Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Changing - and Sometimes Wincing - Face of Wheats

I'm normally the last guy to complain about additions to wheat beers. I couldn't stop talking about Papago Brewing's orange vanilla wheat after the 2006 Great American Beer Festival. And 21st Amendment Brewery's watermelon wheat was, to me, the standout wheat of the 2007 gathering. The peculiar taste, added strongly enough to give character without saturating the unfiltered body, makes a beer stand out in this genre.

But what exactly is the new fascination with adding pomegranate to beer? First Fort Collins dashes the taste into its Major Tom's wheat just enough so that you can feel a slight tinge of something extra but not really taste a mouthful of the fruit. Then, last night, I got to try a Serenac Pomegranate Wheat. Serenac, a brewery most familiar to East Coasters, makes a wonderful black and tan and other enjoyable beers. The pomegranate wheat, however, was like a syrup, so sweet that I actually found myself sipping, stopping and staring at the glass to make sure there weren't any seeds in there. I love breweries who experiment, and anyone who does should get extra points just for their originality. But I think the pomegranate trend has just gone too far.

Lastly, I must give props to Breckenridge's Agave Wheat, celebrating its first full year in existence by becoming a beer that I hear more and more members of the Fearless Tasting Crew talking about. It's slightly citrus overtones perk up the wheat and give it kick rather than make you pucker. That's what a fruit-infused wheat should be, nothing more.

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