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Belt’s Beer Garden: Wheat ‘em and Reap

A pair of fruity wheat beers from Ommegang and MobCraft

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As summer starts to come to a close I wanted to get as many wheat beers in as I could. And, with my love of fruity brews, this week I have a pair of wheat beers made with some nice fruit additions.

First up, one of the cooler brewery ideas I’ve ever heard about - MobCraft and their Hop Goes the Grapefruit.

MobCraft began back in 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as the first 100% crowd-sourced brewery…and I really like that concept. What does that mean?

Well they make small batch “custom craft beers” that are all from user submitted recipes! People submit the beer style and ingredients they want made and then everyone casts their vote on the best sounding beer by placing a pre-order on it. From there, they’ll brew the beer with the most pre-orders. Then, once the beer is made, you can then either pick it up at the brewery or have them ship four bombers out to you…how cool is that!?!

They do also have five “flagship” beers that they continue to produce though…and Hop Goes the Grapefruit is one of those.

Hop Goes the Grapefruit is a “hop forward” wheat ale brewed with Cascade and Centennial hops, sea salt, and lots of grapefruit (both juice and zest). It can be found in packs of four 16-ounce cans for $10, with each can having a modest 4.5% ABV and 30 IBU to it.

HGtG poured a bright golden straw color with about two fingers of pure white head billowing upwards. The foam doesn’t stick around too long though and, soon enough, all that remained was a light dusting of bubbles across the top.

On the nose there were the typical wheat components to it – some coriander and a dash of clove – but, in addition to those, there was a tart grapefruit scent and you could even pick up on that sea salt they added.

My first taste began with a just moderate amount of carbonation and, from those bubbles, the flavors emerged. First it was the semi-sour grapefruit flavors that imparted a gose-like quality to the beer. The tartness was pretty minimal, however, and, almost immediately, it was down-played by a rush of coriander and sea salt.

As the sip was coming to an end, I was surprised at what happened next. The hops imparted a strong bitter aftertaste that lingered well after the beer was gone. At just 30 IBU I was not at all expecting a bitter bite to this beer…and, interestingly enough, what little tart grapefruit flavor was left seemed to amplify it some.

HGtG seemed almost more like an experimental IPA than a wheat beer, as the hops really stole the show. Some of the flavors were really nice but, for the most part, this beer just didn’t hit the mark.

I think MobCraft has a really cool concept and I look forward to trying more of their beers…especially just to see what cool brews people can think up for them to make. But, as for this one, it was alright…semi-tart, unexpectedly hoppy, and surprisingly bitter on the end.

Next up, a wit bier from New York: Ommegang’s Fruition.

Brewery Ommegang is located in Cooperstown, New York and has been brewing on a farmstead since 1997. It was the first farmstead brewery built in the US in over 100 years, which is super neat. Right now you can find Ommegang in 45 of the 50 states (come on Mississippi, both Dakotas, Wyoming, and Utah!)

Fruition is one of Ommegang’s newest brews, having come out (for year-round distribution) just over two months ago. This wit bier was made using their year-round Witte as a base and bumping it up a notch by fermenting it with passion fruit, mango, and kiwi juices and then dry-hopping it with Cascade and Citra hops!

Clocking in at 5.3% ABV and 20 IBU it’s pretty modest in those categories but it is priced a little bit on the higher side at $11.99 for the six-pack.

When poured, it was a cloudy straw color with just under two fingers of fluffy white head topping it all. There was a massive amount of sediment floating around in the glass making it look almost as pulpy as orange juice.

Fruition has a slightly typical wit aroma – banana and clove with some light earthy spice – but then there’s more. There’s a semi-tart funky aroma that makes me wonder if there will be some sour notes to it. And lastly, of course, there’s the sticky-sweet fruit juices that come out too; with mango leading the way. It was an intriguing wit to say the least.

My initial taste started with a moderate rush of carbonation that lasts through the sip and even on after it’s all said and done. However, after a moment or two the flavors began to rise out of the carbonation.

First it was clove and spice, the Witte showing up unabashed. And for a moment I thought the fruit would just become lost in the bold Witte flavors but then, as the carbonation fizzled away, the mango and passion fruit slowly emerged. It wasn’t a huge push of juicy flavors but instead a subtle build up that released a tropical paradox.

The fruit first imparted that sugary-sweetness on my tongue while at the same time having a tart, funky, almost gose-like sourness to it. It wasn’t too sour where you’d pucker nor was it too sweet to where you’re smacking your lips. Instead it was a nice blend of the two opposite flavors that worked quite well with their regular wit flavor.

On the backend the mango juice does linger on nicely but, between that and the carbonation, Fruition does leave your tongue a little dry.

Overall though, this was a really good wit. The fruit juices add some nice complex flavors to their standard wit bier and will be a great addition for the last few weeks of summer we’re going to encounter.

If you like wits and you like tropical fruits…this is your beer.