Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, USA - MAR 17, 2010
It seems like every craft brewery has a lawnmower fruit-themed wheat beer. Everyone from Samuel Adams to Saranac has gotten in on this trend and some make it work, but others don’t. In the case of Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat I’d say it rides the fence between craft beer and a flat-out gimmick. And while it would be easy to knock this beer I have to admit I liked it more than I disliked it and I’ll bet the average drinker would too.


When we think of wheat beers we tend to think of thick, cloudy beers that produce massive heads, but Blackbeary Wheat is quite the opposite. It pours like water which isn’t surprising considering how obviously thin the body is to the naked eye. It has the look of a pilsner with a clear, pale yellow color with plenty of carbonation noticeable. It initially produces a bright white, foamy head but it dissipates rather quickly and leaves zero lacing on the glass. Blackberry is very prominent in the nose along with other sweet, malty scents typical of fruity wheat beers of this style.


It’s difficult to honestly and accurately assess a beer of this style because it’s so different from most mainstream brews. But just because a beer is fruity and/or gimmicky doesn’t make it bad. If it tastes good, that’s what matters, right? Long Trail Blackbeary Wheat certainly passes (albeit barely) on that notion.

From the first swig to the last drop, the taste of blackberry is strong, fairly sweet and perhaps a little tart. The palate is mildly sweet with a significant watery component. It’s certainly refreshing and the flavor is drinker-friendly so as to taste good but won’t overwhelm the pedestrian drinker. For those of us who prefer something stronger and more complex it would be easy to fault this brew for being too direct – but I think that’s the point.


When I think of easy-drinking beers, fruity wheat beers such as this are usually what I think of. Blackbeary Wheat is indeed watery but at least it finishes smooth and clean. There’s a crispness to the body but the mouthfeel itself is easy (like, Bud Light-easy). I did notice a faint dry aftertaste, though.


Finish and body pretty much go hand-in-hand when it comes to a beer’s drinkability (and I’m considering combining these two components into one section of my beer reviews from now on). To call this beer light is stating the obvious and criticizing it for such is missing the point. At only 4% ABV, this beer belongs in the featherweight class.


I’m sure the brewers at Long Trail intend for Blackbeary Wheat to be an easy-drinking, lazy summer afternoon beer and if so I’d say they succeeded. However, as a beer in general there’s not much to it other than a sweet, mild taste and a ridiculously easy finish. So when you put it like that, I guess I’ve no choice but to recommend it.

Grade: 6/10

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