Monday, August 2, 2010

Bottled Michigan: Short's Nicie Spicie Wheat Ale

Clearly, I do not have a problem with experimental ales or experimental breweries. I've had beer that tasted like a band aid, like pop tarts, like rotten apples, and like sour milk. There's some flavors that just don't sit on my tongue. . .and there's some flavors that sound like they should never be put into an ale but end up being absolutely fantastic.

Put your hands together for Short's Nicie Spicie; a wheat ale flavored with black peppercorn.

That's a brig on my mug.

Prediction: half of the people reading this are probably thinking that black peppercorns are a terrible way to flavor a beer. Wheat ales are light, fruity, sensible beverages, often heavy on the citrus. If they have spice at all, it's fun little spices that prance around like wood elves: coriander, clove, cinnamon. No one puts heavy tastes like black pepper in a beer like that; black pepper goes into mashed potatoes and on top of a rare cut of filet mignon. Cmon, Short's brewing; stop being that guy.

In truth, this is by far the best ale I have had to pair with red meat in recent memory. It's the best compliment to a summer steak pulled off the grill.  The pour is light and effervescent, with a manageable white head that dissipates quickly. The color is that of sunshine on a hot summer day; hazy and golden with a tinge of orange. The beer is more carbonated than many of its wheat ale brethren, and long lines of bubbles dance from the bottom to the top of the glass.

The smell is deceptive; every flavor I expected in a typical wheat beer showed themselves immediately: a strong citrus, a pleasant but understated malty sweetness, and the wheat gave it the predictable and pleasant bready smell. The only spice I was able to discern immediately was that of coriander, something I was expecting. The only thing that set this ale apart from other wheat beers was a dry herbal scent lingering in the background.

Take a taste, though, and exhale. The beer is sweet/spicy at first, delivering on the aroma's promises. It's light and refreshing, owed in part to the extra carbonation and in part to the orange, lemon, and coriander that lead the flavor. But there's meat to this beer. It finishes with a punch of black pepper that cleanses the palate and balances the sweetness perfectly. The robust punch isn't overwhelming; instead it makes the flavors of the beer mix with flavors of food much more easily. I would drink this beer with anything pulled off the grill.

Short's, this more than makes up for your Smoked Apple Lager. Thanks for this one.


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