Beer Squared #14: Wheat Ales

Posted: September 6, 2011 in Beer Squared, Beer: Wheat Ales
Tags: , , , , ,

Wheat Ales

We’re giving another go to wheat beers while the weather is warm, but instead of the lagers we did last time, we’re going with top fermented ales. While Bob and I (mostly Bob) were grilling up some burgers in the backyard, we began our tasting.

I have to say, pairing wheat beers with being outside in the summer time is a winning combination.  This time we tried offerings from some very good breweries: Goose Island, Pyramid, and Bell’s Brewing.

Even though these three beers were all ales, they still had very yellow colors and did well even in the nastiness of St. Louis Summer. On a personal note, I still have  bias against wheat beers. I’m not sure why as I’ve enjoyed many of them. So I really enjoyed this round because once again, I had to face my biases head on.

Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale (4.2% ABV)

312 Urban Wheat Ale

Nik: I picked up this bomber when I was visiting my brother in law in Chicago the day before. It was on sale there at Whole Foods for $2.99. Well, I couldn’t pass that one up. I loved Goose Island’s IPA, so I’m willing to try anything of theirs really. This one has a very pale, but opaque orange color. Holding my glass up in the sulight, I could see the strains of yeast floating around the bottle. It has a very tight head, small bubbles. This beer was great for drinking while we were grilling. Its flavor is very light, crisp, and refreshing, i.e. a wonderful summer beer, even though it has a slightly sour flavor. I’ll definitely be looking for this one again.

Bob: Extremely pale yellow color in the glass, with an almost pure white, long lasting head. Little to no hop aroma. Very light and pleasant tasting, with a uniquely refreshing tanginess that lingers in my mouth. A great beer to drink anytime during the summer months. Although this bottle came directly from Chicago (Goose Island’s home), I’ll be definitely be looking for it on St. Louis shelves now that Goose Island has been acquired by A-B Inbev. (Ed Note: I forget where it was, but I did see this in sixers in St. Louis. I want to say at Schnucks on the Hill.)

Pyramid Crystal Wheat Ale (5.3% ABV)

Crystal Wheat Ale

Nik: This beer has a very small head a very weak nose. It also had a very thick flavor…even though it is only a 5.3% beer…it felt like I was drinking 7% or higher. I just really couldn’t get into this beer like I could the 312. I’ll be passing on this beer in the future.

Bob: Deep golden color in the glass, with a small head that disappeared quickly. Has a rather strong taste and body for a wheat beer–not unpleasant so much as simply strong tasting. It hits you upside the head and you definitely know you are drinking something alcoholic. Not a lot to recommend here, so I won’t be going out of my way to pick up any more of this one.

Bell’s Oberon Ale (5.8% ABV)


Nik: I love Bell’s Brewing. I really don’t know how anybody could like beer and not love them, so I was excited to try this one out. I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed by this offering from Bell’s. They have put out one beer I didn’t like at all, but this one isn’t it. It poured out a very nice head with a weak, but very nice aroma. It’s very clear without any protein strains. I know that many wheat beers have those, but I love to look at clear beers. Like the 312, it has a very crips and refreshing taste, but it’s got a stronger bitter flavor than the slightly sour 312, which makes this one my winner of the day.

Bob: Pale yellow color with a thin but persistent head in the glass. Very cloudy toward the end of the bottle, which is not unusual for a wheat beer (something to do with long chains of protein molecules.) Exhibits a mild and pleasantly fruity aroma that foreshadows a distinctly complex taste, with noticeable bitterness on both first sip and fairly long lasting aftertaste. Pleasantly rich malt and body, which make this a very pleasant beer for sipping, not gulping, at nearly any time of year. I’ve come to expect a lot from the folks at Bell’s, and they certainly deliver with this one.

  1. Eric says:

    I agree with Nik, i was not a huge fan of pyramid wheat. It was ok, but couldnt get into it. But their apricot is pretty amazing and the seasonal jaugernaut. I am going to have to try the 312, sounds like a refreshing wheat, and I love wheat beers.

  2. Yeah, I’ve seen 312, along with a number of Goose Island products, showing up at different Schnucks locations recently.

  3. The 13 Blog says:

    @Eric Definitely. It wasn’t as good as the Bells Oberon (But what ever compares to Bells anything?)

    @Carl I need to keep my eyes open. I’ve only had two Goose Island beers, 312 and their IPA, and I’ve loved them both. I need to find more.

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