Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

312 Urban Wheat

Other reviews for this beer:
Eddie Glick one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer read it ›
Goose Island Beer Co.
Chicago, IL

Style: American Wheat
ABV: 4.2%

Franz’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Drinkable, but flawed)

Pair With:
• Halibut
• Salads
• Salmon
While perusing the local liquor store and staring at the great wall of craft brews, it came to me that I had an itch for a weissbier. What is a weissbier you ask? If you have ever had a Leinenkugel Honeyweiss, then you have had what Germans call a wheat beer. Other than Honeyweiss, there weren’t many craft brews from the Midwest on the wall-o-beer. I did however spot Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat. As I started to grab for it, on the bottom shelf, a thought came to me. A while back I had heard that Anheuser-Busch had bought stock in the company so I quickly and awkwardly backed away. You should have seen the reaction on the faces of the people around me. I’m pretty sure they thought something was wrong with me (mentally that is), so I turned to them and told them I had a kink in my back. Now that that embarrassing situation was over with I could move on and rethink buying this beer associated with the “Axis of Evil”. Let it be known to all out there that Franz Muller never turns down the opportunity to try any type of beer. So I went with this logic and went to the checkout with this brew. If the beer sucked then I could rip on Anheuser-Busch for putting stock into another one of their shit beers. If it’s good then I’ll tell it like it is.

Before I review a beer the label must be read. It gives me insight to what the beer has to offer and makes for good reading if the company plasters anything interesting on the label. For this brew, what hit me was that they said it was unfiltered which is typical of a weissbier. Maybe this won’t be as bad as I thought. As I poured the beer into the glass the unfiltered characteristic came into view along with a straw color, but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Picture the color yellow—gold with considerable haze and that is what I usually associate a weissbier to look like. Then I took a little sniff and taste. The only smell present was a faint hop aroma and an almost non-existent banana undertone. The beer tasted watered down with a hint of banana. To give some insight on what exactly makes this banana aroma and what a weissbier should smell and taste like, I will dig back to my days studying yeast at one of the fine universities of this country and the wealth of knowledge I have learned in the brewing industry.

Most people want their wheat ales to exhibit a chemical called 4-vinyl-guaiacol or 4VG, which in sensory terms is defined as being phenolic. This is commonly associated as smelling clove-like, spicy, or herbal. Another notable smell in good wheat beers is banana or the chemical responsible, isoamyl acetate. These chemicals are produced by almost all strains of yeast. The reason these are more pronounced in wheat beers has to do with a chemical, ferulic acid, which is abundant in wheat malt. A specialized yeast strain that utilizes this chemical, more so than other strains, is what also contributes these characteristics. A wheat ale should have a medium hop aroma and the yeast should still be present in the bottle. It is all this, and more, that gives a weissbier its very own style.

To finish this review I would like to inform readers that if Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat Ale is staring you in the face at the local liquor store when you are craving a “good” wheat beer, don’t grab it. It may seem appealing considering some of the beers they produce are somewhat good, but maybe the good folks at Goose Island could rename this beer. Instead I would consider calling this a hybrid wheat ale. It has some of the characteristics of a wheat ale but more clearly resembling what a major brewery would produce (definition: less taste, color, aroma and bitterness resulting in fewer ingredients and more profit). If you are looking for a good wheat beer then I would consider trying some other Midwestern craft beer first. If there are none available, then any imported German wheat ale will do. So until the next review, I will say Auf Wiedersehen.

Reviewed by Franz Mueller on March 20, 2007.
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