I am a huge wheat ale fan. I love to drink it any time of the year — summer on the patio, winter indoors while watching hockey — just about any time.
The problem for me is that wheat ales such as hefeweizens and witbiers tend to be summer-only styles of beer. They are more tropical and fruity than what you tend to find the other nine months of the year.
That being said, whenever May or June rolls in, there’s an endless supply of Belgian- and German-influenced wheat ales that deserve the patio treatment.
Sleeman’s Okanagan Springs Brewery out of Delta, B.C., makes one of the more popular wheat ales that’s available here in Manitoba. Their Apricot Summer Weizen is a German-style hefeweizen with — you guessed it — apricots.
My absolute favourite apricot wheat ale is St-Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale, but since the beer is not available in Manitoba, there’s always Okanagan’s Apricot Summer Weizen.
Weizen-style wheat ales generally are very cloudy due to the lack of filtration. They feature a good amount of carbonation and have notes of clove and banana.
Belgium has a near identical style wheat ale called witbier that is very much like the weizen, but with more of an orange and coriander flavour.
Okanagan Spring’s Summer Weizen is very much your typical German-style hefeweizen in appearance as it’s a murky golden/orange beer with minimal foam, and lots of carbonation.
The aroma is very pleasant and sweet with notes of apricots and peaches, a yeasty kick that you can expect in just about all weizens, a sweet sugary backing and a light spring flower aroma backing it up.
Let me taste this!
While I didn’t notice the typical banana notes in the aroma, it does make its way in the flavour somewhat. Being someone who doesn’t like the taste of bananas, usually I would cringe, but it’s light enough for me to not mind — thankfully.
There’s an apricot/peach sweetness that’s trying to make its way through the beer but is a bit too underwhelming for my tastes. The word "apricot" is scripted in much smaller text than the rest of the beer name on the label, so I’m assuming Okanagan Springs is focusing more on a German-style weizen more than an apricot ale.
There’s a bit of a gritty graininess from the malted wheat that leaves a bit of a lingering bitterness on my tongue, along with a hint of banana.
This is incredibly easy to drink, as I’m already on my third bottle and I just opened this case only an hour ago — but with the summer nights being hot on non-monsoon-rainy nights, it’s easy to sip on this as if it were water.
Okanagan Spring’s Apricot Summer Weizen needs more of an apricot fruitiness to it in my opinion, as the banana notes are at times a bit stronger than the apricot.
If you are looking for an alternative to Shock Top or Rickard’s White, this is certainly a good buy. It costs only $11.55 for six 341mL bottles and 5.0 per cent ABV.
If you’re lucky, they are giving away free beer glasses with your purchase, and you can’t go wrong with free glassware!
The Summer Weizen is only currently available at the 10th and Victoria Liquor Mart, but as summer progresses, it may be available at other stores.
Speaking of beer glasses, I’m not a fan of ice cold beer glasses.
You may not agree with me — they do have their place — but I find that ice cold beer mugs ruin the flavour of the beer if it’s anything other than Coors or Bud Light.
I love a chilled glass with some Moosehead, but with a weizen or witbier, I prefer a clean room temperature glass to get the most out of the beer’s flavour.
I’m also not a fan of random wedges of oranges added to my beer — partially for sanitary reasons, but usually the orange wedge would end up getting tossed aside. Most of the beers I drink that "need" orange wedges are more than flavourful enough without the additional orange added to them.