Arts & Culture / Mosaic / May 18, 2011

Wheat beers for warm weather

With the weather warming, so does the preference of many for beers — from winter’s porters, stouts and other high gravity, heavy beers to lighter, more refreshing beers. One strong candidate for a light, refreshing beverage is wheat beers. Wheat provides beer with a sweeter and less heavy base than typical beers, making it an ideal option when you are in the hot sun.

Hinterland Door County Cherry Wheat: This wheat beer has fresh cherries from Door County, Wisc. added for additional flavor and refreshment. It pours orange to copper, perfectly clear with an impressive head. The smell features significant wheat with just a hint of dark cherries. The taste starts with a short wheat flavor, then the cherry comes in.

The cherry is not overly sweet, which is the problem with most non-traditional kriek beers. The cherries taste very fresh and there is just the perfect amount. The beer finishes with the wheat again in a long finish. The wheat tastes very hearty, almost like shredded wheat. The beer is solid but it leaves a gritty sensation on the tongue and I taste a metallic-like off flavor. Both of these take away from what could be a very solid summer brew.

Sprecher Hefe Weiss (4.2 percent alcohol by volume (abv)): The hefewiezen style is quickly becoming one of my favorites and this one looks just like it should—cloudy and straw colored. The aroma features wheat malt, citrus, clove and banana. The beer, however, tastes like harsh, carbonated water. Then the wheat comes in, and finishes with banana. I was really disappointed by this beer. All the proper flavors are there, but it’s just too watered down, making it taste like beer-flavored seltzer water.

New Glarus Imperial Weizen (9.6 percent abv): At 9.6 percent this beer has to be an imperial version. It looks cloudy yellow, with a white quarter-inch head that lends itself to impressive lacing. Lemon, orange, wheat and clove are in the aroma. It doesn’t have your typically hefewiezen smell, but it’s still nice.

The most distinguishing feature of the taste is the hops, which are not a common flavor for this style. But as the bottle explains, “Do not waste time attempting to box this brew into some esoteric guide to styles.” The Cascade dry-hopping provides a very unique, but very enjoyable flavor. Other than the hops, there are citrus, clove, bubble gum and even cinnamon present in addition to the wheat malt. It is an extremely unique, tasty and refreshing beer, even though it is nearly 10 percent abv. Dan Carey, co-owner of New Glarus Brewing Company, brews another winner.

John Christiansen

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