October/November 2004, A Wit Tale
(download print edition)
back her head and laughed, open-mouthed and loudly. The suburbanites
shifted in their seats. pretending that their attention hadn't shifted,
suddenly and completely, to the woman at the edge of the bar. She sipped
a bitter beer and finished a slice of pizza with the raw seductiveness
only a rugged farm girl can have. The beer tasting was about to begin.
Hop-Jack and Magistrate, who moonlight as certified beer judges, were
already there, reliable and professional. Vinny, bnving finished slinging
a final few pizzas and specialty italian dishes to eager customers,
meandered over, nodding to regulars and shaking hands like a pro. New
Kid, comparatively new at homebrewing - about 4 years in - and new to
the tastings, saddled up to the tasting circle.
tasting featured wheat beers, and that was all the tasters knew. After
their compliments were complete, the beer they had just tasted was revealed
before the next arrived unmarked into their hands.
great for a change," Spicy said, "because normally beer
smells awful." Vinny took the beer on a ride across the ocean
and guessed it was an American wit, "not earthy enough"
to be Belgian. GONG! Magistrate agreed that the beer was nice
and soft, lacking some of the "Big Belgian" flavors.
This mellowness was a plus for Hop-Jack, who is not a big fan
of wheat beers. Still, New Kid pointed out, between the cloudiness
and the sweet orange, lemon zest, citrus flavors, there was no
question that this was a classic wheat beer. It was unintrusive
enough to be a good introduction to the timid and classic enough
to be enjoyed by the style's fans.
more 'foot' in the nose," Vinny announced, which some people
thought was a Weird thing to say until it was explained that wheat
beers can be like good cheese: stinkiness is a valued attribute.
"There are lots more flavors in this," Hop-Jack said,
making a face. "It's more adventurous." Magistrate noted
it had a bigger body, a tart finish and more spice, particularly
coriander. The tartness accelerated as the beer warmed, New Kid
pointed out. It was a beer that wine lovers could appreciate,
he added, dry with nice spices. And an aftertaste that pleasantly
lingers, Spicy said.
time there was also banana in the nose, Spicy said. Hop-Jack sensed
phenolic qualities at first, but those, he said, quickly gave
way to bubblegum and banana after a few swirls of the glass. The
mild bubblegum notes, a classic flavor of wheat ales, increased
as it warmed. This was a sweeter beer, but not cloying or unpleasantly
sweet. "A lot of sugar," Vinny said, "brown sugar.
Nice. Gives it a rich body." Magistrate agreed that it had
a big body for a wheat beer and seemed to be quite high in alcohol.
The noticeable yeast added more classic wheat ale qualities and
flavors. New Kid added raisin and melon to the after-flavors of
this big, spicy wheat.
complex nose, there was some classic element that everyone could
point out without repeating someone else: spicy and yeasty said
New Kid, bubblegum said Spicy Woman, and Magistrate added sour.
It was highly carbonated, spritzy on the tongue. While cloudy
like the others, Hop-Jack pointed out how it was two-toned in
the glass, lighter at the top, darker at the bottom. "Clean,
bubblegum and a little banana," Hop-Jack said succinctly.
The flavors were enjoyable, Vinny said, but not entirely complex.
New Kid added that it was, nonetheless, intensely flavored. The
pleasant intricacies of the beer continued in the aftertaste in
which tasters detected tartness and more banana notes.
as your Octoberfests by Nov 1 and we will review them in the next issue.
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by Janet Hinkel,
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2005, Great Lakes Brewing News