3.6AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
I’ve never been a fan of fruity wheat beers because they seem so token to me. Just about every mid-level [craft] brewery and their brother brews some kind of “(insert fruit here) Wheat” and most often than not they’re just fruit-flavored light lagers.
I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that Samuel Adams would include a beer among its 2008 “Long Shot” winners that’s a much bolder take on this rather pedestrian style. Boston Beer Co. employee Carissa Sweigart’s “Cranberry Wit” is that beer. It’s got all the makings of a mainstream fruity wheat brew, but the difference is the heavier, more robust body and palate that’s complex, spicy, sweet, tart and smooth all at once.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
It’s usually a bad sign when a beer’s color is anything approaching the red/pink spectrum. While I wouldn’t say this beer is quite on that side of the color wheel, it is indeed peachy and hazy – like a dirty shade of amber. There is no sediment, but it is not transparent by any means. It forms a thick layer of firm, white foam which is slow to dissipate and leaves some lacing on the glass.
The aroma is characteristic of a generic fruity wheat beer with a slightly tart scent. Cranberries are noticeable but so are spices.
The best way to describe Long Shot Cranberry Wit is to take all my reviews of other fruity wheat beers and invert them. This is a beer that actually has really character and flavor to it. It’s not just fruit-flavored watery wheat beer, there’s actually genuine flavor.
Cranberry, as its name indicates, is the first and last ingredient I taste. It’s only slightly tart and very well-balanced through the addition of a spicy, complex palate. The label indicates the usage of cinnamon, coriander, orange peel and grains of paradise – all of which are detectable. The beer has a slight kick of spice on both the front and back end, but they do not overwhelm.
To me, this is would make a great Christmas beer, so it’s a nice change of pace drinking a beer of this style in the summer. I wouldn’t call it refreshing, but the taste does satisfy. It’s original enough to appreciate, but also mild enough to remain drinker-friendly.
With a thick, soft mouthfeel and a smooth finish, Long Shot Cranberry Wit is a very easy beer to drink. This really shouldn’t be surprising since fruity wheat beers are known for their drinkability, but considering just how complex and spicy the palate it that makes it an even more appreciable accomplishment.
I could tell only halfway through my first bottle that this was no ordinary summer slugging beer. Cranberry Wit has body through and through and at 5% ABV the statistics certainly back up that claim. I was able to drink two bottles back to back without feeling remotely overwhelmed. Nor was my palate saturated with spices, either.
I’ll be honest, I assumed Long Shot Cranberry Wit was going to be just another “girly” fruity wheat beer, so I was pleasantly surprised to realize just how unique this beer really is. This is a great compromise beer that will appeal to and satisfy lightweights and connoisseurs equally.