065: New Belgium Sunshine Wheat
I want to start this off with a disclosure and then an anecdote and finally my thoughts on New Belgium’s Sunshine Wheat.
First the disclosure, I have always wanted to write about beer. As a guy who was a college student as the craft beer revolution finally began to edge its way into Florida I had the distinct pleasure of softly exploring the world of beer. I started at the bottom with those classic standbys of Budweiser, Miller, and all their lighter varieties. Luckily we then progressed into slightly more interesting if not necessarily inventive options such as Yuengling, Guiness, Blue Moon, and Woodchuck. I have no illusions that these are not what are now considered craft beers, but at the time they were leaps and bounds better than what we were routinely guzzling at parties. It was only towards the end of my career at FSU (approximately 2009) that we started to get access to the better stuff. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Sweetwater Blue and 420, New Belgium Fat Tire were among the first. However, shortly after this initial renaissance I shipped off to Korea which to be fair may have some of the worst beer in the world. A year later when I returned the craft beer renaissance had hit Florida like a tidal wave and I dove right in. Two and half years and close to 300 different beers later I surfaced with a new outlook on beer, one of moderation. A view point where I can enjoy the slamming hops of a Cigar City Jai Alai, pick out the intricacies of a Left Hand Fade To Black Vol. 4, and savor the cool, malty crispness of a Miller High Life.
Now, you may think that was also the anecdote, but that means I tricked you because it wasn’t. In those early days of climbing into the light of better beer we discovered Blue Moon and it was good. We thought it was so clever how you could put a slice of orange in it and it almost became a different beverage. We drank a lot of it. The plain kind, the Winter Abbey kind, and every other kind. Long story short, I drank too much and burned myself out on wheat beers. When I came back from Korea I found myself eschewing wheat beers at every chance. Occasionally I’d try a hefeweizen of some sort, but between my bad blood with the style and the seemingly muted flavors a wheat beer had when compare with the all the other monster beers I was having I just didn’t find them appealing.
Then magically one day about 2 weeks ago New Belgium brewing made it through Central Florida’s weird distributor blockade and magically appeared on shelves and tap lists across the land. And there was much rejoicing. The wife and I ran out and picked up 12 bombers thanks to Publix’s Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale. We mainly grabbed Fat Tire and Ranger, but they happened to have two bottles of the Sunshine Wheat left and in a strangely nonchalant moment I said “Why the hell not” and gently placed them in the cart.
A few days later I found myself sitting down to enjoy a beverage, decided to crack open that bottle of Sunshine and suddenly my whole world view on wheat beers changed. See, to me most wheats, that I’ve tried at least, are infested with some kind of flavoring no matter how subtle and that always seems to bug me. Sunshine wheat though? No such flavoring just a nice unmitigated beer flavor. I’d almost go so far as to call it a “craft light beer”. Is that blasphemy? Also, I have found most similar beers to have a sort of thick, almost chewy mouth feel to them as if they were trying to be a stout but just failing so much. Sunshine Wheat has a crisp clearness to it that almost made me think of a lager the way it went down so easily.
So if you’re looking for a great new beer to be part of your regular rotation for the rest of the summer, let me recommend New Belgium’s Sunshine Wheat. Bring a few bombers of this to a party this summer and you’ll impress people with your excellent taste and how easy it is to drink even in the afternoon swelter. On top of that, it’s not a terribly complicated beer which means it has a great chance of winning some people over from the dark side. This beer is an all around winner and if you haven’t had it yet, then get out there and jump on it.