The Beer: 20th Anniversary Double Wheat Ale
The Brewery: Grand Teton Brewing Co. Inc. of Victor, Idaho
Fruit Beer (base beer is a wheat wine)
Brewer's Description: To commemorate that twenty-year history, the brewers of Grand Teton have chosen four of our favorite beers--three current, one historical--to update and enhance. XX Mountainberry Double Wheat Ale is the second release in our 2008 XX series. Grand Teton's original fruit beer, Huckleberry Wheat, was brewed for about five years beginning more than a decade ago. It was light and sparkly, with just a hint of sweet-tart mountain huckleberry. This year's celebratory version is bigger in every way--more than double the original's malt, fermented to 7.6% alcohol by volume, then flavored with more than a pound per gallon of fresh Pacific Northwest huckleberries, blueberries and marionberries. Bold and flavorful, XX Mountainberry Double Wheat makes a wonderful aperitif, or try it with a balsamic vinaigrette salad, glazed ham, duck a l'orange or fruity dessert.
Color: Poured into an Allagash Belgian-style glass, deeply copper with a marshmallowy white head that rapidly dissipates. Bottle of the large (1 quart, 1.8 fl oz), flip-top variety (perfect for re-use in homebrewing). The top has been dipped in purple wax, which is common for beers capable of aging.
Aroma: funky wheat and jammy huckleberry notes, perhaps a touch of ethanol
Taste/mouthfeel: high carbonation stings the tongue up-front, bubbles give way to a well-attenuated, thin body with somewhat hot alcohol notes. Berries do not show up on the palate with the intensity they do on the nose. Beer has a vinous, wine-look quality with faint, generic, fruity notes.
Finish: very faintly sweet finish with heady, warming alcohol notes. For only 7.6% (this may be high for some, but I like stronger ales) you can sure feel it going down.
Notes: Purchased at Huckleberry's Fresh Market in Spokane, WA. I did not know what to expect of this strong wheat ale. I will say that it grew on me a bit with every sip. It is initially quite jarring, but once your taste buds acclimate to the flavors it becomes a bit more subtle and complex. It is certainly a unique beer with a distinct taste. The brewing of strong or "imperial" wheat ales (often called "wheat wines", patterned after the strong barley-based beers "barley wines") is a fairly new trend in the microbrew community. As such, I do not have very much experience with the style. This one happens to be augmented with various wild berries of the Inland North West.