Friday morning came with bittersweet feelings. The bitter was the fact that it would be a 10-hour day at work with more work on Saturday. I felt blessed that I had a decent job, now with overtime, in a terrible economy where many talented people were out of work. My heart goes out to all of you.
The sweet part was that it was beer buyin’ time. I had at least one day to get my jollies at experiencing a new taste, get a little mellow and write about it. With winter staring us forehead to forehead, directly in the eyes, I had my mind set on purchasing another winter seasonal beer from a reputable brewery.
With only one beer choice to buy and one establishment to visit, I headed out the beloved Morris Beer Store. I was greeted by name as I walked in. That’s a nice feeling. Kinda like Cheers without the bar.
At the craft beer shelf I started my scrutiny. With the Goose Island and Sam Adams beers down the hatch, I was looking for something from Great Lakes or Flying Dog or someone else… Same-old, same-old. But wait. There at the top. In the back. Hmm. Looks as if some folks have already picked up a few of these. There was an empty space in the front of the Bell’s section and only two sixpacks left in the back row. It was Bell’s Winter White Ale.
I checked out the label. Not a whole helluvalot of info. The usual gov’t warning, deposit info and an ABV number. And this short phrase:
A seasonally nuanced wheat ale that is both stylish and refreshing.
Not a lot to go on. A wheat ale, eh? Yeah, BUT it’s been “nuanced.” Stylish? Why should I care about style? I care about taste. I checked the price and hesitated. It was just a tad over 10 bucks. Cursing the Illinois State tax laws and past and present governors in and out of prison, I grabbed the sixer and trudged to the checkout.
Back home, I jammed it in the fridge and sought solace on the Internet. Before I knew it, it was time to go to work.
A long Friday and a Saturday lost was spent at the service of the Company in exchange for a monetary wage. I’ll get over it, I usually do. On paydays I get some vindication. Saturday night would have some golden refreshment waiting for me, nicely chilled with a myriad choice of glasses to drink it out of.
Hardly anything at work broke, so there was not much to fix. That was a good thing, but it made for a long, slow day. Luckily we punched out after only 6 hours and I was on I80 heading home at a reasonable hour.
It didn’t take long to get things set up computer-wise. I chose a wide mouthed pint glass from the cabinet, grabbed the first bottle of Bell’s Winter White and began.
Upon pouring, the liquid came up with a frothy foam of about 3/4 inch. The beer was somewhat cloudy, similar to a wheat beer. The bubbles were of mixed sizes and raced to the top of the glass. The aroma was mild and had a familiar hint of a wheat beer to it.
The first sip confirmed the wheatiness of this beer. Sweet at the front and dragging a slight tartness along the sides of the tongue. First impressions were that we may have a winter lawnmower (snowblower) beer here. The sips were light and refreshing with a slight sweetness. The tartness of the taste is what gave this beer its character.
The sips piled up and the tastes took up residence in my mouth and made merry with the parts therein. One characteristic of this brew that made me really smile was the fact that, with all of the wheatiness and sweetness, this beverage still tasted like an actual beer beer.
The sweetness of this beer is not at all overwhelming, just a hint at the front. The middle has the wheatiness and the flavor. As the beer went down the main tube, the tart set the final scene. When the sip was gone the beeriness was defined.
Is this a real wheat beer? The taste says that it is. The cloudiness says that it is. But the carbonation does not. The second bottle was poured straight into the glass and the level of foam was the same, even diminishing to just a little thin froth across the top. Does it all matter? The appearance and carbonation of this beer are secondary and almost unimportant. It’s the great taste of this beer that makes it so good.
I’ll agree again with the recent commenter who said something along the lines of winter seasonals being the only redeeming factor about winter. I’m amazed at what a difference a few spices and out of the ordinary ingredients can do to a beer recipe. What a wonderful time in which to live. The weather sucks, though.
This Winter White ale is one to have on hand in quantity throughout the season. Light but diverse in taste and very drinkable during football game viewing or puttering down in the basement. It would be perfect after a bout of snow shoveling or snowblowing. The wheat taste may not your bag, but having at least a couple of these beers will still do you right. It’s almost like those ginger snap or windmill cookies that you never choose to eat on your own. But once you have a taste of one, you’ll have six before you quit eating them. Bell’s Winter White Ale is like that, a great taste to be experienced this time of year. Don’t pass it up.
Taste: B+ > A nice blend of sweet and tart on the tongue.
Smoothness: A- > A toboggan run right down your yap.
Drinkability: B+ > A new one fits nicely on the back of the old one.
Bang for the buck: C > A bit pricey, but hey… It’s Christmas.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It looks like lemonade. (sip) Oh it’s mild. (sip) Yeah, I like it. (sip) It’s probably the glass, though. (nudge) (sip) It’s nice and mild. It’s beer, though. Not like some of those others. (Damn! I think she nailed it!)