Reviews

Wheat Wars

Last month, a friend-of-a-friend put together a great mixed case of Wheat beers for a bunch of people – 24 total varieties in all – across the 3 key summer styles of wheat: Hefeweizen, American Pale Wheat Ale, and Witbier.  These cases were all purchased from Waywood Beverage in Kennett (man, I have to check this place out).

These beers were reviewed in no particular order, but have been categorized here first by their Style, and then by my overall Score, to help compare and contrast those within similar Styles.  I’m using a similar scoring method to that used on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer – 10% for Looks/Appearance, 20% for Aroma, 40% for Flavors/Taste, 20% for Mouthfeel, and 10% for Drinkability.

Now I will say that I’m usually not that interested in reading others’ personal perspectives on a particular beer, but with so many similar summer wheat styles available all at once, then why not?!?  I hope it’s useful to you in finding a couple gems within each category that you may enjoy, too…  

All beers were poured into a tall Weizen-style glass at around 45 degrees, warming into the 50’s during the review.

Hefeweizens

Sly Fox Royal Weisse – 9.3 (BA: B+, RB: 99)

L: Pours with a booming and dense white head over a very cloudy golden-to-brown body.  Great retention. [10]   A: Good dry peppery/spicy aromas, over citrus. [8]  F:  Doesn’t get much better than this.  Creamy smooth, with orange and lemon, and just a touch of coriander and vanilla-like sweetness. Think “creamsickle in a glass.”  Good tartness in the middle, with a lightly bitter hoppy bite at the end. [10]  M:  Mouthfeel is superb – smooth with a nice finish, which is just crisp enough to keep you coming back. [9]  D: Drinkability is outstanding – you could really chug this beer, but why would you?  Well worth savoring. [9]

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier – 9.1  (BA: A, RB: 100)

L: Pours with a half-glass full of sea foam-like white head over a semi-opaque, dirty golden body.  Plenty of effervescence.  Decent lacing. [10]   A: Aromas are rich in ripe banana, clove-like phenols, wheaty yeast, and some coconut sweetness in the back. [10]   F: Pretty smooth across the palate.  Banana flavor comes through the strongest, with a nice balance of spices, light lemony tartness, and whole grain bread. [9]   M: Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, with just a touch of carbonation – was hoping for a little more. [8]   D: Very easy drinking beer.   Nice balance of flavors, and smooth mouthfeel.  Although this particular one seemed to lack some of the top-notch characteristics that I’ve come to enjoy in most previous Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbiers. [9]

Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse – 9.0  (BA: A-, RB: 99)

L: Pours with a booming 4-5F head – really impressive. But the body is a relatively clear golden color. Strangely unrepresentative. [7]   A: Great aroma – back on track. Clove, banana, with a touch of bubble gum,  yeast, and even a little cardboard as well. [10]   F: Terrifically smooth across the palate to start. Rich, ripe banana, light pepper and clove. Touch of yeast in the finish. [9]   M: Decent carbonation to break things up, but never gets in the way. [9]   D: Drinkability is large – among the best. [9]

Hofbräu Münchner Weisse – 8.1  (BA: B+, RB: 90)

L: Pours with 4f of snow-white head over a very cloudy, white body – more reminiscent of a Witbier than a hefeweizen. Tons of carbonation flowing up. Good amount of foamy lacing. [9]   A: Aromas of lemongrass, and wheat. [8]   F: Very refreshing on the palate – flavors are light and citrusy – mostly lemon up front, with a light white pepper in the finish. [8]   M: Very wispy/ light (maybe too much so?), and finishes crisp and clean. [7]   D: Big points for drinkability – I flew through this one and wished I had a five-pack more. [10]

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen – 8.1  (BA: A-, RB: 99)

L: Great half-glass full of foamy white head over an opaque golden-to-brown body.  Decent lacing. [9]   A: Rich, sweet spices (clove, nutmeg) greet you in the aroma with a bit of banana and decent amount of yeast in the background. [9]   F: Tangy, citrusy fruit grips the palate up front, clove spices then take over in the middle, and finishes with a citrusy pull. [8]   M: Fairly light/watery overall on the palate – this one didn’t quite have the level of carbonation that I’m used to from Paulaner’s Hefeweizen. [7]   D: Easy drinker – but I’m not sure what’s going on with this particular one … seemed thinner and lacking some of the full flavors I’m used to.  Freshness says it’s good until 4/11. [8]

Stoudts Heifer-in-Wheat – 8.0  (BA: B, RB: 97)

L: Pours with 2-3 fingers worth of soapy white head over a semi-opaque, dirty-golden body.  Lots of carbonation flowing up. [8]   A: Pleasantly balanced aromas of ripe banana, and spicy German yeast.   Touch of butterscotch sweetness in the back. [9]   F: Malt forward with sweetness.  Banana popsicle, pancakes, and little bit of lemongrass. [8]   M: Smooth up front, slightly watery with solid carbonation, but ending with a light cloying finish from the sweetness. [7]   D: This is a fine example of a hefeweizen.  Has all the right characteristics.  Maybe slightly thin, but a great summer beer nonetheless. [8]

Left Hand Haystack Wheat – 7.1  (BA: B, RB: 80)

L: Pours with a pretty weak white head over a fairly cloudy (but not opaque) golden colored body.  Touch of carbonation flowing up. [4]   A: Aromas of ripe banana, clove, and maybe a touch of some other non-discernable spice. [8]   F: Tart and tangy up front – light lemon twang, but quickly smoothing out into banana bread.  Healthy amount of German yeast comes through in the finish. [8]   M: Little more carbonation than I generally like, but not overpowering or prickly.  Little bit thin. [6]   D: Drinkability is a tick above average – a really nice interpretation of the style. [7]

High Point Ramstein Blonde – 6.6  (BA: B+, RB: 93)

L: Pours with just 1-2 fingers of white head over a fairly clear golden body, with plenty of effervescence.  Head fades quickly, and leaves no lacing. [2]   A: Good aromas – leads with sweet clove spice and blends to fried plantains and yeast. [7]   F: Flavor is OK – lemony, earthy, and just a touch of clove/spices.  Good ripe banana comes through, especially as it warmed.  Pleasant yeasty quality.  Touch of pepper as it warmed as well. [6]   M: Mouthfeel is fantastic – creamy, with a great level of carbonation for the style. [9]   D: Very drinkable… Nice flavors – maybe a touch too lemony which doesn’t pull me back immediately for yet another sip, but it’s not pushing me away by any means. [8]

Victory Sunrise Weisse – 6.3  (BA: B+, RB: 99)

L: Pours with a massive 4F full of frothy white head, over a fairly cloudy – but not opaque – dirty gold color.  Tons of tiny bubbles floating up. Lacing is really nice. [8]   A: Sweet spices, wheat, and citrus hop aroma.  Not terribly strong, but good. [8]   F: Prickly on the palate, with lemon, wheat crackers, and celery – lacked most of the clove-like spice characteristics of a good hefeweizen… more APWA, in my opinion [5]   M: Decent carbonation.  Finishes dry, and pretty thin / watery for the style. [6]   D: Fairly easy drinking, but again, the lack of some flavors and body took away from the overall enjoyment. [7]

Erdinger Hefe-Weizen – 6.0  (BA: B-, RB: 81)

Bottle boasts that this is “the world’s #1 Hefe-Weizen”… we shall see.

L: Pours with the classic booming foam-like head so often seen in German hefeweizens.  Body doesn’t quite have the opaque golden quality, but it is murky from the yeast.  Decent carbonation.  Head fades to film pretty quickly, with touch of lacing. [8]   A: Worked hard to pull out the aromas on this one.  Fresh bread, lemon zest, and a hint of clove. [5]   F: Everything about the flavor was tame, too.  Citrus is more present than the typical banana, some German hop bitterness, and evaporated milk-like sweetness.   This almost seems more like an American Pale Wheat Ale than German Hefeweizen. [6]   M: Little bit thin/watery for a good hefeweizen.  Lacked some of the creaminess you’d expect to see.  Decent level of carbonation. [6]   D: Overall, nothing offensive, but also not one of the better representations of the style [6]

Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen – 5.5  (BA: B-, RB: 44)

Rating this one as a Hefeweizen, since that’s how Harpoon labels and markets it.

L: Pours with a decent sized bright white head over a somewhat cloudy golden body.  Some carbonation, but not much lacing. [7]   A: Mostly yeast in the aroma (but very light overall), with some spices and a touch of citrus. [6]   F: Lightly flavored, with mostly spices.  Wheaty flavor, with just a hint of lemon zest. [5]   M: Medium bodied, but a little thinner than the best in the style, with moderate carbonation.  [5]   D: Good on the drinkability meter.  Decent overall in the world of American wheat based pale ales, but is subpar for good hefeweizens. [6]

Magic Hat Circus Boy – 5.5  (BA: B-, RB: 36)

Rating this as a Hefeweizen, since that’s what they claim on the label – not an American Pale Wheat Ale

L: Pours with an impressive foamy white head, but the body appears a bit too clear for a hefeweizen. [8]   A: Had to work hard to pull the aromas out of this, but it did contain faint levels of banana esters and yeast, with just a touch of spice – mostly white pepper. [6]   F: Flavor is ok – refreshing, at least.  Bit of a strange spice quality seems to lead the way, with some banana cream pie (sans creaminess). [5]   M: Mouthfeel is thin and tinny.  This is what sets everything else back. [4]   D: Good on the drinkability meter – pretty clean flavors, and nothing offensive.  Just lacks some of the rich and flavorful profiles of a good hefeweizen. [7]

American Pale Wheat Ales

Bell’s Oberon Ale – 7.9  (BA: B+, RB: 99)

L: Pours with 2F of white, tiny-bubbled head over a well-clouded yellow-to-golden body. Some lacing. [8]   A: Meaty wheaty malt aroma, with a lightly sweet tangerine orange accompanyment. Some cinnamon as well. [7]   F: Rich & thick on the palate, with plenty of doughy yeast, coriander-like spice, juicy, citrusy hops. Honey sweetness. Nice lingering aftertaste of orange peel / zest – almost orange soda like. [8]   M: Velvety, with a finish that is rather oily and rich – my favorite aspect of this one. [9]   D: Good drinkability – but it is filling for the style. [7]

Smuttynose Summer Weizen – 7.1  (BA: B-, RB: 87)

L: Pours with a decent sized fluffy white head over a washed out golden body – good cloudiness. Tons of majestic effervescence. Some foamy lacing. [9]   A: Aromas are nice – leads with fresh clove, followed closely by wheat, and finishing with a light/dull flowery citrus. [8]   F: Hits the palate smoothly, with more tart lemony quality than the aroma suggested. Good base of wheat malt. Light white pepper. Slightly smoky aftertaste. Pretty dry mouthfeel and finish. [6]   M: Relatively drinkable / enjoyable for the style. [7]   D: Aromas were my favorite characteristic of this one. [8]

Arcadia Whitsun – 6.8  (BA: B-, RB: 92)

L: An aggressive pour yields no head over a chill-hazed orange body.  What IS this thing?  Scattered bubbles flowing up. [5]   A: Orange peel and coriander punch the nose hard, leaving an impression of high alcohol hop bomb.  This one is not unlike some IPAs and even double IPAs I’ve had.  Sweet citrus candy as it warmed. [8]   T: Definitely some tangerine peel in the flavor.  Fairly juicy, with a decent bite on the palate.  Not as firm as the aromas suggest. [7]   M: Crosses the palate quite thinly, esp after those aromas.  Finishes with a bit of film on the tongue. [6]   D: Decent drinkability – not a chugger, not a sipper.  Interesting beer overall – no off flavors, but the carpet doesn’t seem to match the drapes. [7]

Southern Tier Hop Sun – 6.7  (BA: B+, RB: 98)

“Brewed with 1 type of hops, and 3 types of malts”… for what THAT’S worth.

L: Pours with a respectable 3F of sea foam white head over a very clear peach colored body, with no visible carbonation.  Slight chill haze.  Unique. [7]   A: Heavy hop profile – thick apricot aroma, and some pine.  Very sweet fruity esters.  Also unique / interesting. [8]   F: Flavor follow the unique look and aroma, but something’s not quite right.  Citrus comes through strong, mostly apricot again.  Decent sweet malted quality tries to keep up, but to no avail.  Soapy bitterness prevails in the end. [6]   M: If it’s possible to be both thin and cloying, then this one is it.  Comes across the palate relatively thin/tinny, but leaves a light coating / film on the tongue. [7]   D: Drinkability is a little rough, in that it feels like an 8%ABV beer, even though it’s under 5%.  That being said, it is by far the most pronounced set of flavors I’ve ever experienced from a beer below 5%. [6]

Witbiers

Avery White Rascal – 8.8  (BA:B, RB: 85)

L: 3 fingers worth of prickly, white foamy head over a semi-opaque dirty-gold colored body.  Nice lacing. [9]   A: Good amount of spiced aromas – white pepper like.  Lemon and orange peel citrus comes through next.  [7]   F: Flavors are really well balanced.  Just enough sweetness to counter the tartness of the citrus. Plenty of Belgian malty goodness.  Decent amount of spices – nothing too strong. [9]   M: Mouthfeel is spectacular.  Smooth, as a Wit should be – with just enough carbonation and rich yeast to keep it from being watery. [10]   D: Drinkability is huge – the well balanced flavors combined with a silky smooth mouthfeel make this one that you could enjoy all night. [9]

Great Lakes Holy Moses – 8.5  (BA: B+, RB: 92)

L: Pours with a huge foamy white head over a perfect looking opaque golden-to-gray/brown body.  Decent lacing. [10]   A: Aromas are strong – lemon/lime citrus with some coriander, yeast and honey. [8]   F: Smooth across the palate, with flavors following the aromas pretty well … lime citrus, with yeast and coriander, but instead of honey sweetness, I’m picking up wheat bread in the middle, and a distinct hoppy bitterness in the finish. [8]   M: Smooth and creamy up front, with enough carbonation to cut through and leave a dry finish, at least relative to others in the Wit style. [9]   D: Quite refreshing – a full bodied Wit with a great balance of flavors. [9]

Ommegang Witte – 8.2  (BA: B+, RB: 96)

L: Pours with a huge 3-4 fingers worth of soapy white head over a perfectly white/blond colored body, with film-like opaqueness.  Small amount of lacing, and decent amount of carbonation flowing up. [8]   A: Clean, coriander spice-laden aromas with touch of dull navel orange. [7]   F: Smooth up front, with white pepper, sweet spices, unsweetened lemonade, and a touch of smoky quality in the finish. [8]   M: Perfectly carbonated, with a dry and palate-cleansing crisp bite in the finish. [9]   D: Very drinkable, and incredibly refreshing – solid example of the style. [10]

Wittekerke Wit – 7.5  (BA: B, RB: 74)

L: Pours with a substantial 3F of powdery white head over the whitest body I’ve seen this year in a Wit. Somewhat cloudy, but not opaque. Great lacing. [9]   A: Aromas of yeast, white pepper, and plastic/baby diaper (unfilled). [6]   F: Lightly spiced bite, with fairly grassy and herbal flavors – light bitter hoppyness. Touch of dull orange citrus – fair amount of fruit sweetness. [7]   M: Hits the palate smoothly, and lightly tart in the finish. Pretty juicy mouthfeel overall. [9]   D: Nice drinkability – smooth on the palate, and a little touch of everything (bitter, sweet, tart). Not one of the best Wits around, but I could see enjoying a six pack of this one. [8]

Leinenkugel Summer Shandy – 7.2  (BA: C+, RB: 39)

Technically, this is categorized as a Fruit-Infused beer, but for the sake of this blog, we’re lumping it into the closest category to its’ characteristics: a Wit.

L: Beautiful pour yields a massive, foamy white head over an opaque and perfectly dirty gold body.  Lacing is terrific. [10]   A: Smells like a 7-Up.  Sweet (sugar), lemon-lime citrus, and some cracked wheat in the back. [7]   F: Flavors of lime, lemon, and some yeasty character buried in there.  Fair amount of white pepper as it warmed – actually gives it a bit of blueberry character in the finish. [6]   M: Starts somewhat prickly on the palate, but smooth overall in the mouthfeel – maybe too much so… almost like a “hard lemonade”. [8]   D: Drinkability is high due to the smooth mouthfeel, and refreshing flavors.  A great Gateway beer for the light beer drinker in your circle. [8]

Abita Satsuma Harvest Wit – 6.9  (BA: B, RB: 55) 

L: Pours with a healthy and foamy white head over a perfectly colored body – murky white/golden color. [10]   A: Aroma is a little weak, but has most of the right characteristics.  Navel and tangerine oranges, light peppery spice, hay, and some earth. [6]   F: Comes across pretty smooth, with plenty of orange forward flavors.  Light hop bitterness, and some honey sweetness to balance. [6]   M: Mouthfeel is pretty creamy up front with some peppery bite in the finish. [8]   D: Decent drinkability for the style –, but doesn’t hit on all marks for me. [7]

Flying DogWoody Creek White – 6.0  (BA: B, RB: 88)

L: Pours with a fairly short, white head over a nicely cloudy, light yellow/white body. [6]   A: Faint peppery, lemon, and wheat aromas – had to really pull them out. [4]   F: Crisp on the palate, with a light peppery flavor. Tap water. Aluminum twang. Not enough sweetness. [6]   M: Crisp mouthfeel – thin, and not nearly smooth enough to be a good representation of the style. [7]   D: This one is fine on the drinkability meter – nothing offensive, and pretty darn refreshing. Just didn’t have all the elements of a good Witbier. [8]

Coronado Orange Avenue Wit – 6.0  (BA: B, RB: 44)

L: Hard pour yields minimal soapy, white head over a lightly clouded yellow body with some carbonation present. [5]   A: Mostly spices in the aroma – coriander, pepper, with cracked wheat and faint hint of bitter hops. [5]   F: Decent flavor mix which seemed to lean toward an orange-pepper-coriander mix which ends up strangely tasting like blueberry.  Not a bad thing.  Touch of honey sweetness is baked into the background. [6]   M: Good Mouthfeel – lively carbonation cleanses everything at the end, leaving you ready for more. [7]   D: While the aromas and flavors were about average, this one comes through with good marks on drinkability, nonetheless. [7]

Best in Show:  Sly Fox Royal Weisse.  I’ve had this many times before, and always enjoyed it, but it shocked me that my scores ended up higher than the Weihenstephaner and Franziskaner. 

Best Surprise: Avery White Rascal … I’ve had this before, and really disliked it.  But it’s been a few years, and this one was really impressive.

Biggest Disappointment: Victory Sunrise Weiss… Never really noticed much about this one before, but in the comparisons, I was surprised at how low I ended up ranking it.

Most Interesting / Unique: (tie) Arcadia Whitsun and Southern Tier Hop Sun … both were quite hop-forward and complex, with a significantly different flavor profile than all the others.

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One Response to Reviews

  1. ChadOlish says:

    The Avery, Arcadia, Southern Tier and Sly Fox in my opinion were the cream of the crop. I am committing to a case of the Southern Tier and Avery next year.
    Conversely, the disappointing beers of the group were Abita, Magic Hat, and Coronado; any rating higher than a 5.5 for any of them is absurd.

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