Friday, April 3, 2009

Bell's Oberon and the Problem of Hype

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.



  1. While it was very peppery and clove-y, as you say, I enjoyed it- but it certainly wasn't all it's hyped up to be. I love wheat beers, but this was just a bit too bitter, and as you say, overpowering the typical wheat flavor. An enjoyable sipping beer, but I won't buy it again.

  2. The comment boards are on fire!

  3. Did you drink it with an orange slice in the bottle? I'm pretty sure you're supposed to do that.

    Also, I don't think that Oberon is being hyped as "the Second Coming," but then I don't follow beer writing other than this blog. As a native of West Michigan, I know that Oberon has, for years, has always been celebrated as the beginning of the spring/summer outdoor eating and drinking season.

    Was Oberon maybe one of the first microbrewed seasonal beers?

  4. Did not try the orange slice, maybe this evening. But the orange still won't bring out more of the wheatiness that I like.

    And as simply a sign of warmer weather, I welcome it with open arms.

  5. If you need an orange slice, then you know the beer sucks! Thats just an innovation to get Americans who think miller light is "beer" to drink other beer.....

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  7. I will admit that I occasionally enjoy an orange slice in an Allagash White, or a lemon wedge with a honey wheat, but they aren't requirements by any means.