A lot of breweries recently have been going out of the box to create new tweaked versions of styles with ingredients not commonly used in certain styles, a practice I wholly endorse.
Innis & Gunn White Oak Wheat Beer
Our first example is this new release from Innis & Gunn, an Edinburgh, Scotland-based brewery known for aging its beer in oak barrels. Its White Oak Wheat Beer, a fall seasonal release, is indeed aged in oak, but it’s American white oak - the beer sat in one of the company’s Oakerator wood-aging devices before maturing for about 63 days before its release. Created by I & G founder Dougal Sharp and I & G quality and sensory manager Rachel Sutherland, the out-of-the-box aspect is the use of dried peel from 3,000 bergamot oranges and the fact that this is an unfiltered German krystallweizen wheat beer style brewed with ale and lager malts and a large amount of malted wheat. While the German style is not one typically used by Innis & Gunn, the brewery’s house yeast was used, so there are no clove and spicy notes like you’d find in a Bavarian version. In addition, to emphasize and complement the beer’s citrus notes, the I & G brewers added a dose of blood orange juice to the beer during its maturation stage, as an alternative to the lemon and bitter orange notes typical in wheat beers. My take on tasting it was a sweet citrus note that blended quite nicely with the oaky character.
Malts: I & G Ale Malt, Malted Wheat, Lager Malt
Hops: Super Styrian, Fuggle
Maturation: over bourbon-infused oak heartwood
Deschutes Hop Trip
The aptly named Hop Trip from the Bend, Oregon Deschutes Brewery is a fresh hop (or wet hop) ale. To clarify, this classification is reserved for beer made with hops that have been picked within 48 hours of being added to the brew kettle. In this case, the brewery team heads out to the Willamette Valley each year to pick, bag and load up fresh whole flower hops and then rush back to the brewery. What’s out-of-the-box is that while the majority of wet hop ales are made in the eponymous IPA style, this one is a pale ale. My assessment in sampling it is that this less bitter pale ale presentation allows the bright citrus and juicy grapefruit flavors and aroma of the fresh hops to shine. This brew has been offered by Deschutes for nearly a decade and is a part of its Bond Street Series.
Malts: Pale, Extra Special, Cara-Munich, Carapils, Munich
Hops: Bravo, Centennial, Fresh Crystal
Bob Barnes is editorial director of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional, regional correspondent for Celebrator Beer News and writes the Top 10 Beer lists for Gayot.com. He welcomes your inquiries and can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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