Bell’s – Oberon

Tasting: July 24, 2011
Style: Wheat Ale

The hottest day on record ever in New Jersey was registered on Friday in Newark at 108 degrees. We are truly in the dog days of summer. So, here’s yet another attempt to find the best summer ale. This time it’s the contender from Bell’s Brewing of Michigan. It’s a wheat ale, so I’ll expect the same cliche summer ale — not sweet, not bitter with a somewhat crisp finish. Somehow, it makes me think that summer ales are refreshing because they are devoid of ingredients and watery. But, hey I’m not going to rush to judgment.

Oberon is the king of the fairies from medieval literature – most notably from Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream. That would be the summer connection — the label also makes reference to the the appearance and aroma matching that of a midsummer’s day. It also mentions 5.8% ABV.

The pour is a pale and cloudy straw with nice bright white head. Looks very carbonated and fizzy. I’m not sure if I’d connect the aroma to what’s in the air around my house today, but it’s earthy, and slightly sweet under the smell of bread dough. The flavor is as expected — grainy/bread, but there’s an underlying fruit sweetness. Kind of reminds me of a sweet pepper or even a papaya. I’ll call my tastings of summer beers over and done for this season. This one has to be one of the better ones I’ve had…86 points. Here’s how my summer beers stack up.

1. Bell’s Oberon – 86 points
2. Sierra Nevada Summerfest – 86 points
3. Troegs Sunshine Pils – 86 points
4. Anchor Summer – 82 points
5. Cricket Hill Summer Jersey Breakfast – 76 points
6. Riverhorse Summer Blonde – 76 points
7. Flying Fish Summer Farmhouse – 73 points
8. Breckenridge Summer Bright – 68 points
9. Lancaster Strawberry Wheat – 65 points
10. Caledonian – Newcastle Summer Ale – 62 points
11. Thomas Hooker – Waltermelon Ale 59 points

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