acknowledged seafood category that I am aware of. The bottle mentioned a large amount of wheat being used, so I’ve shoved it under Wheat Ale. I also considered spice/herb/vegetable beer, but that seems to ignore the main point of it. I also considered traditional ale, as that is a good catch all, but this seems pretty much the opposite of traditional. Anyway, this was a beer I was excited to try for sheer audacity, but was nervous it was going to suck. The reason why is kind of simple to see – this is and ale made with – Cockles and lobsters, kombu (edible kelp), dulse seaweeds, sea salt, saffron and star anise. I love Wild Beer Co’s innovation, though as of recently they have been about 50/50 with on if they actually work. Sometimes their ideas outreach their ability to implement them. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Anthrax, Amongst the Living.

Wiper and True Wheat Beer White

Wiper and True: Wheat Beer: White (England: Wheat Ale: 4.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy lemon juice with large white mounded froth head. Moderate carbonation. The head leaves lace.

Nose: Jiff lemon. Key lime and fresh wheat character.

Body: Lightly earthy. Light lime and key lime pie mix. Kiwi. Pepper. Wheaty. Empty middle. Sulphur. Apricot. Soft lemon.

Finish: Earthy notes and bitterness. Wheaty. Light salt character. Kiwi. Sulphur. Apricot.

Conclusion: You know, if I had salt I would add a few grains to this. Chris from Independent Spirit has mentioned several times that it can help with weak mid body beers. I have never tested it but trust his knowledge on such things. Unfortunately I don’t currently have any salt. Yes I am a freak. I just don’t actually use salt that much so never have any in. Probably for the best for tasting note purposes. Adding extra bits may be cheating.

Anyway, as you may have guessed from the above, this has a thin middle. A pity as the aroma, though simple, promised a lovely mix of wheat character and green fruit hops. I mean, that is, in fact, the body you kind of get, backed by earthy and spicy notes – however most of the notes are very lightly done, and the body is slightly thin, which means that the earthy, simple wheat body dominates. I was hoping the loss of the other notes was due to excessive coolness, but I have given the beer plenty of time to warm and to no avail.

It really is just a case that the fruit notes of the aroma are there but too weak to do any good. It does feel like just a small raise in intensity would shove the whole beer from bad to decent or better. It doesn’t have to be super intense, just a a modest raise.

So, a rare beer from Wiper and True that I don’t like and in general a weak beer, so not that much to say here. It is sulphurous and earthy and even feels a tad watery, combine that with a slight salt note in the finish and it occasionally tastes slightly sweaty. So, not a good beer, very much not a good beer.

Ah well, no company bats 100%.

Background: I’m a big fan of Wiper and True, so much so I refer to them as “The Kernel of the west country” – not tried any of their wheat beers before. Was glad to get to use the wheat ale glass again – it is probably the least used of the three beer style designed glasses I was given at Christmas by craft beer sis. Drunk while listening to various Miracle Of Sound tracks.

Fortune Islands Modern Times

Modern Times: Fortune Islands (USA: Wheat Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain to gold. Moderate off white tight bubbles head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Pineapple. Stewed banana. Peach. Lightly creamy. Light gherkin.

Body: Moderate bitterness. Slightly gritty texture – granite. Light pineapple notes. Light lime. Lemon sherbet. Pink grapefruit and stewed fruits.

Finish: Kumquat. Leaden bitterness. Cloying lychee. Sour dough. Lemon sherbet. Slightly gritty.

Conclusion: Wheat ales are a hard one to pull off – odd as both Belgian wit and German hefeweizen are amongst my most appreciated styles, but the wheat ale often seems to be the poor cousin, coming in a tad leaden and dull.

So, this is the beer to change all that, right? That is why I mentioned it? Erm, well, they do try. Very hard. The aroma is light, fresh and fruity and a very good start to the proceedings.

The body takes a bit of time to get going. Initially the more gritty and leaden elements of the wheat base seem to dominate. There is a light fruit character there but the dominant base just overwhelms it. At this point I was ready to give the beer a right kicking.

Time helps it out a bit – the initial citrus notes were too light, but over time they build up and bring the ale closer to its German and Belgian cousins. The base still feels too leaden though – it needs a lighter touch there but overall it does manage to come together just about.

At this point you have a heavier end of the scale feeling wheat beer soothed by tropical fruit – it still feels slightly too base, and gritty like licking a pavement at its lowest points. So, with some good high notes and some bad low notes, overall it is pretty much just an average ale. Ok but doesn’t make anything special. When it is good it just about matches the body, when it is bad it is rough. So, not really worth giving a shot.

Background: Saw this available and decided to grab it as it promised a hoppy twist on the wheat ale, which sounded interesting to me. That is about all I knew about the beer going in. Drunk while listening to Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes. Mainly “I Hate You“. Repeatedly. Which may give you a sign of a state of mind I was in that you need to take into account when reading these notes. According to the can this has 46 IBU, a final gravity of 1.008, and is made with Citra and Amarillo hops.

Brewdog Weihenstephan India Pale

Brewdog: Weihenstephan: India Pale Weizen (Scotland: Wheat Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice. Large white bubbled head. Low carbonation.

Nose: Pepper. Crisp. Wheat. Mild kumquat. Some bitterness. Dried apricot. Coriander.

Body: Crisp and bitter. Wheaty. Milky biscuits. Dried apricot. Paprika. Soft lemon sherbet. Medium bitterness. Hop oils. Fruity yeast esters. Coriander.

Finish: Clean. Wheat. light bitterness. Milky biscuits. Soft lemon. Palma violets. Kumquat. Hop oils. Watermelon hard boiled sweets.

Conclusion: Hmm, ok, I’m creating a new rule one: Lets not compare this to Weihenstephaner hefeweizen. Not just because of how much I love that beer, but also because style wise they are not as close match as you may expect. The more traditional elements of this actually remind me more of Czech lagers than the German hefeweizens – possibly due to the beer being more clear than your average hefeweizen. Anyway, the beer itself is an interesting one- the base it works from is solid, but almost milky at times – there is this kind of crushed milk biscuits taste and texture to it.

The Czech lager impression comes from an attached softness to the feel, and the soft lime and palma violets flavour. Even without looking at any other elements the quality lager like elements give me a feeling that this is what Weihenstephan brought to the table as it really is their strong point. The wheat adds to the feel, mixing with that almost milky style to create a taste not entirely unlike the fruity Belgian esters, making for subtle extra complexity to the beer.

The IPA elements, such as they are, are actually quite restrained compared to the hoppier hefeweizens that have come out recently. It adds extra dried fruit flavour and solid bitterness without going overboard. It shows an unexpected level of hop restraint from Brewdog and is very well done.

The base of the beer, that slightly milky thing, is the only real bone of contention – The rest is spot on with class and style – the milkyness is interesting, but, depending on temperature, can seem a bit heavy compared to the other elements. This becomes less of a problem as it warms, and as the other flavours build up – but early on it seems slightly out of place. This is a beer where the more you drink, the better it gets.

And not just because you are drunk.

A very well done mix up of styles, with some flaws, but even with that a classy brew.

Background: Hmm, style pick out time again. IPA or Wheat Ale? Hmm, Wheat Ale seems fair, it is a looser category and this does have a wheat beer base, though I’m unsure if it is ale or lager based. Anyway, a team up between Weihenstephan who make my all time favourite hefeweizen, and Brewdog, who my lack of objectivity and love of is well known here. So I was excited. Drunk while listening to some spektrmodule as it helps me chill out after a hard day’s work.

Ticketybrew Brewdog Coffee Wit
Brewdog: Ticketybrew: Coffee Wit (England: Wheat Ale: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon to apricot. Small white dash but no real head.

Nose: Stewed fruit and coffee. Maybe apricot in the stewed fruit. Light funky yeast. Slightly musky with a touch of sulphur to it.

Body: Mild cold filter coffee. Funky yeast. Lemon sherbet. Carrot and coriander. Apricot. Slightly fizzy and with a chalky touch.

Finish: Malt drinks. Coriander. Bitter and wheaty. Slightly chalky. Slightly soured touch.

Conclusion: I’ve never been quite sold on coffee in wheat beers. Ok, by never I mean I have tried it once, I’m trying to create a back story here. Leave me alone. The use of coffee seemed to contradict and clash with the benefits of a wit beer, and end up stomping over each others elements rather than complimenting them.

This seems a bit of a better example, there is some soft apricot sweetness and stewed fruit which survived in the main beer, the coffee feels almost cold filtered in style so works much more subtly in the background. It isn’t perfect, there is a chalkiness to it which I’m not quite sure if is needed. Normally a touch of chalkiness can be ok as a grounding to a big beer, but this doesn’t seem to need that, so it seems like a bit of an odd note. Similarly you get a slightly soured touch on the way out with the same issues.

Now while it does balance the coffee and main body better, it still has some of the same problems I have with the style – a lot of the subtle lighter notes are lost, as coffee is a strong flavour, and the coffee elements added don’t seem to give enough to the beer in exchange.

It does keep a bit of the base wheat, in fact the almost carrot and coriander remind me of the Belgian style wit I think it is trying to call to – and that is enough to keep my attention, but not enough to really make me recommend this. I have a feeling any wit to go this way would need to be brewed big to survive, and I’ve not seen any manage it yet.

Background: I have only had one experience with a coffee wheat beer before, and I wasn’t quite sold on it, however I am not one to be put off easily, so when this, the seventh collabfest 2014 beer came up I was intrigued to see if I found it more to my liking. So yes, a wheat beer, with coffee, not much else to say. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Hobo Pop

Brewdog: Hobo Pop (Scotland: Wheat Ale: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Reddened gold. Thick, slightly off white frothy half inch of bubbles. Very little carbonation.

Nose: Pineapple. Mild fluffy hops. Citrus fresh. Light crushed custard cream biscuits.

Body: Good hop prickle. Custard cream biscuits. Toffee. Greenery touch and resin. Slightly dry. Lime touch. Sugar dusting and a sherbety feel at times.

Finish: Greenery and bitterness. Charring. Backing of hop oils and resin. Drying as bitterness rises.

Conclusion: I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Maybe it was because of low expectations, this year’s prototype set hasn’t been getting rave reviews, but I actually enjoyed this one. It is admittedly of quite simple bent, but for that it manages to combine a light citrus touch, moderate hop character and good late finish bitterness to a very lager feeling base.

It is actually quite odd that it isn’t a lager – using American Ale yeast as it does, and more than that, that it has both wheat and rye, as none of those are particularly prominent. In fact it feels more like a quality lager accentuated by good hop use and bitterness than actual attempts at that style like Mikkeller’s American Dream, or Brewdog’s own Vagabond Lager. It doesn’t let the citrus dominate, nor the bitterness. The mouthfeel is rich enough with a slightly dry edge and it provides toffee and crushed custard cream biscuits sweetness to offset the dryness.

Now it isn’t a special, jump out at you beer. It more feels like a natural progression from the aforementioned beers. More evolutionary than revolutionary.

Despite that I was very satisfied to drink it, and would happily press it into the hands of lager drinkers as it takes the strengths of Vagabond, Fake Lager, and just a hint of the (admittedly far superior) DogWired and delivers a balance between the three (in an ale!)

Not a showy prototype but I would say a good one.

Background: This years three prototypes from Brewdog. I should have a new year resolution not to have a backlog of Brewdog reviews. I’m blaming the Japan backlog and Collabfest for that one. Anyway, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This one is made with wheat and rye and brewed with American ale yeast. Drunk while listening to my Bad Religion collection on shuffle.

Festivus

James Street: Festivus (England: Wheat Ale: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Lemon juice to cloudy apricot body, yellow touched large creamy head that leaves sud rings as it descends.

Nose: Crisp lemon and coriander. Lemon curd. Carrot. Wheat and dried apricot.

Body: Lemon. Thick texture. Cinnamon. Cream and vanilla. Toffee. Fresh orange. Sweet pineapple touch. Wheat and crisp hops.

Finish: Apricot crumble and cinnamon. Lemon sherbet. Wheat. Crisp bitterness and hops. Orange juice. Light lime.

Conclusion: This is pretty much a real ale Hefeweizen to my eyes, all those lovely citrus fruit fresh weizen flavours delivered with a thick still real ale texture. Lots of creamy and sweet notes at the back, touch of light spices and crisp bitterness. This works brilliantly as a mash up of the two worlds.

The flavour is amazingly refreshing and lasting, all fruit juice citrus freshness up front and tail end. The sweetness you get is sandwiched between those two ends meaning that your opening and last memories are those fresh flavours and so the sweetness never gets sickly.

While the main range James Street ales so far have ranged from average to good this is their first stand out beer that knocks it out of the park. I have, quite shockingly for me, nothing bad to say about this beer. The texture is great, the flavour is wide ranged and balanced, the bitterness is muted but crisp. If you held my hands to the fire and insisted I criticised it I would say that its flavour would be perfectly suited for a slightly lower abv as then it would session brilliantly, but it is entirely possible trying to do so would ruin the perfect balance it has. As such it would be churlish to hold that against such a flavoursome easy drinking pint.

I hope this becomes a regular beer as it could quickly become my “Pint of the usual” at the Bath Brew House. If you see it on, then grab this as an absolutely great beer.

Background: Another beer from the new Brewpub “James Street Brewery” at the Bath Brew House, this one a special release temporarily added to their line for their official grand opening. So temporary it seems that it did not even get a new tap handle to itself. Bath Brew House is going from strength to strength at the moment with great atmosphere, fun staff, and a nice mix of craft and real ale. The only down side is finding background information on their beer is hard, from the taste and look it seemed very weisse beer style but in a cask real ale style. At a guess I’m calling it a wheat ale since I can’t find any info to help me narrow it down, if anyone can help out with more info please let me know. This was drunk just before meeting a fellow craft beer fan at the pub and having a nice discussion of the joys of good beer. As always I love the look of the dimple glass mugs, even though they are probably slightly less efficient as a tasting glass for some beers.

Happy Ending
Brewdog: Lovibonds: Happy Ending (England: What Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Light banana gold with a dash of white head.

Nose: Lemon. Lime. Crushed mint leaves. Very fresh. Lamb broth. Wheat. Belgian yeast character. Cucumber.

Body: Lemon. Smooth, saison like character. Peppermint and peppers. Gentle warmth. Gingerbread. Red peppers and sweet chilli. Banana notes. Marmalade.

Finish: Gingerbread and lemon. Mint. Dry Belgian yeast feel. Banana sweets. Peppers.

Conclusion: This is the most refreshing of the collab fest beers so far and perfectly timed for it to, it is like the halfway point of a hefeweizen and a saison. We are talking summery refreshing as hell. Like most of the beers so far today it also feels like that have tried to cram in everything and the kitchen sink when making it.

With flavours including lemon, mint, peppers, everything shouts out its flavour and everything wakes you up, even after heavy dark beers before. For some of the time it is almost overpowering as there is so much hitting your tongue at once. It is good for a quick wow of character, but hurts its ability to work as the refreshing beer it is as the flavours can quickly become intrusive.

Still, when drunk after a few stouts and Black IPAs this still punches through and that saison weizen mix initially is very impressive. It is however best taken in a limited amount, the amount of spices is just insane, at times even giving the feel of a broth overstocked with condiments.

So, a bit excessive, but has its place in a drinking session. It is all spice all the time, warming ginger, fresh lemon and consistent pepper over a saison character. Quirky, overpowering on a technical level, but it has its charm.

Background: Collab Fest 2013! Every Brewdog bar collaborated with a local brewery to make a beer for the fest, resulting in a grand total of twelve beers released over one weekend. So, what could I do? Normally I limit myself to two of three reviews in a session, but these would only be on for the weekend. So, for you, my readers, I sat in one eight hour stint, drinking thirds, with a glass of water and a chapter of Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone between each drink to help clear my palette. I suffer so for you. This was the seventh beer of the day as I continued to chat, this beer is a wheat beer with lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves and cardamom. Happy Ending is a somewhat innuendotastic name which made me chuckle not at all, honest, I do not have a filthy mind. With this being a lighter beer I took a longer gap before having this one, and even more water to clear out the tastebuds. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Drink Sun 1 4

Mikkeller: Drink In The Sun 2013 1.4% (Denmark: Low abv wheat ale: 1.4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy peach skin to gold. Large off white mounded bubbles.

Nose: Passion fruit. Wheat. Hops. Lemon and meringue. Apricot. Peach. Musty berries.

Body: Robust bitterness. Grapefruit. Lemon. Apricot. Custard cream biscuits. Tangerine. Gooseberry.

Finish: Bitter hops. Sour grapes. Granite. Apricot. Custard cream biscuit.

Conclusion: So, returning to the Drink in the Sun beers, this time at a slightly bigger abv (a whole whopping 1.4% !?!) which proves to make it a bit more beer like in character. Now, considering that my only real flaw for the 0.3% version was that it occasionally did not feel beer like, especially with the tea and tannins at the end, then could this be the new, all time great, low abv beer?

Well, it has definitely lost the tea and tannins, replacing it with a robust hop character which is very welcome. However for some reason the huge fruitiness of the beer has been toned down as well. Now there is still fruitiness there, but nowhere near the insane wow factor of the 0.3% version. It is similar to the 0.5% version of nanny state where the hops are bigger than the fruit. Now if they hadn’t brought so much fruit in the 0.3% version I would have just considered that the cost of doing low abv businesses but since they obviously can I wonder why they did not. Anyway, the fruit here is brighter and more full bodied that the nanny state version, these feel more bright yellow fruit while that was slightly tarter fruit to my mind. Still it is a close enough comparison.

This is very beer like, and still reasonably fruity, but for all its tannins flaws I would say I prefer the 0.3% version as it is brighter and more pure in its delivered flavour. Now this does have a fuller feel to the body, more passion fruit and more rounded, less fresh and bright. It feels like a missed opportunity in some ways, if they could match the freshness of 0.3 with the body of this it would be the new all time great low abv beer, as it is its still nice wee low abv beer, and very good for the style. It just lacks that little bit to push it make it live up to its potential.

Background: Low abv beer hunting used to be a chore, or a way of wading through chemical nightmares. However recently I have found a few enjoyable low abv beers, so I am on a bit of a hunt for them. I recently tried the ultra low 0.3% abv version of this beer, and was looking forwards to seeing what the hugely robust 1.4% version would be like.

Drink in the sun 0 3

Mikkeller: Drink In The Sun: 2013 0.3% Version (Denmark: Low ABV Wheat Ale: 0.3% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Large white mounded froth that leaves lace.

Nose: Apricot. Pineapple. Custard crème biscuits and moderate hops. Mass market ice cream. Coriander.

Body: Apricot. Moderate bitterness. Fresh lemon. Tannins and tea. Pineapple. Orange juice. Custard sweetness. Passion fruit.

Finish: Tea, tannins and hops. Slight lemon and pineapple. Some bitterness. Passion fruit.

Conclusion: The quest for a great low abv beer continues, and in this hunt in the darkness I have found this from Mikkeller.  This beer actually sits nicely between my prior two picks stylistically in addition to a distinct Mikkeller character of its own.

The hops are well used to compensate for the low abv, very fruity and fresh, I would say in a Nanny state style but these are much smoother and more rounded in flavour. From aroma to early body there is a bomb of citrus hops and sweet flavours. It is almost like a hoppy fruit juice. Then as the hops fade out we get the element that causes me to make my second comparison, that being to the Erdinger Alcohol free beer.

The similarity comes in the tea and tannins like flavours. I’m guessing that the flavours were always there but early on the hops hid them. As with Erdinger it is interesting but not what I am looking for in a beer. With the two being wheat based beer I am wondering if this is a characteristic of wheat beers at that low abv.

This however is better that Erdinger by far, more pronounced  hops and beer feel early on really sells it as an actual beer, if a slightly strange one. If they could find some way to keep that feel and flavour throughout the entire beer then it would easily be a new favourite of mine.

As is I am still impressed, while it isn’t perfect it is the most beer like of any of the super low abv beers I’ve tried and pleasant beer to drink when you don’t want alcohol. The citrus burst is enjoyable by any standard, if obviously not rocking with the big abv guns.
Not bad at all.

Background: I’m eternally on the hunt for good low abv beers, though with very mixed results. Mikkeller are generally awesome.  Thus this seemed like a good chance to get a low abv beer I can really enjoy. At 0.3% it is nigh taking the piss, which amuses me. They seem to have done many different versions of drink in the sun. I have a few bottles of the slightly higher abv 2013 version for sampling at a later date to compare.

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