Latest posts by makeitsnowondem (see all)
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- Oscars 2019 Preview: I Have Eaten The Polar Bears That Were In Your Ice Cap – February 23, 2019
You can probably use your fingers to count the genuinely distinctive beer styles invented here in the United States, even if you’re Jim Abbott. American brewers have shown a terrific facility for re-invention, for better (American IPAs!) and worse (the “great pilsner taste” of Miller Lite!). New ideas are fewer and farther between, probably because the rest of the western world had a head start of several centuries. There’s steam beer, or “California common” if your brewery doesn’t happen to be Anchor Brewing Company, holder of a trademark on the word “steam.” There’s cream ale. There may be one or two others I’m missing. Then there’s wheatwine.
I’ve heard people dismiss wheatwine as a mere subset of the English-born barleywine style, essentially just barleywines with a bit of wheat malt added. These people are not to be listened to; they’re insufferable snobs and killjoys, which wouldn’t even be so bad as beer enthusiasts go, except that they’ve made the choice to be insufferable snobs and killjoys despite having clearly defective tastebuds. A wheatwine tastes wildly, vibrantly different than a barleywine. It’s generally lighter, fruitier; it bursts on the palate in the way the relatively sedate English and American barleywines just don’t. There still aren’t a lot of breweries making these sort of beers, either, which is too bad because I really dig every one I get to try. Smuttynose appears to have brewed the first one. Boulevard makes a very good one in Harvest Dance, New Holland’s Pilgrim’s Dole is even better. And I’m pleased to report that the wheatwine I’m trying today, White Oak, from The Bruery, is an especially fine example.
The Bruery is a Southern California operation, probably most famous for its Black Tuesday imperial stout and variants thereof, including the So Happens It’s Tuesday that I just missed getting my mitts on this week. Oh well. The Bruery’s name incorporates the name of its founder, Patrick Rue, and is pronounced exactly like “the brewery,” which is a huge pain in the ass when you want someone to understand that you’re talking about The Bruery and not just some brewery. I can’t overstate how much this annoys me. It’s caused me near-physical discomfort more than once. But The Bruery also makes some really excellent beer, and their first week of distribution in Central Texas is another important milestone for the local beer scene.
White Oak is a hazy honey-gold in the glass. The fluffy white head dissipates with predictable speed given the wine-like ABV of 12.5%. Let this one warm up a bit before serving, for sure; you’ll want to be sure you get the full range of flavors. There’s tart apple and honeydew melon from the wheat malt, caramel from the barley, and the usual results of bourbon barrel aging at its best: vanilla, oak wood, graham cracker, and, well, bourbon. Hops aren’t a major factor here, with no significant contribution to the overall flavor, and just enough bittering to keep this from coming off as syrupy. As the weather down here continues to warm up, most are already gravitating to the lighter, more refreshing beers, but for me White Oak is the perfect slow sipper for a lazy Saturday afternoon.
lady snow has a bad cold this weekend and can’t taste beer: [sniffle]
tl;dr: Wheatwines, similarly to barleywines, are all labeled for sale in the U.S. as “wheatwine-style ale.” This started when Sierra Nevada tried to label their Bigfoot as a barleywine, and the Tax and Trade Bureau felt this would cause consumers to misidentify barleywine as regular wine. “Barleywine-style ale” was the compromise, and it’s become standard for both styles.
make it snow is an alot of beer who’s really digging chile beers right now, probably due to his own ongoing upper respiratory discomfort. That Jim Abbot joke will serve as his first, last, and only written acknowledgement of baseball’s opening week. Cheers.