Wheat is the New Hops: A Grassroots/Mikkeller Collaboration

This collab has been around for a while but I keep coming back to it because it’s just so darn succulent.  Witness: It was gone before I could take a photo of it in the glass:

Both delicious.

Both delicious.

Shaun Hill, the philosophizer genius behind Hill Farmstead – recently profiled in the New York Times – works as Grassroots when he’s in collaboration mode; this beer is a partnership with Mikkeller, one half of the infamous/acrimonious pair of genius Danish brewers also recently profiled in the New York Times.  Wheat is the New Hops is their effort to meld an IPA with a sour bent, and it’s superb on every level.

As a sort of taste-off, we opened the regular garden-variety version (the 12 oz bottle on the right) and had that first, then tried the Chardonnay barrel aged version (350ml bottle on the left) to compare and contrast.

The Chardonnay lent a Champagne-like effervesce to the original recipe, which has fairly tight carbonation to begin with.  The finish of the former was similar to Nelson Sauvin Brut, Mikkeller’s finest creation (in my opinion).  It was so effervescent, though, that it nearly overwhelmed the delicate balance of the hops and the brett.  The flavors were buried deeper in the foam.  And the flavors of the original are blended with such subtlety that, in the aged version, the effect was like tuning into a great radio station with lots of static.  But sometimes those are nice to dance to.

If you come across either of these, do not hesitate.  They’ll age great in your cellar too, if you can exercise restraint.

[As an interesting side note, the Chardonnay barrel aged bottle was picked up at DeCicco’s grocery in Armonk, NY, about an hour and a half north of the city.  DeCicco’s is better known as the place that convinced Jeppe from Evil Twin to brew a special “DeCicco’s Version” of Jeppe’s famed Biscotti Break series specially for the store.  This delicious version is flavored with chili and hazelnuts, and you should buy loads of it if you ever find yourself way up there.  Jeppe is a great brewer, and he also happens to be…*drumroll*…the brother of Mikkel, who created Wheat is the New Hops.  The beer scene is truly a tangled web of intrigue.]

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