Friday has arrived and we all know that means it is time for my weekly segment of Tasting Notes. This week we are going off the craft beer trail a bit and taking a sensory journey with Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat from Shock Top Brewing Co. (St. Louis, Missouri).
I know that I may have a few confused readers at this point, but stick with me . . . I promise this gets interesting. I must preface this post with the fact that although I am the Birmingham/Alabama Craft Beer Examiner, my friends can attest to the fact that I will pretty much give any beer a shot no matter who makes it. Those that follow me on Twitter and Instagram have also witnessed my strange love for Bud Lime-a-Rita offerings and that should be a huge indicator that I am far from a beer snob. Also, with so many amazing craft breweries losing their “craft beer” status after buyouts and partnerships with the BMC big boys, the lines are getting blurred these days on how we should view the all too often excluding term that is “craft beer”. That said, the folks at Shock Top happened upon my page here and took notice of my Tasting Notes segment. Their representative has extreme confidence that Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat can stand up to the other beers I have detailed and reviewed in the past, and they asked if I’d be willing to give this beer a shot. I shy away from few challenges and happily accepted, so here we are.
Before we get to the Tasting Notes, let’s cover some particulars about Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat Beer. This offering is a fall seasonal from Shock Top Brewing that has been available since November of 2015 and will be leaving shelves at the end of February of this year. This brew is a “Belgian-style, unfiltered wheat ale with 5.2% ABV” and boasts having flavor and aromatic notes of pretzels that are fresh from the bakery. Twisted Pretzel Wheat can be found in six-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles, and in 16 oz. cans in Alabama and throughout Shock Top’s distribution area.
Now that we have those bases covered, let’s break out the bar snacks and get to some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat from Shock Top Brewing Co.
Appearance: Twisted Pretzel Wheat pours up a dark, burnt caramel brown in color. Held to the light, the beer shifts to a lighter brown with orange hues (slightly reminiscent of its Wheat Beer classification) pushing through. The pour got me two fingers of loose, off white to barely khaki-colored foam that quickly receded to a thin ring. This ring tries its best to notch the glass at times after some sips, but it has very little stick to it. For an unfiltered beer, it is remarkably clear with a lazy carbonation streaming through the body. This is absolutely a different take when it comes to the look of a “Wheat Beer”, but it still has a nice presentation to it other than the lack of head retention.
Aroma: As soon as my nose got anywhere near the foam on this beer, I was actually hit with the aroma of freshly baked pretzels. I’m talking about a clear note of warm pretzels, brushed with butter and lightly salted. Belgian yeast and coriander try to push through at times, but the bready pretzel notes definitely hold as the dominate force in this category. Big time kudos here for absolutely nailing that note.
Taste: The flavor shifts gears a bit and actually starts with the notes one would expect from a Belgian Wit: yeast, coriander, other light spices and orange peel. Those notes are slowly overtaken by a touch of caramel and then the bready, pretzel-like qualities. I do wish the salty pretzel notes were as present here as in aroma, but there is definitely enough here to keep this brew tasty and me returning for each additional sip.
Mouthfeel: Twisted Pretzel Wheat is light in body with a pretty nice carbonation level to it. This combo makes the beer very bright on the palate and it dries out cleanly. Just as it should be, the alcohol level is nowhere to be found. Despite the use of darker malts, the beer remains incredibly easy drinking/quenching and it also avoids any overly sweet or cloying notes. The aftertaste is just a touch of salt and a light pretzel note.
Final Thoughts: I approached this beer just as I would any novelty offering from a craft brewery, and I have to say that I was left happily surprised by the overall experience. The bready, pretzel-like notes absolutely translate into the world of beer, but it is slightly strange to have such a big presence in a Belgian Wheat Beer base. The use of caramel malts definitely help bridge that gap and it was done with what appears to be a deft hand. All in all, I have to say my time with Shock Top Twisted Pretzel Wheat has been quite enjoyable (although sometimes confusing), and I would happily drink this brew again if it was put in front of me. If your mind is open and this beer sparks your interest, look for it now wherever you normally find Shock Top offerings. Prost!