Who doesn’t remember waking up on Saturday mornings, parking a big yellow beanbag in front of the tube, and settling in for a round of Saturday morning cartoons? And if you’re anything like Peaks and Pints, we had one Saturday morning staple: an overflowing bowl of Shredded Wheat with milk sloshing over the sides (thanks, Mom!). Yes, we were Shreddheads. Oh, how we wish we were Lucky Charmers holding our spoons overhand-style and make slurping noises as we ate desiccated marshmallows. Nope. On July 31, 1893, Denver, Colorado salesman Henry Perky said “to hell with selling railroad cars” and patented shredded wheat, thus changing our lives. We think it’s appropriate that our beer flight today harkens back to those mornings in front of the big box TV, bringing back some memories of yore. Now that we are a few years (ahem) older, we’ve moved on to adult varieties of consumable wheat — wheat beers. Pour yourself a Craft Beer Crosscut 7.31.17: A Flight of Shredded Wheat and stream cartoons on your phone.
The name of the style, Berliner weisse — a light, sour wheat beer — is protected by German law, which states that a beer should only be called by that name if it is brewed in Berlin, just as a Kölsch must be brewed in Köln. At the height of its popularity during the late 19th century, Berliner weisse was the most favored alcoholic drink in Berlin, and nearly 50 breweries were producing it. However, it fell by the wayside, as pale lagers became the beers of choice worldwide. Currently in Berlin there are only about three makers. North Coast Brewing Co. has embraced the centuries old Berliner weisse style, debuting a new, special release brew this week. Just in time for the season, Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse is with the juice of Montmorency cherries sourced from orchards in central Michigan. It tastes like cherry pie.
Razma Attack is Wingman Brewers’ Berliner weisse recipe brewed with a copious amount of raspberries. That finished beer is then blended with the Tacoma brewery’s house mixed culture Saison to provide a more complex Brett and Pedio backbone. Make no mistake this isn’t some commercial-grade raspberry wheat ale that tastes like it was made with the leftover topping from a frozen supermarket cheesecake. This is a quality, dark red Berliner weisse that has been enhanced with tart, slightly sweet raspberry flavor with perfect carbonation.
4.6 % ABV, 21 IBU
Who cares if Ordnance Brewing’s Bloops started as an accident. It’s reminiscent of blueberry pie. Ordnance did a pretty remarkable job with this much-maligned style; creating a cloudy, juicy blueberry wheat that delivers everything you could ever want from a fruit wheat. The secret is in the berries, grown by Ordnance owner Craig Coleman on his farm. Ordnance does use some berry powder to increase the intensity of the flavor — made partly with berries Coleman sells to a fruit processor.
5.2% ABV, 22 IBU
American wheat beers range in color from straw to amber. The more they are filtered, the less cloudy they appear. Some are even clear, as such the case with Chuckanut Brewery’s Filtered American Wheat Ale. Although it’s made with a weizen yeast, this wheat beer is subdued in yeasty aroma and flavor, more so than German versions such ad the Bavarian hefeweizen. Filtered American Wheat Ale is a fresh, crisp, slightly citrus take on an American wheat. It’s a summer beer worth looking for.
10.5 ABV, 35 IBU
Since our flight centers on the healthy cereal Mom forced us to eat we might as well include the other healthy-ish food she made us eat every Wednesday night: split pea soup. Bear Republic Brewing brews an English Estate October Ale with 10 percent raw wheat and 10 percent split peas. Seriously. The California brewery also ferments it with its house Scottish ale yeast and barrel ages it for 100 days in French oak barrels. Flavor? Well … it really doesn’t fit any style. We get a little honeycomb, some golden raisin, lightly woody but lightly herbal too, a touch medicinal maybe, some butterscotch, light spice and light vanilla. It’s tasty.