When budding drinkers start to branch out to microbrews, they tend to move first to craft-brewed wheat beers. It’s easy to go from something like Bud Light to Boulevard Wheat. It’s a natural move-you won’t be assaulted by 120L crystal malt or a hop bomb. In other words, light wheat beer is generally the baby step of the transition to “better” beer. While both are generally light beers, drinking something from a bottle is a lot classier than your double-handled headache of horse-piss from the smoky bar down the street.
Tallgrass Wheat is the next step. Instead of a simple “weizenbier” (literally, “wheat beer”) Tallgrass Wheat is a representative of the “witbier” style from Belgium. Belgian style beers are typically on the weirder end of the beer spectrum. To the uninitiated, Tallgrass Wheat definitely fits the bill. In contrast to a straight up wheat beer, a witbier is typically spiced with orange peel and coriander to create a fruitier, livelier beverage. It may sound strange, but witbier, such as Tallgrass Wheat, is pretty tasty, especially on a hot summer day.
I picked up a bottle of Tallgrass Wheat from the mix and match shelf at Jac’s Liquor World (5200 SW 21st St.) and gave it a go this past Friday:
Appearance: I love the Tallgrass label design. While it doesn’t impact anything that matters, the label is downright pretty. As I finished the pour, the disappointment began. The beer didn’t form much of a head, and what little there was dissipated quickly. Wheat beers are famous for their foaminess, which stems from the wheat protein (which is also what makes it so cloudy).
Smell: Nice and yeasty, you can definitely smell the citrus and coriander. I love the smell of wheat beer, and Tallgrass is no exception. The addition of the spices is a great compliment to the bready smell of the yeast.
Taste: Compared to other beers in this style, Tallgrass Wheat is fairly lightly-spiced. While you can certainly taste the orange peel and coriander, it doesn’t rise far above the natural sweetness of the wheat. Combined with the light carbonation this beer tastes a little flat and dull. The sweetness of the wheat was the third strike in my book. I’d need more hops or more carbonation to make it a solid recommendation.
Drinkability: This beer isn’t too spectacular, and it certainly won’t wreak havoc on your taste buds. On the other hand, there isn’t much to draw me to it. The beer isn’t carbonated enough, which will really impact how much you want to drink.
Overall: I recommend that everyone try a witbier once. If you decide to give this style a try, look elsewhere. Boulevard brews a great example of this style, called ZÃ¶n. If local isn’t quite your thing, give New Belgium’s Mothership Wit a try.
ABOUT THE BREWERY
Tallgrass Brewery is a locally owned microbrewery located in Manhattan. They offer samplings at several restaurants and bars throughout the year.
It was founded by Jeff and Tricia Gill in 2007. It offers pale ale, Indian pale ale and wheat varieties of beer.The brewing water comes from wells deep below the Flint Hills.