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Belt’s Beer Garden: WhEAT your Fruits

4 Hands’ Guava King & Pollyanna’s Summerly; two wheat ales with fruit added

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Well summer is almost here so that means it’s time for lighter beers with lots of fruit added to them. So this week I have a few wheat beers for you; one with guava and one with raspberries. Enjoy!

First off, from Missouri, 4 Hands.

4 Hands began back in 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri and, since their last appearance on BBG, they’ve added a new year round brew – bringing their total to five beers available at all times. More than 1/7th of their brewery is dedicating to barrel aging beers, so that’s pretty sweet. You can find them in Missouri, Illinois, and Pennsylvania right now.

Even though they only have five year-round brews, they still offer a plethora of seasonal and one-off beers, like the one I have for you today – Guava King.

Guava King is a newly released wheat beer brewed with guava juice and is only available from until June...so stock up now. A four-pack of 16-ounce cans costs a tad bit above average, at $10.99. Each pint has a modest 4.5% ABV.

It poured a murky golden straw color with just a touch of bright white head. No more than a finger of foam ever billowed upwards and, quickly, only a small ring around the edge of the glass was left.

The beer had sharp tart aroma to it with those tropical fruit notes peaking out from underneath. It had more of a gose-like aroma than wheat beer…but the guava added a nice sweet touch to the otherwise sour scent.

My first taste started with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel with very little carbonation. And, even though the beer smelled sour, it had a much more mild taste to it. There wasn’t that tart bite I was expecting. Instead it reminded me of most other wheat beers. Even the guava juice was muted in the flavor.

There was the typical coriander and light spice that all wheat beers have with, sadly, just a dash of guava to separate itself from all the other witbiers. I was really hoping it would taste like it smelled…instead it was just sort of plain and even a little more watery than most wits.

As the beer warmed up some, the wateriness did fade some and allow more of the carbonation to come out but, sadly, the flavors remained as muddled as before and just had the overall quality of a light beer.

Guava King had some hints of big flavors but none of them showed up in the taste…only in the smell. It’s not that it was a bad beer, just disappointing. I was hoping for more guava, more tartness, and…just more in general.

If you enjoy wheats, give it shot. But, like I just said, for what it’s called and how it smelled, Guava King was kind of a disappointment for me…

Next up, i’m closer to home with Pollyanna and their Summerly.

Pollyanna opened in September of 2014 in Lemont, Illinois, a southwest suburb of Chicago. Right now their brewhouse is capable of producing 6,000 barrels (or a mere 1.5 million pints) a year.

They don’t have a huge distribution yet (only northern Illinois) and offer just two of their year-round beers in cans and a few other offerings in bottles/cans as well.

Today I found their summer seasonal, perfectly named Summerly.

Summerly, like the beer above, is a wheat beer brewed with fruit…but this time, instead of guava, it’s raspberries that have been added. A six-pack of bottles will run you the standard $9.99, with each bottle containing a 4.8% ABV and just 13 IBU.

It poured a bright reddish-pink color with just under two fingers of pinkish off-white head blossoming up. The foam sticks around for a few minutes before finally fading down into a dusting across the top and leaving some cloudy formations sporadically along its way.

Boy can you tell there are heaps and heaps of fruit in the beer. From the color to the smell it screams raspberries (in a good way). The aroma is lead by the sweet raspberries with some pale wheat and malt behind it but it’s 100% fruit forward…and really does smell like summer (hence the name I guess).

My first taste begins with creamy mouthfeel and some mild carbonation. Then, almost immediately, the flavors begin to emerge. It starts with the raspberry sweetness before a light maltiness and some light wheat flavors begin to seep into the fruity flavors, bringing it back down a little.

Towards the midway point of the taste there is a light tartness from the raspberries that doesn’t last long nor is it enough to make you pucker…just enough to let you know this isn’t juice from concentrate they used but the real deal!

On the backend of the sip the fruit and malt begin to blend together into a slightly dry but mostly clean and crisp finish with a hint of raspberries lingering on between each sip.

As the beer is excavated from my glass the little bit of foam that remained really laced the sides well. Huge bubble formations took over the edges of my glass, leaving very little clear space.

Pollyanna was right when they said this was the perfect beer for summer. It’s light, sessionable, slightly tart, and very tasty. The raspberries don’t get lost in this beer…instead they are quite noticeable but don’t overpowering the rest of the beer.

It’s a very well done wheat beer.

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