Thursday, October 18, 2012

Catalytic Converted

It’s autumn and autumn is the time for fall festivals. Every so often Amy and I pack the kids into the Family Truckster and head out in search of pumpkins and corn mazes and face painting. In fact, we did just that a few weeks ago. This particular festival was also my first experience with the Shocktop beers. This is not because I’m diametrically opposed to the Shocktop or its AB connections—I’m just not a big fan of wheat beers in general. I will drink them, and if given a choice, I’d lean Belgian rather than German, but normally I opt for other styles.

What was even more surprising was that my gateway Shocktop was their seasonal pumpkin variety. As much as I am not a fan of wheat beer, I really dislike pumpkin brews. To borrow a McLeodian epithet—they are, so-much gak. That being said, I was pleasantly taken aback at how much I enjoyed this little beer. The dry softness of the wheat and citrusy notes, seemed to mellow the pumpkin spiciness. This beer worked, plain and simple.

I remember, years ago, that someone at Mahar’s had inadvertently run Brooklyner Weisse through a line that had recently been serving Lindeman’s Framboise—without first cleaning the fram-berried line. The Brooklyn Raspberry Wheat was born—albeit temporarily—to great acclaim. Supposedly Garrett Oliver, on a book signing tour in Albany, actually got to taste this concoction, and wasn’t offended. Brooklyn has never made a raspberry wheat beer, but he didn’t sue, so I guess that’s better than nothing.

Last night while hot-dogging it up for the kid’s dinner, I cracked open a Saranac White IPA, leftover by weekend guests—then BANG! Smack in the face with spice and hops. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of these and I’d forgotten what an agreeable combination the wheat-y spice of a Witbier and the pop and zing of Citra hops could be.

It occurred to me during this face smacking that wheat might just be the most versatile brewing grain. It seems to be the perfect catalyst for spice or citrus, sourness or sweetness—hell, even smoke. Wheat just seems to be able to handle everything that gets put in front of it.

In any case, I still don’t like wheat beer—most of the time.


  1. In the early years I drank quite a bit of wheats and couldn't get enough tof Celis White but now I am with you.

  2. We are of the minority, but together we're strong.