Of the four beers that Widmer sent me last month, I already drank (and just recently reviewed) the O’Ryely IPA and had been eyeing the Lemongrass Wheat Ale, Widmer’s latest addition (#5) to their Brothers Reserve series of limited releases. I was most intrigued with this one, because of Widmer’s description:
Lemongrass Wheat Ale is brewed with a unique mixture of malts and Muscat grape juice. This brew has a traditional malt backbone, hints of late harvest grape sweetness, and a distinct lemongrass flavor and aroma. Champagne and ale yeasts were used in tandem to produce a sparkling, crisp, yet fruity profile. Alchemy and Crystal hops balance and compliment the citrus, earthy, and spicy notes of the beer.
A 9% wheat wine brewed with lemongrass and Muscat grape juice; what’s not to like? In fact it has a very strong white wine character and fruitiness to it, which I know will be a turn-off to some.
Appearance: Kind of a delicate orange color, making me think of honey and mead; fizzy off-white head didn’t last long.
Smell: Crisp and tangy with a tart white wine character—first thing I thought was Riesling or Cabernet Sauvignon. It also has that damp tanginess that high-alcohol wheat ales seem to exhibit.
Taste: Sweet and mead-like, but also strikes me as very prototypical for a wheat wine—is it the honey sweetness? The alcohol kick which also contributes sweetness? I keep coming back to honey, mead, braggot. At the same time it’s light and easy to drink. I think lemongrass is most prominent in the aroma; for flavor it just accentuates the wheatiness and grape juice.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied but it feels lighter; nice sweetness that edges up to cloying but not sticky in the aftertaste.
Overall: I really like it, it’s got a good, drinkable thing happening.