Today, instead of a beer I purchased, I have a beer that sent to me. Shock Top Wheat IPA sounds interesting, and I am more than willing to review it. According to the bottle, this is an Unfiltered IPA brewed with wheat, citrus peels, and coriander. It does not sound like a combination I would try, but it does sound interesting. I will be judging this in Category 23, specialty category with a base style of American IPA. I came to this decision because of the description. First it says it’s an unfiltered IPA which is why I chose that as the base. Since it is brewed with wheat, citrus peels, and coriander, it is part Belgian Wit as well. I am thinking since they encourage you to swirl the yeast and pout it into your glass, it is also part Bavarian Hefeweizen as well. First and foremost it needs to be an IPA, with the secondary and background characteristics being the wheat and spiced beers. That is what we are going to be looking at for this particular beer. With that said, let’s get this under way.
Aroma: For an IPA, the aroma is lacking. While I do get some floral and slightly piney hop aroma, there really is not enough to be considered a solid IPA in my opinion. That’s not to say the beer is not without some positive vibes in the aroma. The grains come though to be interesting. The wheat is very evident and dominates the aroma, it almost smells like a fresh wheat field. The hops and slightly sweet citrus notes take a backseat supporting role. It is a good smelling beer, I like it. But it is lacking the IPA portion of the aroma. If you put up front that it is an IPA, it needs to have a “prominent to intense hop aroma”. The hop aroma is moderate at best. The coriander does come through nicely as the beer warms up. It misses the mark big time though for IPA quality aroma. (5 points)
Appearance: For a wheat beer, the color is as you would expect, especially if you swirl and add the yeast. The color is strikingly beautiful. It is a deep hazy gold color and will make you want to drink it. It poured a very nice head that disappeared fairly quickly. It did leave a nice thin layer on top. (3 points)
Flavor: The flavor is interesting and complex. There are several layers (as you could expect from this array of ingredients). For an IPA, again the hop character is lacking.The hops seem to be of the orange and mostly grapefruit variety (your classic American “C” hops). The flavor could be coming from citrus peels as well, and who knows, maybe they called it citrus peels instead of orange peel because maybe they used orange and grapefruit peels to compliment the hops. Either way, the hop flavor is moderate and the bitterness is also in that medium range. The coriander does come through nicely in the middle. For me, the star of this show is the malt. There is a hint of sourdough bread, with a classic grainy wheat flavor you seek in a hefeweizen or other classic German wheat beer. There is a bit of sweetness, so I would bet there is a touch of caramel malt in the mix as well. The flavor is nice, just not near the IPA level. I do admit on a personal level that I like the beer. But calling it an IPA was a huge mistake. It is barely at the pale ale level for hop character, regardless of how well the flavors dance around in your mouth. (10 points)
Mouthfeel: The beer is solidly in the medium mouthfeel range and slightly creamy. It is well carbonated and is brewed very well. No astringency. (4 points)
Overall: First and foremost it is actually a tasty beer. With that said, it is too far out of style to even be called an IPA. It is even at the low end for a Pale Ale. If you compare this beer to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is at the high end of the Pale Ale Spectrum, you will notice the obvious difference in hop intensity. A true IPA should be even more hoppy than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The beer is not without some redeeming qualities though. The malt profile is interesting and I enjoy it. The spices are fairly subtle and take on the supporting role quite nicely. It’s easy drinking, and flavorful. But the misrepresentation of the IPA style is a bit annoying. While for the casual drinker, there may not be much to notice when you see IPA, until you decide you like this beer and make the connection with the IPA style. Then you head to the store to buy another IPA and find that beer to be way too intense, or worse yet they go telling people the love IPA and end up getting their hands on a Green Flash IPA and are either embarrassed that it was nothing what they expected, or decided that Green Flash IPA sucks. While this is a very tasty beer, and I enjoyed it. It’s a decent slightly hoppy wheat beer, it is not an IPA. (4 points)
Overall score: I gave this beer a 26, which still makes it a good beer. If you take a look at the lower left corner of a score sheet, you will see that a 26 is still a good beer, but “misses the mark on style and/or has minor flaws” which is the case with this beer missing the mark on calling itself an IPA.