Thursday, 14 June 2012

Mondial Beer Review #4: Wheat Beers and Lagers

If you know me and/or read the blog often, you'll know there aren't too many wheat beers, witbiers, hefeweizens, etc that I will rave about, nor are there many lagers.  While the wheat beers I had (just two of them) were fine, they didn't blow me away (as few of these styles do - personal preference), but there was that one legendary lager, but I am getting ahead of myself.  Wait for it!

Yes, there are numerous beer styles in each of these lists and the categories are really broad, but as I had one witbier and one hefeweizen, and just 3 lagers, amalgamation of broader categories seems useful if overly simplistic.  If this bothers you excessively, you are way more of a beer geek than I and need to chill out and realize this is just a broad way to categorize my ratings!  Hopefully they offer you something and hopefully you share your thoughts in return!

Wheats and Wits and Weizens

Personal Best of the Fest: Le Saint Bock's Pénitente (5% ABV), a 'spicy' witbier, wasn't that spicy but did offer spicy aromas of ginger and pepper alongside an orange sweetness.  It poured a cloudy light gold with a fine fizzy white head, though with moderate retention and only slight lacing.  Flavorwise, I picked up little fruit aside from the citrus, but some light spiciness though it was fairly mild.  Fairly thin in body with an average amount of carbonation that fit well with the style.  Not my favourite style, nor favourite beer in the style, but certainly drinkable and would be pretty delightful to a fan.  Grade: B+

The only other wheat-based beer I had was the UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen (4.8% ABV) from Harpoon Brewery in Boston.  Unlike your typical raspberry wheat beer, this one was more beer than sweet fruity 'near-cooler,' but had a few shortcomings despite its strengths and hype.  Despite being a nice cloudy amber, it offers little in the way of head or retention, for starters.  The nose is almost cloyingly sweet of raspberry and nothing else - as if a sparkling soda - which just makes the balanced flavour all the more odd.  That is, in taste it offers a drier tart-like raspberry flavour with a drying citrus hops presence that is somewhat unique and, if not amazing to me, much more nuanced and complex than typical of the style... but it smells worse.  Maybe I just don't get it - and I admit that is possible.  With a light-to-medium body and a similar level of carbonation, it is fairly standard here.  The taste is good if not my thing, but the nose and head are so horrific as to give this beer a hit.  Some seem to love it, so take my notes with a grain of salt.  Grade: B-


It may be more accurate if I called this category "Two pilsners and a schwarzbier," but the schwarzbier truly is in a class of its own!

Personal Best of the Fest: I was absolutely stunned and blown away by Rogue's Chatoe Rogue First Growth Dirtoir Black Lager (5.3% or 6% ABV, sources disagree), though not so blown away by its excessive name.  It pours a fine black with excellent mocha lacing, though the thickness of head and retention were tough to gauge since the poor pourer hindered me here.  Aroma is primarily of excellent coffee with traces of chocolate and bready malts.  Bitter espresso notes in the mouth are tempered by a semi-sweet dark chocolate and toasty breaded molasses hint.  Medium full bodied with fair carbonation leads to an almost spicy crispness on the tongue alongside a lingering finish that is as delicious and complex as the beer itself.  Hands down the best lager I have ever tasted.  Grade: A+

Lagunitas makes the list again as the first brewery to show up in all four reviews thus far with its Lagunitas Pils (a 6.2% ABV Czech Pilsner) that shows the standard golden appearance with a moderate white head of fair retention and lace.  Aromas are predominantly of grass and biscuits with a fairly sweet scent, though with a touch of sweaty, piney hops.  Flavour is spicy with just enough of an estery hops finish.  Crisp and refreshing - like a lager is presumed to be - with fair degree of carbonation.  Nice, just not my style.  Grade: B+

Finally, I come to Italian Brewer, Birra del Borgo's My Antonia (not to be confused with the Dogfish Head beer of the same name) (a 7.5% Imperial Pilsner) which pours a cloudy gold with a weak head of negligible retention and lace.  Aromas are predominantly of fruity-sweet and hoppy-sour citrus in balance, while the taste is very citrusy and drying - only vaguely different from an American IPA.  With a nearly medium body and average carbonation, it is as expected on the tongue, but though decent, not quite what was expected on the tastebuds.  Grade: B-

Okay, I am finally getting there on these reviews.  Two posts to go, Sours and Oddities, and final wrap-up!  I will be away for a few days and may not get to these right away, but bare with me and share some of your thoughts on these beers or others!

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