Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lagunitas - Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Review

Brewery: Lagunitas (CA)
Style: American Pale Wheat Ale

ABV: 7.5%
Grade: B+

A few years ago, not long after I first got into beer, I was particularly into German beers (everyone goes through that phase, right?) My German Beer Phase was pretty limited to wheat beers — not that there are many styles to choose from in the German beer scene. I drank a lot of hefeweizens in that year, and then all of a sudden, the style just wasn't for me anymore. Wheat beers are sweet, and I can no longer tolerate overly-sweet beers without some kind of other tasty reward. Now, feisty Americans — with our intense love of hops — have created an offshoot of wheat beers called "American pale wheat ale," a hybrid of pale ales and wheat beers. But what we have here isn't just a hoppier hefeweizen. Little Sumpin' Sumpin' is a full-on wheat IPA blasted with west-coast hops. So while it's not going to make me like wheat beers again, this is an extremely good beer.

At first sip, Little Sumpin' Sumpin' almost hits the flavor profile of an Imperial IPA. Imperial IPA's tend to be much sweeter and richer than regular IPAs, and this is along those lines, thanks to the wheat, I think. Sumpin' Sumpin' is fairly sweet, with very little initial bitterness. There's nothing harsh here at all, so, incidentally, it would be a good gateway for getting someone into IPAs. The hops all come in on the backend, accented by the sweet juiciness of the wheat. Some of the sharp grapefruit citrus flavors are cut down a bit by that sweetness, which is actually nice, here. What's left is just a nice hoppy fruitiness that dissolves into a lingering rich aftertaste.

It's a pretty neat trick to make me enjoy a beer this sweet, but Little Sumpin' Sumpin' is delicious. Not many breweries will likely make a wheat beer as hoppy as this, a beer that's so far off style, so close to just an Imperial IPA, but this bit of experimentation makes for an interesting, unique experience. Bring this to just about any party and I bet you'll please pretty much everyone.

Availability: Year-round, in sixpacks. Pretty easy to find, as it's one of Lagunitas' main beers and they have widespread distribution.

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