Blue Collar Brew Review – Great Lakes Sharpshooter Session Wheat IPA

Great-Lakes-Brewery-LogoI had thought about doing another session beer and at first, I thought that the readers may be growing tired of them. While perusing the shelves at the Cardinal store in Joliet, I had remembered how hot it always was in August. I figured what the hell. By September we’ll be flooded with pumpkin beers and cinnamon beers and spice beers all the way to Christmas.

GL sixI had spotted a sixpack of Great Lakes Sharpshooter. A session wheat IPA. Wheat and hops go together? Who knew. It was worth a shot (pun intended.) I could certainly do another session beer and write about it. It’s one of my favorite times of the week.

latestI looked at the label and studied the artist’s rendition of a woman in old western attire aiming a rifle. I wondered if this was supposed to be Annie Oakley. A quick image search brought up the exact b&w picture of Annie Oakley. Pretty close, I guess. Artistic license.

And wouldn’t ya know it, ol’ Annie was born in Ohio. Great Lakes names all their beers after events or people from Ohio and Cleveland.

TV Annie Oakleyportrait-of-annieI knew Annie Oakley existed in history but I grew up watching a blonde babe shooting with six-guns on TV in the early ‘60s. Those were around the days of Sky King, The Whirlybirds, The Cisco Kid and the Lone Ranger among others.

But I digress. I tried to imagine what a wheat IPA could taste like and wondered if this was merely a marketing lure or the real thing where the brewer pushes the boundaries of the style guidelines.

Let’s get started.

GL foamThe beer poured a nice golden yellow that looked a bit cloudy in the glass. The head was a nice white and rose up two inches. Carbonation was quite vigorous. The aroma was very slight but still reminiscent of a traditional wheat beer.

The first sip was… nice. It tasted a bit like a wheat beer up front and had a slight bit of hop bitterness at the swallow. Something was odd about this beer. At first I thought that the sweet wheat flavors up front should be more pronounced and the hops less pronounced. But if that were the case, all we’d have would be a plain wheat beer. Then it hit me. The beer was supposed to taste exactly like this.

But the more I sipped this beer, the more I liked it. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a session beer and the recipe was designed around this factor. Just like the slight watermelon flavors from the 21st Amendment beer, the hops took over. It was as if the brewer substituted extra hops in place of the watermelon.

The hops were new to me. Jarrylo hops are a new hybrid or variant and I had to Google them for more info. The pronunciation is Yar-i-lo. Also known as ADHA 881, they were named after the Slavic god of fertility and springtime. Another hop high in alpha acids.

The naming convention of this beer may be misleading once you taste it. The label on the bottle claims it’s a session wheat IPA. I’d be more inclined to call it a session wheat pale ale. The hop taste didn’t seem to me to push the beer to the level of an IPA. Artistic license I guess.

Sipping the beer became a real pleasure halfway through the first glassful. Two distinct flavors played off each other quite well, one being no stronger than the other. Sharpshooter would be a worthy entry in any beer drinker’s little black book under session beers right alongside Oskar Blues’ Pinner. Now that would make for a tasty comparison session.

Sharpshooter is a seasonal beer showing up on shelves in June.

GL glass

With the dog days of August coming, it would be a great idea to have at least a couple of sixers of Sharpshooter in the cooler or beer fridge. I’ll bet you’d be surprised at how quickly they’re consumed.

Great-Lakes-Sharpshooter-Session-Wheat-IPA-label-BeerPulse-575x436The SixPackTech summary for Great Lakes Sharpshooter Session Wheat IPA:

Style: Session IPA (No such style as Wheat IPA.)
Taste: Strange at first but quite likable later on.
Smoothness: Slides down nice and easy.
Drinkability: Keep ‘em coming.
Bang for the buck: Decent for this style.
Amount paid: $9.99 for six 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Why, I think so.
ABV: 4.8%
Brewer’s website
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Cloudy yellow. (sniff) A little lemony. (sip) It’s a little bitter. (sip) Citrus bitter. (sip) The white part of the peel. Other than that, it would be pretty good. (She blew up the balloon and then popped it.)

RateBeer rates.

Annie Oakley shoots [4:00]

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