Harpoon Brewing Co., Ginger Wheat

Grade: A
Harpoon Brewing Co.

Sometimes limited edition beers are so layered, complex, and stuffed with strange ingredients that they are just too much. It's refreshing to find a beer that does include a strange ingredient, but simply decides to showcase it. The decision to pair the ginger with a light, relatively neutral wheat beer was a good one. I think the slight wheat tang works very well with the spicy, bright flavors of the ginger.

The one lasting impression I get from this beer is that it's refreshing. Fans of sushi will know ginger for it's palate cleansing attributes. The reason for the lump of pickled ginger next to your California roll is so you can clean up your taste buds in order to try the next course. Personally, I am craving a big platter of sushi right now, as I think this beer would pair perfectly with it. In fact, I've never encountered a beer that so directly inspired me to pair it with a food.

Pours fairly clear with a fluffy white head that takes it's time going away. The color is light straw, with tinges of gold. The ginger is immediately noticible, the first thing that hits your nose when you take a whiff. While the ginger is dominating, the wheat has a little tangy-element in there as well, and seems to work well with it's counterpart. Honestly, I've never smelled anything like this in a beer before. The mouthfeel is light, but there is a slightly creamy impression from the wheat. The ginger carries over into the flavor, but here the malts and the wheat start to come in more. The ginger is domineering though, and it's tough to get anything more out of this beer. There is a citrus note in the flavor that isn't hoppy. Upon looking at the label, it says that lemon juice was added, as well as honey. The citrus must be from the lemon juice, because there is a slight acidity coming from this beer, and it's not the carbonation. The honey may be adding a little to the mouthfeel and roundness of the beer, but I think it's primarily there to bump up the alcohol, which comes in at an even 7%.

Let me be clear: if you do not like ginger, you will not like this beer. However as I am a fan of ginger, I have to say that this is wonderfully inspiring. I want to cook with this, a stir fry with chicken and snow peas. I want to eat sushi with this. I want to drink this after a flight of double IPAs and barlywines, to bring my palate back to life and allow me to taste again. I wasn't looking for inspiration when I picked up this beer. Honestly I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of it, but I figured it was worth a look at least. I'm glad I looked.