The Beer: Wet Beaver Wit
The Brewery: Arizona Wilderness, Gilbert
The Stats: 6.3% ABV
The Story: When you've been in the beer industry for a good portion of your life, nothing seems all that surprising. Then one day you order a beer, if for no other reason than the conversation-starting name. You expect to find a traditional light-colored, cloudy wheat beer — but at Arizona Wilderness, "traditional" tends to take a back seat to "creative" and "unique," which is certainly the case with the Gilbert brewery's Wet Beaver Wit.
According to the brewery website, the beer is "a farmhouse saison with coriander and soft earthy tones." It goes on to explain that "citrus-driven dry hops balance the rustic nature of the local beets from Steadfast Farm at Agritopia."
It doesn't, however, mention the brew's bright red hue, which can be pretty surprising even to this experienced aficionado. Besides the traditional addition of coriander, local beets give the beer a bright red color. And despite the color's radiance, its foam stand remains pure white, creating a stark contrast of colors.
The beer pours clear and offers wheat bread aroma; yeast derived spice; fruity esters; sugar aromas reminiscent of rock candy; along with the scent of coriander. In flavor, a pleasant yeast-derived tartness is apparent, which the brewery refers to as the "farmhouse character." The character blends very well with the sweetness from the malts and low-level warming alcohols. The beets don't add much in the way of flavor and nothing to the aroma, but they've certainly done their job affecting the appearance.
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It should be noted that though the beer has a "farmhouse funk" character, it's subtle and reserved, adding complexity without distraction — don't think "sour" when you hear the word "farmhouse," because these are two different concepts.
Wet Beaver Wit is an interesting beer on appearance alone, but it backs it up the visual shock with a complex flavor profile. It's also true to the wit style despite the very nontraditional color and use of beets — which is what Arizona Wilderness is all about, recreating traditional styles while stamping their own signature on them.
The medium-full body and medium-high carbonation provide a creamy essence, almost dessert-like, with no hint of astringency. And even at 6.3% ABV, the beer's an easy drinker and thirst-quenching.
Check out the Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company website for more information.