Wheat is the new hops, from Mikkeller, is reviewed by Chris Hall.
Wheat Is the New Hops
Mikkeller is the craft brewing scene’s version of a travelling minstrel. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Gypsy brewer’, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø has no brewery of his own, but rents space in others, and collaborates with many of the world’s best brewers to produce incredible beers. This collaboration with Grass Roots (based in Denmark but actually a subsidiary of a US brewer, I think – it’s confusing and not really important), describes itself as an IPA brewed with wheat.
Wheat Is The New Hops pours a bright, hazy gold, with a thick, weissbier-like head, and offers lots of fresh bakery aromas, little whiffs of syrupy flapjacks, ginger and lime.
The first sip is sharp, sweet, tingling with lemon and sticky like brandy snaps. A mouthful slips right around the sides of your tongue, leaving crunchy butter biscuits at the front and a smack of ginger, grapefruit and lime at the back. There’s yeasty, bready mouthfeel that is a hundred times better than it sounds. It’s utterly delicious, sharp, zesty and reviving. The delicate use of hops is just enough to bring texture to a very saison-like beer. If this is IPA, then it has been completely desiccated and rebuilt with wheat into some kind of witbier Robocop.
Despite all the refreshment qualities this beer has, it is not (you’ll be glad to know) a beer of the summer. This is a delicacy, to be enjoyed with care and if possible, with excellent food. It’s perfectly suited to Asian cuisine, but particularly anything fragrant and aromatic enough to stand up to bounty of flavour on offer. Thai curries, with their use of lime leaves and coconut, are a safe choice, and this beer cuts through spring rolls like Alexander through the proverbial Gordian knot. Only a beer this excellent could bring me to use a simile that pretentious.