Wheat is the new black

If I had to choose between enlightenment, success, fulfillment or a tall glass of beer, I’d probably choose the beer thinking it a shorter path to the first three items.

To say that beer plays a large part in my life and my enjoyment of same is an understatement. I’m an avid enthusiast, regular drinker and sometimes brewer of the stuff, so it’s almost always on my mind or in my hands.

This state of being would explain why I’ve been paying such close attention to the recent spate of television ads touting Anheuser-Busch’s latest malt beverage (I hasten to encourage them by calling it “beer”) Bud Light Golden Wheat. Maybe you’ve seen the ads too. If not, soak up the sudsy subtlety of sex between a shock of wheat and an anthropomorphised Bud Light bottle.

I’m not really sure what to think about Bud Light Golden Wheat, especially considering AB also markets Shock Top Golden Wheat (aggressively on tap, without indication that it’s an AB beer, but some kind of faux craft beer), Michelob Bavarian Style Wheat, Michelob Honey Wheat & Hop Hound Amber Wheat (another faux craft beer).

I understand that AB is threatened by the craft beer movement and is eager to bring Bud/Bud Light drinkers some tastier options and wheat beer is a pretty good on-ramp to some fairly tasty destinations. Good for Spring and Summer drinking; refreshing but with some spicy and flavorful varieties; smooth like other lagers and not too bitter (so as not to offend those who fear hard water and floral hops). It makes good business sense for them, if not the best beer for drinkers.

To fight back against the mainstreaming of wheat beers by watered-down brews/breweries (pun intended) I’ve been drinking some very traditional brews recently and I’m happy (and blog bound) to share the results.

The first (and best) beer on the list is Schneider-Weisse Hefe Weizen, a fantastic, dark wheat beer that has all the thirst-quenching power and spicy accents I love about wheat beers (German AND Belgian). You could do far worse (see AB beers above) than Schneider-Weisse, the originator of this style and the kind of folks who have sections on their site called “How to take good care of the beer” and a Wheat beer lexicon. Heady stuff (Pun AND double entendre intended. I’m on a ROLL today!).

Before drinking their Hefe Weizen, I don’t think I’d actually drunk one of their beers before and if that beer is any indication, I’m very sorry I haven’t. It looked beautiful in the glass and was even better to drink. You’ll just have to believe me when I say I got the perfect pour on the first try. ;-)

[Bonus links for those that enjoy the more science-oriented pleasures of beer-drinking, some videos about pouring wheat beers: Wheat Beer Pouring Ritual, How to Pour a Wheat Beer, Joe Sixpack Beer Minute – Pouring Hefe and the aptly titled “crazy german guy shows how do they pour a wheat beer“. ]

Back to the beers at hand. Last weekend saw us drink another German Hefe, Ayinger Bräu-Weisse. After years of hounding my father-in-law with crazy microbrews, hoppy excursions and everything in between, I think I’ve found his beer tooth and it involves the bananas, cloves & coriander one expects in wheat beers. He even seemed to like the Schneider-Weisse more than the Ayinger, which is surprising since the former is much more flavorful and assertive (though equally smooth) than the latter.

I’d gladly purchase & imbibe either Schneider or Ayinger beers again and, actually, Ayinger’s Marzen is a personal favorite of both Jenn & Myself. I stock up on it every September for football season.

On tap (actually in bottles, but I’m doing the whole double-meaning thing again) for this weekend is an assortment of other wheat beer. Notable additions include:

I also have some Red Brick Blonde, Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout and a bottle of Terrapin Side Project Volume 10: Capt’n Krunkles in the beer fridge, but I doubt we’ll get to those (unless the storms really roll in on Saturday).

Overall, I’m happy for the opportunity that Spring affords me to drink these great wheat beers. While they’re not my absolute favorite styles, I do enjoy the seasonality and taste of Hefeweizen and Wit alike.

My Dad & brother (and now my Father-in-Law) will gladly drink them with me, which isn’t true of all the beers I bring home (see Founder’s KBS above). And I suppose since I’m being generous that I hope Bud Light Golden Wheat opens up the beer horizons of those that try it. Any step away from Bud Light and towards anything else is encouraged from where I sit, drink in hand.

In between all this beer drinking (and pontificating) we’ve got Raelyn’s 7th birthday party (Roller skating!) and a trip to Zoo Atlanta planned. Wish me luck. Pictures to follow.

Have a great weekend!

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