As a serious beer person, what would you expect of a beer called Lemon Wheat? And what if, like me, you have been universally disappointed with every beer I have yet tasted with the word ‘lemon’ in its name? (I’m looking at you, Lemon Lagers…!) And don’t get me started on the “marriage of lemon and wheat,” which has beget that curious practice of serving wheats with a lemon wedge! That stuff belongs to beers with no taste, not ones that already have a refreshing and lemony crispness, not to mention a bunch of other spicy and fruity flavours.
And so, Abita Lemon Wheat. I open the bottle with trepidation. I expect little. I anticipate sweet and sickly lemon-ness.
More fool me!
What Louisiana’s Abita has done here is take pilsner malt and wheat mash, hop it with Centennial hops, ferment it with a bière de garde yeast, and finish the whole thing with lemon peel. The net effect being that this little 4.4% alcohol brew is a crisp, flavourful, utterly refreshing delight!
Light and hazy gold in the glass, it starts with an aroma that somehow manages to hit the nose sweet, but almost immediately turn more dry and perfumey, reminding me in the end of what I think limoncello should smell like, as opposed to what it usually does smell like.
On the palate, a just off-dry maltiness hits first, followed by lemon zest and a bit of lemon juice, then back to a biscuity maltiness alongside a rising spicy-citrus hop, and finally a dryish, mild to moderately bitter finish. Lemony, yes, but first and, I think, foremost a flavourful, well-structured quaffer.
Congratulations, Abita, on not only a great summer beer, but also proving that, like a book, it’s best not to judge a beer by its cover!