Wheat Beer Showdown

With the masses of craft beers now widely available--many coming out of our southerly neighbors in San Diego County--American beer doesn't have quite the same stigma as it once did. There is certainly still the watery, cheap swill to uphold that stereotype, but with the successes of brews that are more concerned with honoring the craft and skill that has made brewing a major part of culture since way, way back when, larger breweries have begun to make attempts at breaking into various niche markets. Hence various beer-and-citrus brews--saving you from the laborious work of quartering a lime and stuffing it down the neck of a Corona--and various spins on clamato-enhanced beers for chelada lovers. Add to this list Bud Light's Golden Wheat, a coriander and citrus-spiked "light" beer--both in terms of color and body, as any wheat beer would be, and calories, like Bud Light's other beers. The Stick a Fork in It crowd is largely wary of such light beers, but were intrigued enough by this corporate pick-up of a craft beer flavor profile to feel the need to test it out for this week's Deuling Dishes, matching it up with New Belgium Brewing's Mothership Wit.

Golden Wheat
Golden Wheat
Willy Blackmore

Now ubiquitous enough to not even be featured in the craft beer isle at BevMo, New Belgium beers, especially Fat Tire, used to have a sizable cult following, its fans having to work and scheme to find a pint outside of its home state of Colorado. In Iowa, were I grew up, it was a status symbol of sorts, our one moment of beer patriotism among often imported favorites. It even turned into the booze-equivalent of a band headlining a party after someone drove twenty-six hours, roundtrip, across the flat expanses of Nebraska and just past the stateline of Colorado to purchase a keg for a high school graduation party. Since expanding its range drastically four or so years ago, the brewery has jumped up to be one of the largest craft breweries in the country, its six-packs found alongside the Buds, Coors and other gas station regulars. The beer is still good though, and Mothership Wit is no exception. Coriander and citrus are an inspired pairing to the light, slightly caramelized flavors of wheat beer--hence their inclusion in many a brew. Coriander has its own citrus-like flavors, giving more depth to the notes imparted by the actual zest.

Golden Wheat shows of its added flavors just as well as the Mothership Wit, but behind that first layer of taste, when you get to the actual beer, things begin to feel eerily familiar--yes, that's the watery taste you've come to expect from so-called light beers. It's a bit different here, given the wheat-heavy style, but without having to lapse into beerspeak--hoppy, yeasty, etc.--it can simply be said that it doesn't taste all that beery. If you chill a Golden Wheat long enough, any thinness to the beer's taste is bound to be relatively difficult to detect--so tip them back at a good clip.  

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