So, for some reason, Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo Michigan has become a popular microbrewery for beer writers to talk up their seasonal releases, especially here in the DC area. Everybody went gaga when their Hopslam (Double IPA) came out in January, even at $16 a six-pack, and now everyone is atwitter with their Oberon Summer Ale, slightly more resonable at $9 for a sixer.
Personally, I don't see it, or taste it. It's certainly drinkable (inside baseball!), but at craft-beer prices, there's a lot more out there that is way better.
I guess for me it comes down to the malt character: it's not there. Maybe the brewmaster's wife ran off with a grain farmer, but in both of their offerings I have bought into the hype for, there is almost none of that bready, toasty, cookie flavor I hold so dear.
Now with the Hopslam, you expect the hops to be agressive, but the only sweetness seems comes from the honey they add. And with the Oberon, the yeast is actually the dominant character: peppery and clove-y. Why bother calling it a wheat beer when you can't taste the wheat at all?
So, when the beer writers in the area treat the next offering from Bell's as the Second Coming, don't buy it or the hype. Let someone else buy it for you.