Friday, August 19, 2011

Beer of the Week (Vol. CXI)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the level-headed crew at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can guide you to the wine, whiskey, and beer that will help make this summer one that you’ll long remember.

Among the many new beers that appeared recently on the shelves at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits is Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat from the Tallgrass Brewing Company in Kansas. Other Tallgrass offerings were previously available at Glen Lake and three of them have already been featured here. Tallgrass is among the growing number craft brewers who have embraced the can as their beer package of choice (Surly and 21st Amendment are a couple of other notable craft beer canners). Most beers from Tallgrass come in 16oz cans (like Surly), but their Halcyon Wheat is packaged in a 12oz can. It also features a distinct connection to its home state:

We originally brewed Halcyon as our first summer seasonal, but since all the Halcyon fans (a.k.a: kiteheads) asked so nicely, we now brew this magical brew year around. Besides, who doesn't want a little taste of summer on a dark winter night?

We are proud of all our beers, but Halcyon is special. We are in “the wheat state” after all, so the pressure was on us to make a wheat beer, but we knew it had to be great. Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat is the result of that Midwestern angst, an all-American wheat with real Kansas-grown grain in the brew.

We start with raw Kansas white wheat in the mix to give it a nice edge, but what really makes it shine is the hops. We use “hop-bursting” late in the brewing process and this gives Halcyon its palate of tropical fruit flavors & aromas with a bright and refreshing taste like the best days of summer.

oh yea...Silver Medal in the wheat beer category at the US Beer Championships Woot! Woot!

By the way, while I think most of us are familiar with the word “halcyon” as commonly used, I don’t think many are aware of its origin (I certainly wasn’t):

A halcyon is a mythical bird—often identified as a kingfisher—said to breed in a floating nest at sea during the winter solstice, during which time it charms the wind and waves into calm. The term originates from the Greek myth of Alcyone. In popular use, it can also mean to harken back to an earlier time, remembered as idyllic.

As such it is a fitting name for a beer best enjoyed during those splendid days of summer when everything seems right with the world.
The design on the can also captures the carefree spirit of the season with a bright yellow diamond kit in front of swirling summer blues.

STYLE: Wheat Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 5.0%

COLOR (0-2): Golden brown and well-clouded. 2

AROMA (0-2): Wheaty and sweet with hints of honey. 2

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

TASTE (0-5): Again mostly wheat and yeast with some sweet malt and more mellow hops and citrus flavor. The creamy mouthfeel is simply luscious. Lighter bodied and not much carbonation. Very drinkable and refreshing. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Crisp, clean slightly hoppy finish. 2

OVERALL (0-6): While this wheat beer is a departure from the traditional hefeweizen style, it’s by no means a disappointment. Halcyon Wheat maintains a full and complex flavor profile while being remarkably drinkable and quite refreshing. Kansas has every reason to be proud of this product and the wheat that went into it. It’s a much better unfiltered wheat than the one offered by Boulevard Brewing (also from the Jayhawk state). Celebrate the all too fleeting days of summer by raising a Halcyon Wheat or two. And don’t be scared off because it comes in a can (looking at you Atomizer). You should always be pouring your beer into an appropriate glass anyway. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

[Fellow Frater Saint Paul enjoyed a Halcyon Wheat in my basement bar earlier this week so I expect that he may weigh in with either a affirmation or rebuttal of my views on the beer.]