Friday, April 24, 2009

Michelob Honey Wheat

Another tasting, from the Michelob line of more adventurous beers from ABIB.

I'll be honest, this one is not going to get more than a few swallows. "The signature ingredient" in the beer is orange blossom honey... and there's no getting around it. This is one sweet beer, too damned sweet for this mother's child. It's kind of weird in that it's not overly heavy, or even cloying, but it's just sweeeeeeeet. Yuck-kinda sweet. There's some body to it, and even a little of that orange blossom, but -- No. Too sweet. I like honey in beer, but for the effects, not the flavor. I like to taste honey on fresh bread, not in my beer. I like the roundness honey can provide, I like the extra ooomph it can give a beer without pumping up the body. But not this.

10 comments:

wahoo said...

What's odd about this (and other honey beers like Sam Adams Honey Porter) is that honey, when added to beer as an ingredient pre-fermentation, is almost entirely converted to alcohol by the yeast. This is similar to the effect sugar (table, candi, or invert) has in those oh-so-dry and drinkable belgian ales.

This means that ABIB is either adding honey after fermentation and then pastuerizing the beer, a process known as back-sweetening, or (hopefully) using Honey Malt or some other overly sweet type of grain to get this effect.

The end result leaves me scratching my head, because Honey can be an excellent ingredient in beer if you're not trying to hit someone over the head with it. Bell's Hopslam is a good example.

Lew Bryson said...

Exactly what I was getting at. I suspect they're adding post-fermentation, since they do say right on the label that it is honey. Only thing I can figure...is that a common complaint about honey beers is "I can't taste honey." Most people don't realize that this is a good thing.

sam k said...

"Most people don't realize that this is a good thing."

A good thing to those of us with perspective, that is. I worked in the winery that used to be next door to me when the owners wanted time away, and I was instructed to ask if they liked dry or sweet wines as an indicator of where to start their tasting experience.

Most people's response would be "dry," but when I poured them a dry wine, they wrinkled up their nose and asked for something sweeter.

I'm convinced they knew that discriminating drinkers preferred dry wines, so they honestly thought they would, too. But when reality struck, they ran straight for the Niagara.

The sweetness of this will no doubt appeal to the hoi polloi. It's not intended for us.

Carey said...

Lew and wahoo, you make good subtle points. While most of the saccharides are likely digestible in secondary the result is an effect, not a taste, as you mentioned. Like a residual tart effect as opposed to a cherry taste. For a more mainstream beverage, I suppose the marketing is better realized if it tastes like cherries, honey, etc. I notice this with the wits that have hit the market. There is almost a lemon overlay, rather than lemon, orange, coriander woven into the beer.

Lew Bryson said...

Well-noted on the witbiers, Carey. That's my main complaint with the majority of them: too heavy-handed with the citrus. It seems to come from the same mindset that thinks of lambics as "fruit beers."

Anonymous said...

I picked up a case of the Michelob Wheat Variety Pack in PA for about $23 and to my surprise there was a $10 rebate form attached. $13 for "craft" beer? That's cheaper than Lionshead, even if it is Michelob.

Prosumer said...

I'm not a big fan of wheat beers in general, so I probably won't try this specific honey beer. However, I'm a mead brewer, so I do like the idea of honey flavor in beer.

What does everyone think about the Michelob honey lager? I really like it, especially since the honey is balanced by a good hopping level (20 IBU, I think).

As for adding honey, in general, it's not just the different type of sugars that have an effect, it's also the flavor compounds found in the honey, including beta-demascenone, methyl ethyl ketone, and benzyl alcohol, amoung many others.

As far as sweetness goes, I'm not a fan of honey beers that go too sweet. However, we must remember that beer with hops is a relatively recent preference in the history of the drink. Sam k has it right on: a sweet honey beer might be appropriate for those who prefer it...

Chris Clair said...

Plus one on all previous comments about using honey. Fermented honey does not taste like raw honey as any mead maker knows (BTW, we MAKE mead & wine and we BREW beer. No heat in mead & wine making.).

But no matter what you are producing and what ingredients you are using, it all comes down to the harmony and balance in the final product. And less tends to be more. There are beers that are interesting to taste and beers that are interesting to drink. I like the drinkin' kind!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more on this one. I actually took a sip of one this weekend and no way was I drinking one down. It WAS super sweet, and I thought the same thing you guys have pointed out here - The honey must have been added at the end of the process, be cause it comes across as beer with 2 table spoons of honey in it, the type of flavor I'm looking for in my tea when I have a nasty cough, not in my beer, thanks.

Jason said...

I have given up on honey in beer. The latest being Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss. I'm like you- I like honey but not in my beer.

Great article on session beer in All About Beer (March 09)