What to Drink This Week: Muskoka Brewery Summer Weiss
Did you know that every month has Ides associated with them, not just March? And that while in February they’re associated with Valentine’s Day, which is a loving and indulgent occasion, in March they’re associated with murder? That says something, I think.
In two weeks, it will be Labor Day. The kids will be going back to school, football will be starting, the lawn will be flush with its last solid wave of dandelions, and a carpet of steel gray clouds will become an increasingly frequent sight in the skies above us. There will, perhaps, be a BBQ that will involve a great deal of meat, and hopefully at least a few cases of beer. You will be celebrating the last of this hot, hot summer, which featured many terrible events but at least was unlike last summer, which also featured many terrible events but had the gall to rain on us so much.
Whatever you may feel about the beginning of autumn — and I personally love it, because sweating through my clothes while I walk to the train is kind of bullshit — it’s always a bit sad to bid farewell to another summer. To feel the evenings get a little cooler, see the odd change in the color of the late afternoon sunlight, watch the sorrowful expressions cross the faces of friends of yours in the teaching profession… the sense that a happier time is getting away from us is hard to avoid. It forces you to really reflect on how productively you’ve spent your time, and whether it was worth spending that entire afternoon watching your PVRed backlog of Toddlers and Tiaras while slowly absorbing a liter and a half of white table wine, when you could’ve been, I don’t know, farming the earth with your bare hands or something.
Put more succinctly, the middle of August is terrible. But we are not without our means of denial, people.
Here in Canada, wheat beers have become an increasingly popular defense against the heat of the summer. While it’s possible that you will have to withstand the chuckles of crusty old patrons at your local pub, delightedly scornful at your proclivity for drinking alcohol that may have fruit in it, uptake is generally wide enough that you can enjoy it with impunity.
(Fun fast story: My favorite reply from someone enduring such crotchety abuse from an entire table of people — women and men both — was when he shot back, “Yeah, you’re right, I guess an orange in my beer is pretty gay… so hey, buddy! How are you enjoying your white wine?“ I have never wanted to high-five a stranger more than in that moment.)
If you’ve never tried one, you’re missing out. Weiss (or “white”) beer is the product of a brewing process that combines a high proportion of wheat to barley as it ferments. This produces is a pale (thus, white) and usually cloudy beer that feels very smooth in the mouth and tends to hold its head a lot longer. While it adds a lot to the texture and color of the beer, the wheat itself doesn’t have a huge impact on the flavor of the beer, thus making it a convenient platform for lots of creative flavoring touches — most frequently citrus, but sometimes with hints of coriander or other spices.
The result is a beer that’s easy to drink, even to newcomers, with an easy finish but still a good amount of flavor. And when you find a really good one, you’re quickly overcome with the urge to hoard it like a miser. Such is the case with Muskoka Brewery’s Summer Weiss:
Muskoka Brewery has produced a delicious seasonal weiss beer, sold in three-quarter liter bottles for just under six-fifty. It’s a bold move, considering how many less-expensive German options are available (not to mention the ubiquitous Rickard’s White), but well worth it.
First of all: Oh, the bottle! Oh, how I am a complete sucker for high-quality packaging like this. The rubber flip-top! The long-necked wine design, contrasted against the brown glass! The happy sun-dial label, who is not at all shy about declaring the pretensions of a “vintage”! Awwwww!
But then, you guys: Oh, the beer! So pleasantly-but-not-overwhelmingly spicy to the nose! Oh, how happily foamy but not excessively fizzy! The color is nutty and golden, which sets a nice anticipation for the flavor, which is smooth and full. There is citrus too, but balanced with a nice sweetness and a vanilla flavor that rounds the drink out wonderfully.
So lovely, so creamy, this is a perfect example of what a great wheat beer can do to fend off the impending depressingness of the autumn. I realize that this particular boutique Ontario beer is likely not your first option to exploit, but if it is anywhere within reach then you ought to snap it up greedily, as though it is a potion that will make you — at least temporarily — believe it’s actually the first week of July.
And if not, there are so many other wheat beers out there to enjoy. Find yours, chill it to perfection, and enjoy as much as you can. The more you can savor the sunny sweetness, the longer you can make the summer last.