Alpine WIlly Vanilly American Wheat Ale

Alpine has had a good run - let's keep it going. This one is a wheat beer, and I have had a checkered past with wheat beers. This promises a bit with the addition of vanilla (which is featured by the name, so I expect it to potentially even overwhelm the beer).

The slightly cloudy, pale yellow beer doesn't have much of a head once it's poured, and then it dissipates even more. Eventually, the bubbles are a semicircle of stragglers. Points of nucleation continue to generate bubbles coming to the top, but their lives are short. The aroma they accompany is almost nothing. I can sense vanilla and grains, but they are on the very edges of smell.

First sip is a wheat ale - no question about it. I really taste the grains in addition to the slightly more than hint of vanilla. I can't say the initial taste is particularly inspiring. I can't help but think that this would benefit from some citrus hops or (as is usually the case for when these beers are presented in bars and restaurants) a wedge of lime, lemon, orange, or similar citrus fruit. I always thought that the addition of this fruit to the beer was to make up for a taste that the brewers should have added in their process. I still think that.

Tip-in is musty grains and a carbonation tickle, and the vanilla doesn't play a prominent role in this beginning. The middle rolls in with the grains and a bit of bread taking a back seat to water. The bland, nearly tasteless middle is pretty disappointing. Only the finish can save things now, and it brings a significant amount of mustiness and vanilla.

Bottom Line: Vanilla wasn't what it needed. It needed citrus hops. Go back and add them.



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