Beer of the Week: Alaskan Brewing Pilot Series Raspberry Wheat

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Alaskan Brewing makes some pretty solid beers, but where they really excel is with their Pilot Series beers. These beers are small production, big beers which usually rate as outstanding brews and in a bunch of cases, age really well. One of their spring Pilot Series beers over the last few years has been their Raspberry Wheat. This beer clocks in at 6.5% ABV and 20 IBU. The beer is not cheap, with a 22 oz. bottle setting you back $9 at your local bottle shop.

From the Alaskan website:

                       

Alaskan Raspberry Wheat is an American-style Wheat Ale with the lively addition of red raspberries during fermentation.

With nearly one pound of real fruit per gallon, Alaskan Raspberry Wheat has the inviting aroma of fresh-picked raspberries and an enticing red hue. The flavor of the raspberries lends a tartness that balances the full-bodied wheat profile and malt sweetness. Bigger than most traditional fruit beers, Alaskan Raspberry Wheat adds an extra kick to its dry and effervescent finish.

The fruit beer style became popular more than 500 years ago with the lambics of Belgium where they brewed with wild yeast and fruit was added to the beer during secondary fermentation. Alaskan Raspberry Wheat follows an American take on this Old World style, highlighting the bright flavors of raspberries.

Years of local demand as a Rough Draft brew and a Silver medal from the 2008 Great American Beer Festival made Alaskan Raspberry Wheat the perfect beer to launch Alaskan’s Pilot Series of limited edition specialty beers.

This limited edition batch of Alaskan Raspberry Wheat is made from glacier fed water, the finest two-row barley, wheat and specialty malts, premium quality European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties, and more than 3,000 pounds of real raspberries.

The tart, sweet flavors and effervescent finish of Alaskan Raspberry Wheat pair best with light foods and desserts including fruit salads, grilled vegetable dishes, light fruit baked goods, crepes, crumbles and warm summer weather.

Berry picking in Alaska can be a busy pastime. With nearly 50 types of wild berry species across the state fruiting throughout the spring, summer and fall, berries have long been a staple in the Alaskan diet. This is also true of the diet of Alaskan black bears. These omnivores load up on rich raspberries and other berries in the late summer before hibernating for the long winters of Alaska. This beer celebrates the natural bounty and fresh flavors of summer in Alaska.

72The beer pours reddish amber in color with an off white head. There are strong notes of raspberry with hints of wheat on the nose. The initial sip yields notes of slightly sweet raspberry before becoming drier with a more subtle raspberry profile complimented with notes of yeast and wheat. The finish is long and raspberry dominant, reminiscent of eating fresh fruit (without the seeds!) with a light tartness that lingers pleasantly. The balance is superb – slightly sweet and slightly tart at various times, with plenty of raspberry character, but not so much that it overpowers the subtle wheat and yeast character that exists in this beer. I wish more fruit based beers showed this balance.

Alaskan Raspberry Wheat picks its way through the bushes with a happy 4 Rubus strigosusout of 5.

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