Beerbecue doesn’t like to harshen the mellow by getting all uptight about beer style guidelines, but I don’t know what in the name of Conway Twitty this beer is. And the label is about as useless as hen crap on a pump handle. It claims to represent the 312 (Chicago), but it’s made in the 315 (Anheuser-Busch plant in Baldwinsville, NY). And it says it’s an Urban Wheat Ale (because apparently wheat ales are now classified by population density), but I don’t know what the hell that means.
On closer inspection of Goose Island’s website, I learn that the wheat they speak of is torrefied wheat. My only previous encounter with torrefied wheat has been with the sugary, puffed-wheat cereal peddled by a frog named Dig’em, who is so whacked out on high fructose corn syrup that he literally flies about giving impressionable youths high-fives for cajoling their parents into buying Honey Smacks. Although, he still beats Cliffy the Clown:
But apparently torrefied wheat is a common adjunct used for improved head retention and body. And because it’s heated, puffed, and pregelatinized, that means it’s cocked, locked, and ready to rock the mash. Also, it can apparently be used in lieu of raw wheat.
So, since 312 doesn’t use any wheat malt, it’s probably not a Hefe or an American Wheat. Maybe since torrefied wheat can be used in lieu of raw wheat, it’s a boring version of a Belgian-style Wit or Wheat (sans any spicyness or yummies like orange peel, coriander, or interesting yeast). Or maybe it’s not a “wheat beer” at all, and it’s actually a freaking English-Style Summer Ale, as it was judged at the GABF. Aaargh! The lies! I never would have bought a 6 pack of English-Style Summer Ale! Although maybe you can’t blame them…you try marketing an English-Style Summer Ale year-round in Chicago.
It pours a hazy straw color, with a head that shows promise (after all, it is a “wheat beer”). Alas, the head dwindles quickly. More lies! The smell is very faint: Slight wheatiness, a hint of lemon, and a bit of grassiness. The taste is quite faint as well: Scant citrus and maybe an ever-so-slight spiciness. The finish is clean with a barely-there bitterness. The carbonation is adequate, but 312 isn’t creamy as you would often expect when you plunk down coin for a “wheat beer”. And when it warms and the carbonation wanes, more sweetness comes out along with some pineapple flavor.
Overall, it’s an unobtrusive, but unremarkable, beer. I resent it for its lies and for exposing my public school education’s failure to prepare me with enough adjectives to express “light” with adequate elegant variance.
The Haybag: I am unimpressed by this beer. You’re fired for picking it out.