3 Bottles + a Book: Wheats from Canada, the US and Brazil, Plus a Literary Twist

I got wrapped up in the development of what will henceforth be calls ‘Special Project 3b’ and thus missed posting yesterday’s 3 Bottles + a Book. So, in the spirit of ‘better late than never,’ here it is on Thursday morning…

Berliner WeissNew Glarus Brewing’s Berliner Weiss is a part of the brewery’s “Thumbprint” series and so a limited edition, but it’s a limited edition anyone within spitting distance of Wisconsin should have on their radar. Pale gold with what is, for a Berliner, a rather delicate and softly tangy aroma, holding notes of white wine grapes, gooseberry and lemon verbena, this appears at first a somewhat tame approach to the style. Until, that is, it hits the lips with a surge of tangy, lemony sharpness, followed by a slight growth in fruitiness, notably in notes of papaya, and some sour milk flavours – in a good way – with a lightness of body that makes it all work so very well. The finish leaves a bit of sourness on the tongue, but refreshes wonderfully, marking this as an even-handed, thoroughly enjoyable and delicious take on a style of beer now brewed far more frequently in North America than it is in Germany.

Continuing on the wheat theme, we have the Muskoka Brewery’s Summer Weiss, a medium gold beer with only a slight haziness to it. On the nose, this is allSummer Weiss about the sweet fruit, overripe banana and a hint of tangerine, with some clove notes appearing as it warms. The body stays principally sweet, with plenty of fruitiness, almost but not quite straying towards the cloying side, and just a bit of peppery, clovey spiciness. For a beer described as a weiss, this doesn’t have quite enough Germanic character for my tastes, leaving me to characterize it as more an American wheat ale-weissbier hybrid, albeit a most approachable one that will likely find many Ontario fans this summer.

Finally, in what has unintentionally become a wheat beer edition of 3 Bottles, I offer you Cervejaria Coruja’s Alba Weizenbock from Brazil. Made with a bit of smoked malt in its grain bill, this deep gold and quite hazy brew offers a subdued aroma of lightly roasted banana, although the restrained nature of the nose likely had something to do with the cold temperature at which it was served during the 20th anniversary Mondial de la Bière, held earlier this month. On the palate, it’s rich and fruity from start to finish, with spicy, clovey notes and apple skin in the middle and a dryish, lightly phenolic and smoky finish. I liked this a lot when I tasted it a couple of years ago in Blumenau, Brazil, and I think I might even like it a little bit more now.

Considering today’s theme, it’s tempting to include Stan Hieronymus’ 2010 opus, Brewing with Wheat, as my book pick, but aside from not having a copy at hand, that would give Stan two of four books thus far featured here, and that would be unfair. Instead, then, let us go back to the realm of cocktails with Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle.

On the surface, this book promising “cocktails with a literary twist” is more novelty than anything else, but remember what they say about judging books by their covers, or in this case, by their themes? Turns out this is a wonderfully entertaining read, slight enough to be digested in one sitting, clever enough to be entertaining even if you never make a single one of the cocktails. In fact, go ahead and forget the recipes! The entertainment is at least as much in the introductions to the drinks.

Product DetailsYou’ll work hard to find a cocktail within the pages of this book made from more than four ingredients, or with greater complexity than The Lord of the Mai-Tais – get it?! – but the intros are fun and lively and some of the add-on hugely entertaining. I hate drinking games, for example, but the two pages Federle offers at the back of the book had me chuckling out loud.

In other words, this is a cocktail book for reading, and aside from a few of the more serious tomes out there – DeGroff’s Essential Cocktails, Abou-Ganim’s Modern Mixologist – there aren’t too many of those around!

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