Wheat ales get beat on among those within the Craft Beer Movement™ and unfairly so. Hoppy IPAs and high-alcohol malty stouts get all the love, while wheats and wits get lumped into a pile with Blue Moon.
Some of this is history. The German Beer Purity law passed in 1516, known to really good beer drinkers by its native name Reinheitsgebot, gave the government the ability to regulate ingredients, control distribution, levy taxes and otherwise inflict its will on beer manufacturing. This law said that only barley, hops and water could be used in the brewing of beer within the confines of Bavaria. Wheat in your beer was left to the dirty Belgians It’s worth noting that the Reinheitsgebot was nullified by the European Court of Justice in 1987 on the basis of restraining trade. Of course, the law was diluted by Bavaria’s ruling family in the 1600s when it gave itself permission to brew beers with wheat. So, while hefeweizens, kolsches, and weissbiers violated the Reinheitsgebot, it was okay because the HBIC (Head Bavarian In Charge) said so.
Some of it is the Blue Moon effect. The Belgian-style wheat beer debuted in 1995 and emerged in the mid-2000s during the early years of the Craft Beer Movement™. It’s a gateway beer to craft, but has drawn fire from independent brewers for its posing as craft when in fact it is brewed by global beverage conglomerate MillerCoors.
Some of it is a matter of flavor. Wheat beers are never the hoppiest, maltiest or booziest beers on tap. They are often weaker in alcohol content, heavier in volume and, in the case of Blue Moon, best served with fruit.
But, then there is the Boulevard Brewing Company. The Kansas City, Mo.-based craft brewer now owned by Belgian’s Duvel Moortgat (which also has Ommegang, Duvel, and Chimay in its portfolio) brings an unfiltered wheat to the table. The cleverly-named Unfiltered Wheat Ale is classified as an American-style wheat ale, not a hefeweizen as most cloudy wheat beers tend to be. This beer is bready and doughy and not light by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, there are subtle flavors of citrus and floral, but make no bones about it, this is a wheat beer.
This is the beer Blue Moon and other wheat ales should aspire to be, Reinheitsgebot be damned.
Brewer: Boulevard Brewing Company
Beer: Unfiltered Wheat Ale
Style: Wheat Ale
ABV: 4.4% IBU: 14
Container: 12 oz. bottle
Price: $2.99 (purchased as a single) Point of Purchase: Syosset Beverage, Syosset, N.Y.
To The Eye: Golden and hazy. I gave it a hard pour and a thick head formed, but disappeared quickly.
To The Nose: Wheaty and malty. A little lemon, but not much.
To The Palate: Body is full. The flavor from open to close is bready, doughy wheat in all of its gluten-rich glory.
Aftertaste: Watery, faint lemon on the backend.
Boozy Factor: Right there with Boulevard’s session IPA.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 8