Monday, July 1, 2013

Three Floyds - Gumballhead Pale Wheat Ale Review

Brewery: Three Floyds (IN)
Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.6%
Grade: A-

What we have here, my friends, is potentially the ultimate gateway beer. If Three Floyd's Gumballhead were distributed everywhere in American, with a few dollars of marketing power behind it, it could be the gateway beer. Sixpacks of this stuff should be flying off the shelves by the thousands. It is an amazing summer beer, and an amazing beer in general.

But in this crazy topsy-turvy world we live in, Three Floyds is a small cult brewery that distributes in only two states, and actually, that's fine too. Any brewer of hoppy beers is at its best when it's not stretched too thin, and sitting on some lonely bodega shelf is most definitely not the way to make a best impression. Gumballhead isn't intensely hoppy in the way that even a great, but mellow IPA is, and it's definitely not very bitter, yet the clarity of its hoppiness is critical to its success — if that makes sense.

As a pale wheat ale, the flavor rests upon a delectably-creamy base of red wheat malt, and the nose emits a hazy, grassy character that — accompanied by the bubblegum fruitiness of Amarillo hops — just screams summer. It's kind of remarkable how much Gumballhead evokes bubblegum, as the name coyly implies. It's not that there's any of that bubblegummy Belgian yeast character — in fact, I think this was fermented with a neutral American ale yeast — but the combination of creamy wheat malts and sweet peachy Amarillo hops somehow exude a wistful, chewy candy character. (When I asked my friend to describe the flavor, she said it was "bouncy." Weirdly, I think I know what she means).

If any beer could ever be described as nostalgic, even when you didn't grow up with it, it's Gumballhead. It's a beer that just seems like it should define your summer. Compared to all the blandly-sweet, tepidly-yeasty summer ales competing for attention out there, this is a brilliant ray of peachy sunshine. Bring a case of Gumballhead to a summer BBQ and it will be gone faster than you can count to Three Floyds.

Availability: 12 ounce bottles, year round. Sadly small distribution area.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was great, too... more drinkable than A Little Sumpin' Sumpin', so definitely more approachable.

    Thanks again for the bottle!


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