Two years ago I had the great pleasure of touring Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City. From the reception area to the barrel room to the final tasting, everything was spectacular, but my favorite part was sampling the brewery’s wheat wine, Harvest Dance. Up to that point in my beerducation, I’d slung back my share of barleywines, but had never come across wheat wine (these use 50 percent or more wheat malt, for those keeping count). Since then, they’ve become my favorite sipping style, offering just as much sweetness and booze as barleywines, but with lower hop levels (it’s bitter enough outside this time of year). For me, they’re simply the quintessential winter beer, delivering a hefty dose of warming alcohol alongside complex sweet, fruity malts. Try one of these beers and you’ll soon be a convert, too.
Boulevard Harvest Dance
This hazy orange beer bursts with tropical scents: Papaya, mango and a hint of pineapple lazily drift up to the nose with a touch of soft bread. Clean wood notes spread over the tongue with fresh baked bread flavors as a taste of the tropics emerges in the back: Pineapple mingles with orange flavors and a kiss of Chardonnay; just a hint of funk adds earthiness to this bright beer. Harvest Dance has an unmistakably sharp alcoholic bite, but doesn’t overwhelm the wealth of flavors that linger on the tongue.
Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale
With an auburn hue and fleeting white head, Smuttynose’s Wheat Wine fills the air with toasted bread crust and a dash of herbal, minty hops. Go in for a second whiff and you’ll find sweet caramel poking out behind the growing mint scents. This viscous beer slides over the tongue with toasted and caramel-sweet malts. Spicy alcohol needles through the flavors, while sweet orange blossoms in the back. Hot from front to back, alcohol dries the mouth, roughing up the tongue while toasted malts and a hint of mint remain.