you think “wheat beer” you tend to think of lightly-colored brews with
fluffy heads and banana notes. Anchor Winter Wheat is about 180 degrees
removed from that image as it’s dark as a porter and opts more for
roasted maltiness and hints of dark fruit. In fact, this probably is
better judged as a porter than any kind of wheat beer, though I suppose
“specialty grain” would be the appropriate style to view it as. It’s
certainly an interesting beer and definitely has a unique recipe, and in
that aspect it works pretty well.
I poured a 12oz bottle into a weizen glass. It was bottled on 9/26/14 and cost $2.75 ($0.23 per ounce).
Appearance: Deep black in color with red highlights. Pours to a large,
brown, foamy head which mostly dissipates, but laces fairly well.
Smell: Mild nose with hints of dark malt, some fruity sweetness, and milky/dairy notes.
Taste: The first thing I notice about this beer is that it really
doesn’t taste particularly wheaty, despite the brewery’s description of
so many different varieties of wheat used in the brewing process. It’s
closer to a standard porter as the dark malt is the most prominent
flavor and it finishes – initially – with a dry bitterness and a dark
chocolate sensation. Eventually, that confectionery note gives way to a
general mélange of dark fruit and dark malt. The wheat is surprisingly
muted, creating for just a slight tanginess on the finish. I did enjoy
the almost lactose-like character, but I wanted so much more. Why not
ferment with Bavarian yeast to give it a chocolate-covered banana taste?
No that would’ve been memorable.
Drinkability: I was rather shocked to see the 7% ABV on the label, since
Anchor Winter Wheat drinks more like a light-bodied summer wheat. The
mouthfeel is soft and calm and goes down smooth like a hefeweizen.
However, it doesn’t have the gusto or raw energy of a strong beer, which
it should. I appreciate the easy drinkability, but I’ll penalize it for
finishing entirely too clean.