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Review: Michelob Wheat Sample Pack. Hop Hound, Shock Top, Dunkel Weisse, and Honey Wheat Vie for Craft Beer Recognition.

March 29, 2010

The numbers are in. The pressure is on. Beer sales overall are down, but craft beer sales are up. While craft beer still only holds a 5% market share sales by volume are up 7.2%. It’s time for the majors to take notice if they haven’t already. It seems as though AMC has seen this coming. So far they have attempted to thwart off microbreweries with various tactics. Miller Lite uses the two keywords “pilsner and hops” in an attempt to sound like more than a Pale Light Lager. Blue Moon is being marketed on TV for the first time and references the “Blue Moon Brewing Co.” Anhueser has released numerous brews under creative names and bottles.

Most significant is Michelob’s attempt to appear as a craft brewery by pumping out a wide range of beers encompassing many styles. I recently gave in and decided to purchase their Wheat Beer Sampler featuring four distinct wheat ales.

1) Shock Top Belgian White

-Witbier, 5.2% ABV, 10 IBU

-Cascade and Willamette Hops, 2-row and wheat malt

Shock top pours with large floaties a hazy yellow with a fizzy, thin, white head into my .5L Hoegaarden witbier glass. The aroma is full of citrus, orange peel, lemon, and lime. It is quite a pleasant citrus aroma with what I thought was a faint hint of hops, but I find that hard to believe at 10 IBUs. The flavor is orange, wheat, citrus, and coriander. I can see what they are going for and all the flavors are there, but they just aren’t doing it for me. The taste seems a bit off. To compare with another macro’s take on a Wit, Blue Moon is much better in my own opinion. Mouthfeel is light, smooth, and full of carbonation.

Score: 55/100

Shock Top at Beer Advocate

Shock Top at Rate Beer

2) Hop Hound Amber Wheat

-American Pale Wheat Ale, 5.3% ABV, 25 IBU

-Cascade, Willamette, and Hallertau hops, Wheat, Caramel, Carapils, and Two-row malt

Hop Hound pours a very hazy orange with a short white head that dissipates fast and leaves no lace. With a name like Hop Hound you expect this to have hops in the aroma. At 25 IBUs I’m not picking up much of any aroma, especially hops. The flavor is surprisingly bitter with an earthy,noble hop flavor. Hop Hound also has a nice caramel malt backbone to balance out the hops. There isn’t a whole lot of flavor, but there’s more than I was expecting. I was way too hard on this beer the first few times I had it. The bottle is past it’s prime, but I think this one might have a chance when drunk fresh. It leaves a dusty mouth coating for the finish and is light bodied.

Score: 60/100

Hop Hound at Beer Advocate

Hop Hound at Rate Beer

3) Honey Wheat

-American Pale Wheat Ale, 5.6% ABV, 13 IBU

-Cascade, Willamette, and Hallertau hops, Two-row and wheat malt

Pours very clear golden orange with a very tall white frothy head. It leaves zero lacing. The aroma is wheat, wheat, and more wheat with an artificial honey smell as well. The aroma is good except the honey is just a bit too artificial. Honey Wheat tastes of watered-down wheat flavor, honey, and no much else. The sweetness from the honey coats the mouth leaving a nasty artificial sweetness flavor lingering. I’m not sure if the honey is real or artificial, but either way it comes across as too cloying. A more subtle use of honey would make Michelob Honey Wheat much more enjoyable. The mouth feel is prickly and the body is quite light and watery. Honey Wheat is quite one-dimensional and I don’t recommend letting this one warm up too much.

Score: 20/100

Honey Wheat at Beer Advocate

Honey Wheat at Rate Beer

4) Dunkel Weisse

-Dunkelweizen, 5.5% ABV, 17 IBU

-Hallertau and Tettnang hops, Two-row, chocolate, caramel, and wheat malt

Up to this point Michelob hasn’t been able to brew an attractive beer. All these Michelob wheat ales have no legs and no lace. Sexy right? Let’s see if their Dunkelweizen can sway my opinion. If I was counting on any of these brews to be impressive it was this one. Dunkel Weisse pours a dark ruby with surprisingly little head. Lots of carbonation bubbles rising to the top of the glass. This brew is actually quite gorgeous. The best was I can describe it is saying it has all the colors of the sunset. Maroon, purple, red, orange, yellow are visible throughout this brew. The head is off-white, creamy, and thin. The aroma reminds me of mashed banana with some wheat malt and ginger spice. A little orange also shows through in the nose. As far as Dunkels go the aroma is average, but the color is superb. The flavor of Dunkel Weisse is malt, wheat, dark malt, banana and earthy notes. These flavors come across as weak as opposed to subtle. If I were to close my eyes and drink this I would know I were drinking a wheat beer, but not necessarily a dark wheat ale. It is highly carbonated, light-medium bodied, and has a drying finish. I was expecting more, but Dunkel Weisse is by far the best of the four wheat beers in the Michelob Craft pack.

Score: 65/100

Dunkel Weisse at Beer Advocate

Dunkel Weisse at Rate Beer

  1. Nice to hear about craft brews earning higher numbers, but I usually dislike these knockoffs and all they stand for. I see what the big brewers are going for, but it still doesn’t make sense to me: most beer drinkers either dislike macro or dislike craft. You’d think these beers would alienate both audiences.

    Also, if I’m not mistaken, I predicted that the Dunkel Weisse would come out on top!

  2. Erik permalink

    +1 to Scotts logic. Macros need to do what they’ve been doing and stick to that.

  3. I agree with both of you but the good thing is that these beers might be what bridges the gap between fizzy yellow beer drinkers and our world.

    “What’s that? You like Shock Top because it has more flavor than a Bud Light? Well let me tell you about a few beers that might interest you by a little brewery in….”

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