Friday, June 11, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. LIX)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the warm folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you keep on the sunny side of life.

The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin--along with a few others like the August Schell's in New Ulm, Minnesota--occupies a middle ground between craft brewers and the macro brewing giants. They're too big to truly be considered craft brewers, but they also make an effort to produce a variety of more specialized beers that few of the big boys can match. In the case of Leinenkugel, they are actually owned by mega-global-conglomerate SAB Miller. However, they've managed to maintain a sense of independence and small town brewery feel that you can experience for yourself with a tour of the Leinenkugel facility (which I've taken three or four times over the years).

Most of the Leinenkugel's offerings (the original as well as the more recent craft efforts) are pretty pedestrian. Their 1888 Bock, Fireside Nut Brown, and Summer Shandy are good beers, but there are more misses than hits in the lineup. Their most popular beers, such as Red Lager and Honey Weiss, are not that much better than your typical macros which has no doubt helped given Leinie's a bad rep among the more discerning beer drinking. Which is unfortunate, because there is some wheat to be found among the chafe. Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat to be precise.

Sky blue framed label has Leinenkugel's logo and a bundle of wheat in front of a scene featuring a gorgeous sunset over a Northwoods lake. Hard to say summer better than that.

Beer Style: Witbier

Alcohol by Volume: 4.5%

COLOR (0-2): Amber gold and cloudy. 2

AROMA (0-2): Strong citrus (mostly orange) and berry. 2

HEAD (0-2): Bright white with good volume and lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Wheat and fruit flavors are both strong and nicely balanced with a little coriander too. Light-bodied, refreshing, and very drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Crisp with a smooth fruity finish. 1

OVERALL (0-6): Like many summer beers, Leinie's Sunset Wheat is not for everyone. If you don't like even the hint of fruit flavors in your beer, you won't like this offering. But the fruit is not as overpowering here as it is in some beers. Leinie's has come up with a good combination of citrus and wheat. Even though it's offered year round, Sunset Wheat really is a summer beer. Leinenkugel's bills it as "like your very own sunset in a bottle" and it comes close to living up to the hype. Leave the Honey Weiss to the pretenders and make Sunset Wheat your Leinie's summer beer of choice. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14