don't know how it happened. I can't see how it can be. But last year, your
friendly neighborhood Bruguru missed the debut of Michelob's Hop Hound
Amber Wheat. But that's OK. Because like a dog bringing back the stick
you just tossed into the pond, the Hop Hound is back. And with dogged
determination, I set out to find some. Well, OK. I can't support that. In
fact, it may just be that I saw a bottle in the singles section at Total
Wine the other day and bought one. That might be more likely. Either way,
I've got a bottle of the 2009 edition of this canine concoction before me,
and as you may have already have guessed, you're about to hear about it.
Anheuser-Busch seems quite determined to jump on the craft brew bandwagon
these days, and it appears their recent acquisition by Inbev has not delayed
that in the least. Thus, they've rolled out a regular array of seasonal
beers under some of their brand names. Of course, I'm not expecting a
Natural Lite Lambic any time soon. But some of these brews are actually
pretty good, and to be fair, this is what beer geeks have always wanted from
Unfortunately, Hop Hound Amber Wheat is not a pretty good beer. To my taste,
it's not really a good one, either, and it's having a hard time making fair
to middling, if you must know. Michelob offers this brew as their spring
seasonal. They brew it with wheat malt as well as pale and caramel barley
malts. The result is a sort of hybrid between pale ale and wheat beer, one
that's topped off with hops, Hallertaus, Willamettes, and Cascades to be
exact. Surprisingly, AB claims there are 25 IBUs (International Bitterness
Units) here. A lot for them, actually, and about twice what you get in a
glass of Budweiser. But let's taste the beer, shall we?
Michelob Hop Hound Amber Wheat pours to a cloudy orange color with a very
impressive head formation and a very barley-ish, slightly chewy caramel
nose. I decant my bottle through a side pour into a classic German wheat
beer glass, and I get about a full inch of head. This beer is
bottle conditioned, and adding the yeast will impart a definite nutty
character to the beer. A sip reveals a generous amount of that
chewy caramel malt flavor that the nose promised along with a gentle
suggestion of citrus fruit (perhaps lemons?). A little tart wheat comes
through, but obviously the barley malt is responsible for a higher portion
of the mash than usual in wheat beers. Then the hops kick in, especially if
you allow the beer to warm to room temperature. They're grassy
and surprisingly bitter.
Hop Hound Amber Wheat is certainly a drinkable enough brew, and
interestingly enough the caramel malt imparts a slightly dunkelweizen-like
character. But it's also disjointed, and I don't think this one works. It's
not just that the high proportion of caramel malt is at odds with the wheat
malt; the hops seem out of place too. Most wheat beers are hopped relatively
lightly, and for good reason: this allows the tart, crisp wheat flavor to
shine through. Here, it's drowned out.
Not a beer I would likely drink again
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For
reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.