Sunday, May 8, 2011

Smuttynose Summer Weizen

There are quite a few common beer drinking practices I morally oppose, and one of them is putting fruit in a beer. I will not, under any circumstances, soil a beer glass with a slice of lime or orange. If I am served a beer with fruit in it, I will remove the fruit immediately and demand to see the manager. Seriously, if you need to put a piece of fruit in your beer, it probably means the beer sucks. It’s not that I don’t get the point of the fruit - it generally cuts an excessively wheaty or otherwise offensive flavor profile (or in the case of Corona, it gives the beer all of its flavor!). But a really good wheat beer doesn’t need the fruit. It’s balanced to begin with. Smuttynose’s Summer Weizen is a case in point. It’s by category an American pale wheat ale - an Americanized version of the German Hefeweizen. Made with domestic and continental wheat and barley malts, light hops, and a Belgian wit yeast, it compares favorably to outstanding American craft summer ales like Samuel Adams Summer Ale and Bell’s Oberon. But unlike, say, a Blue Moon, it balances its high proportion of wheat malts with mildly sharp hops and a zesty lemony finish. Ahhh! It’s refreshing and as wicked smooth as a summer beer should be, but rarely does one encounter a wheat ale with such tremendous complexity. Of course the wheat taste is front and center, but biscuity malts and an herbal, grainy finish add a lot. And the bottom line is that great brewing is about getting all the little things right - this is a Weizen that’s perfectly in balance. There are lots of beers that are generally of this style - and to tell you the truth I’m not a huge fan of wheat beers overall. Most of them are just a little “off” in some small way. But this one is so spot-on in every respect, and it may be my #1 favorite warm weather brew. There’s nothing like sitting out on the deck on a warm summer night, firing up the grill, listening to the Phillies game on the radio, and knocking back pints of Summer Weizen. Okay, actually I don’t have a deck. Or a grill. But if I did, you know which beer I’d have loaded in the cooler.

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