Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tasting Notes: Agave Wheat

Brewer: Breckenridge Brewery
Style: American Wheat\Agave Wheat ?
ABV: 4.2%
Date Poured: June 2008

Once I made the move to Georgia several years ago, I learned a new appreciation for wheat beers. It's hot down here and a good witbier or hefeweizen really hits the spot. I particularly dove into exploring German hefes and then, as I am prone to do, started looking for some good examples made by American brewers.

I was sorely disappointed. Beers that claimed to be "hefeweizens" turned out to have none of the characteristics of their German equivalents. Where was that banana/lemon/bubblegum flavor imparted by that typical hefe yeast? Nowhere, it seemed. American witbiers were better but most seemed flabby and lacking, even compared to industrial examples like Hoegaarden. And the ales labeled simply "wheat beer" were crisp but soulless. Little flavor and even less enjoyment.

I believe that American brewers can make great examples of any style in the world but with wheat beers they come up short. I can only think of two stellar examples: Allagash White from Allagash Brewery in Portland, Maine and Gumballhead from Three Floyds Brewery in Munster, Indiana.

But that doesn't stop me from continuing to look. Colorado's Breckenridge Brewery has released a wheat beer flavored with the nectar of the Salmiana Agave. And since I have never heard of a brewery doing such a thing, I had to give it a shot.

It pours a very hazy pale gold (it is unfiltered) with a 1/4 inch snow white head. A pretty typical appearance for an American wheat beer. Sweet wheat malt aromas mixed with aromatics from some sort of lemony fruit. Maybe this is from the agave?

In the mouth, a lightly sweet wheat malt imparts a light crispness. It starts out quite dry in the mouth too. There's a lime-like flavor in there which I am assuming is the agave nectar. It still finishes clean and crisp but with just a hint of stickiness in the aftertaste.

The addition of agave is interesting to be sure and does save this beer from still being just another limp American wheat beer. But it doesn't make it great. Extra credit for trying something different. I wouldn't have thought of agave in a million years. I will say that this is a cut above your average American wheat beer.

Breckenridge Brewery

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