Thursday, November 28, 2013

Apple Is the New Pumpkin

Hard cider is everywhere and with it, apple-flavored malt beverages that are to cider what Pat Boone was to Little Richard.

Yet Shock Top beer, a craft-y arm of the Anheuser-Busch behemoth, did something that no other cider pretender has done. At least not that we've encountered.

Their Honeycrisp Apple Wheat brew combines a Belgian-style wheat beer with cider-ish flavor. A daring drinker could probably get the same effect, and maybe better results, by pouring specific amounts of a favorite wheat beer and a tasty hard cider into a mug without letting anyone else dictate the taste.

But Shock Top's effort does the work for you and the result is refreshing and not nearly as sweet as we anticipated. The wheat beer isn't as prominent, it's more like a cracker with a big slice of Granny Smith apple on it. And in a pleasant divergence from the typical big-brewery attack, the fruit isn't sticky with sugar.

It's worth a try for something different. The light, almost sour taste -- for the apple element is much closer to Granny Smiths than Honeycrisp -- made for a good contrast to the heavy, dark beers that stock shelves during the winter.

And ignore that ridiculous label too.