Beer appreciation is not linear; it's circular. First you love beer naively, out of a simple joy. Then your head gets filled with a bunch of crap about what's "good" and you begin disliking beer out of a blind prejudice. Finally, you come back to appreciating beer for its own nature. – Jeff Alworth
I reached the third stage of Jeff Alworth’s beervana this week. IPAs trapped me in a room with a painted sunset on the wall. The scent of Cascade hops flowed through the ventilation shafts. Why ever leave?
But then I did. No more would I drink only the quadruple dry-hopped-aroma-hopped time bombs that were manipulating my taste buds.
Wheat beers are out there in the sunny fields. They’re waiting to be tasted!
With my first real taste of this type, I realized what Alworth discovered: beer is beautiful. Not for the hops, nor for the malts; holistically
wonderful, a spectacle that should be respected in all its dimensions.
Wheat beers appeal to most of us in a very unique way. They are sweet. They taste of a grain that we ate with peanut butter and jelly.
I used to drink Fanta by a public pool in Marin County during the summer. That is what wheat beer means to me.
No other beer can do that in such a way. When we try any beer for the first time as boys and girls, the taste turns us off. My very first sip was of a Budweiser, and I hated it.
But not so with wheats. Wheats bubble with memories of cooling towels on sweaty foreheads. Of Sunny Delight after a tee-ball game. Of lemonade by the pool.
Drink the following, and enjoy the nostalgia of beer.
- Starr Hill’s The Love—Starr Hill Brewery, Crozet, Va.
The Love is a German hefeweizen, brewed with Munich malts and Bavarian wheat beer yeast. Thus, it has the typical banana smell associated with such beers. Think banana hard candies. It can initially repel those who only drink lagers or pale ales.
I find the beer to be quite crisp and delightful. It’s an acquired taste, but give this 4.6 percent ABV brew a try. Its taste is sweet with a very subtle kick of cinnamon on the finish.
The story of “The Love” originated from a friend of the master brewer “sharing the love” of a secret wheat-beer yeast from Germany.
It’s available year-round, but drink it during spring and summer.
- Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Beer—Lost Coast Brewery, Eugene, Calif.
Remember how I mentioned Sunny D? This beer smells just like it. It has that tangy orange soda quality. The addition of juice in the production process explains it.
Technically both this beer and the below are “fruit beers,” meaning those brewed with fruit. We can argue about the distinction, but let’s leave it for another time.
I also love the label on this one. It’s a man in a suit…with an orange head. Who wouldn’t love that?
As for the taste, it is drinking orange soda by the pool. Tangerine Wheat is a lounge chair beer for both men and women. It’s incredibly light, dry, and crisp, with a flavor of orange cream and zest. Delicious!
- RJ Rocker’s Son of A Peach—RJ Rockers, Spartanburg, S.C.
Immediately, the aroma is of gummy peach rings. I want to drown in my pint glass.
Son of a Peach is a wheat beer brewed with peaches at 5.8 percent ABV. The orange haze invites me to sip deeply. When I do, the beer seduces my taste buds with a juicy, creamy blanket.
The peach is muddled in the flavor, but I definitely detected papayas. The unfiltered body has the texture of papaya juice.
Try all three of these beers this year. Break out of your narrow prison! Seize new weizen glasses by the base and never look back.