Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Friday, July 06, 2007

It may never cool off again here in Lansing, Michigan. It may never rain again. It has been in the 80s and sunny for so long that I don't remember the rain. My yard looks like the "grassy area" of Camp Pendleton (think scrub grass and desert).

But when you're drinking a tangy summer wheat, who cares??

I have been trying to review summer-y beers as typically, though I do love a porter and a stout, heavier beers are a bit too much for summer heat. Thus, today's sample is Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat. This is not, however, an AMerican Wheat Ale like we saw with this post. This is actually, at least in my estimation, another form of a Belgian beer called a Witbier, or, White Beer. More on that later.

As any good Wit, this offering poured a cloudy straw-yellow with a short, thick, white head that had some great staying-power. It left some lacing down the glass, though I think the lack of lace was due to my improper glass-washing technique than it was to a weakness in the beer, given the veracity of the head.

Right away, it smelled of very tart citrus, like lemons and limes, not oranges. There is another spice in there that I can't really put my finger on, but knowing a Wit, I am betting is was coriander. Overall, this smelled fruity and sweet and slightly floral.

I got a mild wheat character in this beer, though maybe a little mroe than I expected for this style of beer. There was a touch of hop bitterness, which walks the line of appropriateness for a Wit, but in this beer, it was just enough without covering the spiciness. It finishes with lemon zest and a nice wheat twang. Definitely crisp, refreshing and medium-bodied.

Overall, this was a decent Wit. It had the requisite sweetness, spiciness and tartness but it pales in comaprison to the Gold Standard of Witbier, Hoegaarden. Hoegaarden is what this offering from Leinenkugel wants to be when it grows up. That said, this is a solid "intro beer" for the non-beer drinker lulled into complacency by Miller and Bud. This is a decent pick for a more veteran beer drinker that wants something light and summer-y. A benefit of this over Hoegaarden is the price; this beer won't set you back much, but is still something that can be enjoyed by any "level" of beer drinker. Decent, just not mind-blowing.

Some notes on Witbier, accurately and competently done in Wikipedia:

Witbier, or White beer (French : bière blanche) is a barley/wheat beer brewed mainly in Belgium, although there are also examples in the Netherlands and elsewhere. It gets its name [White Beer] due to suspended yeast and wheat proteins which cause the beer to look hazy, or white, when cold. It is a descendant from those Medieval beers which were not brewed with hops, but instead flavoured and preserved with a blend of spices and other plants referred to as gruut. It therefore still uses gruut, although nowadays the gruut consists mainly of coriander, orange, bitter orange, and hops. The taste is therefore only slightly hoppish, and is very refreshing in summer. The beers have a somewhat sour taste due to the lactic acid. Witbier differs from other varieties of wheat beer in their use of gruut. Witbier is also often made with raw wheat, as opposed to the malted wheat found in other varieties.

6 comments:

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 9:37 PM  

As I mentioned once before, I had a 6 of this beer a few weeks back. It is very refreshing.

I thought it tasted orangey, but I will accept the citrus description. I thought it was often a little too citrus tasting, especially when drinking it after a meal.

It really is a great beer tough. I think it will be one of my summer staples. I guess I am a novice beer guy, because wheat’s like this beer are up my alley. I just don’t really like a seriously bitter beer.

Currently I have in the fridge:
Great Lake's Burning River - per your recommendation
Great Lakes Elliot Ness - I like a lot.
Bell's Rye Stout - a bit bitter for my taste.

This weekend I had a locally brewed beer in Douglas, Michigan, which is the closest microbrew to Guinness I have ever drank. Dark, tasty and not very bitter at all. I will research more info.

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 9:42 PM  

Dammit! I drove right passed this brewery this weekedn and didn't stop! It would have made Mrs. Bob and my weekend perfect.

http://www.sbrewing.com/

I am guessing I had the "British Best Bitter". A "Good Session Beer". I agree.

Smitty 7:56 AM  

Bob:

WHat is the name of the brewery? I am eagere to try their beer...

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 8:56 AM  

Saugatuck Brewing Company

http://www.sbrewing.com/

Not sure if it's distributed or not.


MY NEW RULE: Whenever traveling look up all local breweries before reaching the destination and place visit of said breweries on vacation itinerary.

Smitty 9:41 AM  

That's a fantastic rule, bob. In fact, for Christmas, Mrs. Smitty got me a book of all of Michigan's breweries, with maps and a beer list. It is in the car.

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 12:03 PM  

"...for Christmas, Mrs. Smitty got me a book of all of Michigan's breweries, with maps and a beer list. It is in the car."

Hmmm. I am coming up with an idea for a weekend roadtrip. We will need to rent a van, get a driver, and plan a route to maximize the number of brewries.

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