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Think brew, not bread

Quench summer thirst with these bubbly wheat beers.

By Mark Andel

Zesty, extra foamy and highly carbonated, wheat beers are the ideal summer brew. Their cloudy gold hues are a tribute to the "hazy days of summer," and the vaguely sweet, licorice flavor is balanced by notes of nutmeg and citrus.

Here are some of our favorite thirst-quenching wheat beers:

American Dream Ale, $4
Award-winning brewmaster Pete Crowley has just tapped the kegs on Rock Bottom Brewery's new frothy-headed, medium-bodied and distinctly American wheat beer. Pacific Northwest hops provide a creamy head and citrusy character, accentuated by a lemon wedge garnish. Have a pint or two on the rooftop beer garden.

Blue Moon, $4
At the recent Indie Pop Fest at the Abbey Pub, the room was a sea of Blue Moon, a Belgian white ale served in pint glasses and garnished with a big orange slice. "Certain acts sell more Blue Moon," manager Pat Looney says. "I'm not sure why, but we really blew through it that night." With its vibrant gold, semi-clouded color and slice of fruit, the drink looks as good as it tastes. Try it now, because summer is the only time Blue Moon is on tap at this Irish bar.

Top Heavy Hefe-weizen, $5
Piece brewmaster Jonathon Cutler makes this assertive hefe-weizen (German for "hazy wheat") beer with 66 percent German wheat malt, which contributes to the extra-frothy head and flavor that's as refreshing as slice of lemon meringue, with hints of banana cream and clove thrown in. Stop in on Karaoke Thursdays, when the bar sells tall 22-ounce glasses of Top Heavy for $4.

Bell's Oberon Ale, $4.50
This tart, refreshing ale can be found on tap at Ginger's Ale House, served in pint glasses with a fresh lemon wedge (though some claim that the lemony beer tastes like a wedge was already squeezed into the glass). Oberon has great presence and body, full of verve and fruit flavors, and is the perfect accompaniment to the pub's chilled pasta salad or a club sandwich. Although this is a fairly local product (brewed in Kalamazoo, Mich.), it's not available in many places, and brewing production stops in September. A smirking sun on the bottle's label gives the impression that it's pleased with its rank as a top summer wheat brew.

Hacker-Pschorr Weisse, $6
Enjoy this classic, champagne-quality German beer in its rightful setting: upscale champagne bar Narcisse. It's easy to fall in love with the beer's delightful crispness and flavors of banana, maple and citrus. Make sure your server pours it properly, rolling the inverted bottle over the glass to ensure that all of the creamy yeast sediment makes its way into your glass.

Mark Andel is a metromix special contributer.

Originally published July 9, 2003.