Flavor adventures - Departing Daily
Cheers to Raspberry and Hefeweizen!
We're excited to announce that two of our UFOs, Raspberry and Hefeweizen, were recently named two of the top 59 beers in the country! Click on to keep reading more about the competition, but in the meantime, get you some.
There was a time, in those heady craft beer days of yore, when seemingly every American brewery was producing a “wheat beer.” Those crisp but unfiltered beers largely fell into the “American pale wheat ale” category, and were consummate brewpub staples, along with the likes of amber ale, American pale ales and brown ales. You couldn’t visit a Midwestern brewpub in the early 2000s without finding a “wheat ale” on tap, probably served with a lemon wedge plunked into it. Today, as with so many other styles, the use of wheat in craft brewing has evolved. The American pale wheat ale is still a valid style, typified by the likes of Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat or Bell’s Oberon, but it’s not nearly as universal as it once was.
German-style hefeweizens have come on strong in American brewing, partially supplanting beers that were once made with cleaner fermenting American ale yeast. Fruited wheats have long been popular, as brewers use the relatively mild flavor profile of American pale wheat ales as a blank canvas to work with raspberry, blueberry, mango, watermelon and dozens of others. Hoppy wheats have grown in popularity, sometimes blurring the line between true wheat ales and wheated session IPAs. And of course, wheat beers have been hugely affected by the rise of sour beer styles in America, as the vintage German beer style of Berliner weisse received a popular American makeover typified by strongly tart beers.
As a result, to keep things more or less fair, we settled on the following: American pale wheats and German hefeweizens are allowed. Fruited beers are also acceptable, as long as they’re not marketed as sours. No Belgian wits, as they seemed to have an advantage. No “wheat IPAs.” Obviously no wheatwines, or imperial wheat ales. Just some good old fashioned wheat beers. So let’s get into it.
All of this makes the question of blind tasting wheat beers a question of which beers one should include. A tasting of solely American pale wheat ales seems a little boring, but at the same time it seems patently unfair to allow beer styles such as Berliner weisse into the mix. In fact, the last time we did this, it was Belgian wits that tended to dominate the proceedings.
As in most of our blind tastings at Paste, the vast majority of these wheat beers are sent directly to the office by the breweries that choose to participate, with additional beers acquired by us via locally available purchases and the occasional trade. We always do our best to reach out to breweries we’re aware of that make exemplary versions of particular styles, but things always do slip through the cracks. We apologize for a few significant omissions—Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat being one of them—that we couldn’t acquire due to it not being present on the shelves in our local market. There will never be a “perfect” tasting lineup, as much as we try.
- As explained above, this is a tasting of American pale wheat ales/German hefeweizens. Belgian wits were not allowed, after they overperformed in the previous wheat beer tasting. Sour beer styles such as Berliner weisse were not allowed. Fruited examples were allowed, as were “hoppy wheats.” The cut-off: If the beer is labeled as “IPA,” it can’t be in this tasting. The alcohol limit was set at 7% ABV
- There was a limit of two entries per brewery. The beers were separated into daily blind tastings that approximated a sample size of the entire field.
- Tasters included professional beer writers, brewery owners and beer reps. Awesome, Paste-branded glassware is from Spiegelau.
- Beers were judged completely blind by how enjoyable they were as individual experiences and given scores of 1-100, which were then averaged. Entries were judged by how much we enjoyed them for whatever reason, not by how well they fit any kind of preconceived style guidelines. As such, this is not a BJCP-style tasting.
To read the entire article, click here.