If I put a beer in front of you and told you it was from Heretic or Short’s and designed to mimic the flavor of s’mores, you’d probably be pretty excited to give it a spin. But what if I told you it was the newest release in AB-InBev’s line of Shock Top beers?
Last week, I had a panel of BJCP judges blind taste the new Shock Top Campfire Wheat, and the results were surprising: The novelty beer was pretty damn good.
I use the word “surprising” for a number of reasons. For a brewery that’s only dipped its toes into the large pool of beer styles, brewing a s’mores beer is like plunging into the deep end. Although the beer itself is only available on draft in limited amounts at four beer festivals this spring, the very fact that AB-InBev is letting a crazy beer like this slip out of its R&D brewery hints at what might be in store for the future. The other reason why this beer surprised me has already been well documented by others: The ridiculous and unhelpful media kit packaging didn’t suggest a quality beer experience.
So what made this beer so good? It delivered on its promise. The thing tasted exactly like s’mores: Slightly scorched marshmallow upfront, followed by easy waves of sweet chocolate and graham cracker. It was kind of incredible.
When I finally revealed the beer’s origin to the judges, the initial reaction was disbelief—followed by a few extra sips to make sure what they tasted was correct. But that disbelief quickly washed away: After all, AB-InBev has pockets deep enough for weird experiments inside its R&D brewery (I once heard a story about them making a carrot beer on a whim), state-of-the-art equipment and talented brewers when let loose. In short: They weren’t going to put something like this out there if it sucked.
Will we eventually see this beer on shelves? I have absolutely no idea. Would I recommend it to someone who likes s’mores? Yes.