Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Favorite Wheat Beers

A good summer style, wheat based beers like Hefeweizens and pale wheat ales fit nicely in the middle of a good session (especially in warmer weather).  Also, this style is a very palatable for those beer drinkers that do not lust over hops and just want a flavorful, yet drinkable beer.  Without further adieu, a few of my favorite wheat beers.

New Glarus Dancing Man Wheat (7.2% ABV)

It Dances In Your Mouth
Dancing Man has the highest alcohol content among my recommendations, but that does not deter you from enjoying the awesome flavors integrated in my favorite New Glarus brew (just a sign to not drink too many in one sitting, especially if you are driving). I love the cinnamon notes prevalent at first taste, with a solid body backing up the initial spice flavors.  Illinois readers, make the trek up 94 and hit the Woodman's in Kenosha while this summer seasonal remains in stock.  Wisconsin readers, you have been depriving yourself if you have yet to pick up this perfect summer beer.  This beer has an A rating among my fellow hop heads at Beer Advocate without possessing a major hop presence.

Bell's Oberon (5.8% ABV)

Great Summer Beer, Readily Available
Not consuming it at every bar I see it at this summer (and trying to avoid bars where this is the only option or one of a precious few good options), I have grown to enjoy Oberon again.  For me, Oberon is the perfect ballpark beer, meant to be enjoyed outside during warmer weather.  A smooth drinker that leans more towards the pale ale side, Oberon has a balanced wheat taste blended with subtle citrus notes.  A good gatekeeper beer for those initially getting into craft brews, Oberon maintains its quality even with its greatly increased market penetration in the Midwest.

Summit Hefe Weizen (4.9% ABV)

Highly Recommended On Tap
One heads up, I much preferred this beer on tap and you will likely only see this on tap at places that focus on craft beers (at least for the non-Minnesota readers of the blog).  However, you can enjoy this out of the bottle, especially for the purposes of just having a beer or two and not participating in an all-out session.  A standard hefeweizen with citrus notes combining with a solid wheat body, this is another good beer in a line of consistently solid Summit offerings (and Summit is often one of the most affordable craft beers at $6-$8 per six pack).

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen (4.8% ABV)

Another Great Sierra Nevada Offering
I definitely missed out on enjoying Kellerweis this summer as this is probably my second favorite wheat beer (next to Dancing Man).  I love the lemon flavor that immediately jumps to the surface, backed up by a balanced body that makes each sip consistently delicious.  Somewhere I will find and enjoy this on-tap, but in the meantime I should make a point to pick up a bottle or six when I need to re-stock my fridge.

Three Floyds Drunk Monk Hefeweizen (5.5% ABV)

A Great Find
A "tame" offering from my favorite Munster, IN crazy brewers, Drunk Monk is an excellent hefeweizen and I would love it if Three Floyds decided to bottle this during the spring or summer.  A nice combination of citrus and wheat flavors, this is definitely a beer that can be here the next minute, gone the next without much thought. There is no single dominant flavor that jumps to the surface (like cinnamon for Dancing Man and lemon for Kellerweis), but the balance of the brew is outstanding and for me this is the true Three Floyds summer beer.  This is the easily the hardest one of the group to find (it's tap only and distributed only to the best of beer bars), but should be celebrated if you can find it.

Honorable Mention

It's probably not for everyone, but Left Coast's Tangerine Wheat was a nice change of pace for me.  The tangerine power is very prevalent (some may say overpowering), but it went down very smoothly and works well as a change of pace from heavier beers.

I loved Founders Dumbohead (aka Founders Festival Wheat) during a small sampling of it, but it was a rare release that is not even a regular among Founders brewpub line-up.  Thought to be created as an homage to Gumballhead, it is much superior to its namesake.

I hope that New Glarus's Black Wheat re-enters their line-up at some point, as that was a fun and different beer and I would like to enjoy a pint size offering of this (just had a small sample like Dumbohead).

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