I was a bit hesitant buying this bier, I must admit. MobCraft is one for two on the weizen front to my taste. Don't get me wrong, Batshit Crazy is a very tasty beer, in my humble opinion - the folks at MobCraft are not untalented. And that the other beers of theirs that I've had range from awful to good is not a hanging offense. But none of their brews really jump out at me as having that special, ineffable something that makes any of them extraordinary. Sometimes I get the impression that the brewery spends too much time brewing the often novelty crowd-sourced beers that they're known for.
Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that MobCraft quit fielding ideas for beers from the unwashed masses. You gotta dance with the one that brung ya, after all. However, I do feel that MobCraft's beers are largely middle-of-the-road and sometimes I wonder what would happen if they were forced to brew straight-up beers. I am going to review a hefeweizen here. Can MobCraft brew a good hefeweizen without tea, fruit, or elements of a gose? I don't know and MobCraft don't seem eager to try. With most of their beers being very hoppy, barrel-aged, having coffee, vanilla, fruit, and so on, it's hard to gauge the level of talent that MobCraft has.
Let's move onto Cranberry Alvarez
which was renamed Cranberry Censored for reasons unknown to me. Presumably Barry Alvarez or another bigwig at the UW was unamused.
Cranberry Alvarez pours a dull light red. The dullness is the result of the bier's cloudiness which, in turn, is the result of proteins from the wheat. I got a big pink head on my pour. It was one of those stiffies – a rigid head that you get a little bit of with each sip but there will be a bit of left when all the liquid is gone. There were oodles of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. I thought it was a nice looking bier.
Wisconsin leads the nation in growing cranberries and I'm going to assume that MobCraft used native fruit in this bier. If this is the case, then Cranberry Alvarez's aroma smacks of Wisconsin with a wonderful tart cranberry bouquet accompanied by some wheat/bread in there too. The hefeweizen is often a well-carbonated bier and Cranberry Alvarez is no exception. It's a light and bubbly bier with some nice cranberry tartness hitting the spot. But I could taste only a little grain and even less of the trademark yeast flavors which here was a shade of banana. Overall the bier was thin. As it warmed some grapefruit hop flavor came out (the Mosaic hops, I presume).
The finish was quite dry with the lingering cranberry tartness joined by the carbonation and moderate grassy hop flavor and a fair amount of bitterness. My glass was lined with webs of Schaumhaftvermoegen
which made for a pretty ending.
While I liked the cranberry in Cranberry Alvarez, the bier was watery. There was very little of the expected phenolic flavors, although I give them a modicum of credit for using yeast that gave more pungent banana flavors than clove ones. If not tasting much like a hefeweizen is this bier's cardinal sin, then its venial one is being overly hoppy, especially on the finish. To me, hops in a hefeweizen should basically be also-rans. The style is about a wheat/malt stage to showcase the flavors born of the yeast. Even lacking the latter, I think the hoppiness present would have interfered with a fully armed and operationa hefeweizen.
Junk food pairing: Pair Cranberry Alvarez with some trail mix. A little salt to help bring out the subdued grain taste and some dried fruit sweetness to make up for the lackluster yeast flavors.
Labels: Beer, Hefeweizen, MobCraft, Weissbier