At Music City Brew Off I judged the Wheat/Rye category. A brewer contacted me back, claiming his entry was listed as a perfect clone of “Urban Wheat 312,” all of which, of course, did not end up in the description of the beer. To be honest I don’t remember being told whether it was wheat or rye, though my fellow judge believes he was told, so when I judged the beer, being perfectly clear and no wheat protein sense I thought it was rye. But there was no sense of rye either, which I commented on.
What I sensed was a nice APA that fit neither rye or wheat.
It bugged me a tad at first, and I answered the brewer’s questions as best I could. After solid judging for 2 weeks: every other day then 2 days in a row, I was surprised I remembered as much as I did. So, after we discussed the entry between me, the organizer, the other judge and the brewer, we settled the issue. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary, Re: Urban Wheat 312 by Goose Island”
Pours orange with with bright clarity and remnants of golden sunshine hues to make the color sharp. I did not pour a fat head with this one but I was taking a photo and that could change when I do a pour that doesn’t necessitate me doing it slowly and carefully while trying to hold a camera. Off white head that fell to a thin ring and film on top.
Nose is bold and fruity with orange and with an herbal that seems vegetal and crisp to me. Grass and a light spice faintly in the shadows. As the beer comes up to temp there is a twiggy scent that’s a bit piney. The malt is faint on the nose except for a light, light caramel.
I was not expecting the wild bonanza of fruits in this beer! Taste is pine needles, succulent fresh orange, a bit of bitter pith from grapefruit. An overall citrus character that has something sweeter and more tropical in the background but it remains elusive. A taste like hemp seeds. This beer is perfectly balanced. The malt is a light and dry biscuit that never lets the caramel run away with itself. The beer itself is dry and the mouthfeel is the lighter side of medium. In the middle of the drink is a vegetal quality that really makes this beer crisp and refreshing. The finish is perfectly dry. The citric tartness and that woody pine needle take you to the swallow where there is a decent bite from bubbles and a bit of stickiness to coat the throat. The bitterness seems tame at first because of the sweetness of the mosaic hops and while it does become more prominent as you drink, it does not linger too long. Aftertaste is dry pine needles, citric tartness with some bright orange peel and a surprising caramel that has come forward albeit softly to a sassy and brisk flourish.
I loved this and think this is one of the best pale ales I have had.
Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”
Maria Devan lives in Ithaca, NY and is frequent reviewer of beer and a beer lover deluxe.