I'll tell you what, it can get pretty darned hot here in Georgia. I always tell people that it doesn't really get hotter than it did back in Rhode Island where I lived for so many years. In fact, it was a lot more humid up there, and I used to dread the pressure-cooker days of August. It does, however, seem to get hotter earlier here in the Peach State, and it stays hot longer into the fall.
Here it is mid June, and already we've had six days straight of mid-nineties. See what I mean? I don't complain about such things though (well, not too much anyway). Instead, I just pop open a beer-preferably something light and refreshing. You know, like a bottle of local Sweetwater brewery's Sch'Wheat American Wheat Ale.
But just what is an American wheat ale, you ask? Is it a wheat ale made in America? Is it a response to America's troublesome reliance on expensive foreign-produced wheat ales? Is the world running out of wheat ale? And just what the heck is wheat ale in the first place? Inquiring minds want to know.
Rest easy, America does not now and never has had a wheat ale gap, at least as far as this reviewer is aware. The original wheat beers are German in origin (although the Belgians have their own variety, too). You may know them as "Hefeweizen" (yeast-wheat), and that style of beer is famous for it's refreshing tartness and spicy notes of clove and banana.
The latter flavors are derived from the unique yeast strains used to ferment German Hefeweizens. The American wheat ale style uses a cleaner yeast strain that does not produce such spiciness. Technically, Sweetwater's version is still a hefeweizen since it's not filtered, although it's less interesting in a flavor than an authentic German example.
Sweetwater freely admits that Sch'Wheat is an entry level brew for the budding beer enthusiast. For a seasoned beer reviewer such as myself, I find it to be a decent hot-weather refresher, though not much more. I picked up a six-pack a few weeks ago and also enjoyed sipping a pint on the patio at Taco Mac a few weeks ago. Admittedly, the fact that Taco Mac was giving away Sch'Wheat logo pint glasses with a purchase of the beer had something to do with that. But Sch'Wheat did serve nicely to wash down a plate of spicy Nuclear Wings on that hot day.
Sweetwater Sch'Wheat American Wheat Ale pours to a slightly hazy light yellow color laced with a tinge of gold. A vigorous head of foam sits atop my glass after I pour, but it's short lived and fades quickly. The nose has a good amount of crisp malt aroma and hints at white-bread wheat as well. Taking a sip, I do like the crisp, biscuity malt here as well as the hint of tart wheat in the finish. Along with a subtle dose of grassy, gently bitter hops the wheat balances very nicely, and leaves the beer dry and very drinkable.
That makes this beer extremely well suited for warm-weather imbibing. And taken for what is, a warm weather quenching beer, I wouldn't turn down a Sch'Wheat now and then. All the same, I'm not so sure about the year-round availability, and probably wouldn't reach for this one in the middle of December.
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.