My old roommate used to bring Long Trail’s Blackbeary Wheat back to Syracuse after going home to Vermont for breaks. It was always something to look forward to and was a nice beer to help change the season from dreary and cold to sunny and warm. I really liked it, but it did have a novelty to it because we could only get it after breaks. I was anxious to give it a go many years removed from the original tasting, so I picked up a six-pack last weekend. While not outstanding nor terrible, Blackbeary Wheat is a very respectable fruit beer.
Upon pouring into a glass, you first notice two things: the aroma and color. The first thing that strikes you is the bouquet. It’s not overwhelmingly sweet as to turn you off, but enough to make you thirsty. Dark berry notes are less intense than lighter ones, and thus more inviting. The second thing is the extremely light, completely clear color, which is as light as an American light beer (the head is also reminiscent). Above the curiously light color, though, the aroma is what grabs you most. Upon drinking, you’re met with a remarkably light mouthfeel that feels like you’re drinking a light beer. The weight, or lack thereof, is consistent through the finish and crisp the whole way. The blackberry flavor meets you immediately and offers a different type of fruit not commonly found in fruit beers. It’s very nice and has a subdued sweetness compared to other berry mixtures that are more common. The fruit sweetness starts lighter and builds slightly as the sip progresses, reaching it’s peak at the finish, although it’s not too high of a summit. The end of the sip has just a bit more sweetness than the rest of the sip, and the fruit flavor finishes off nicely without much aftertaste.
While not an outstanding beer, Blackbeary Wheat is one of my top choices for fruit beers. One reason I prefer Blackbeary Wheat to others is that it’s a beer first and the fruit comes second. Far too often fruit beers hit you too hard with sweetness, leaving you with a beer that tastes like it’s half juice-half beer. In this case, the beer is a vehicle for the fruit, not the reverse. Another quality this beer boasts is the sweetness doesn’t accumulate to the point that it makes you full. Because it’s so light and the sweetness isn’t overpowering, you’re not left with a strong aftertaste that will turn you off to having another. It’s also very refreshing, and with 4.0% ABV, is very sessionable (although I dislike the term). Compared with other American fruit styles, Blackbeary Wheat more closely resembles a lambic, the Belgian farmhouse style. Despite it’s attributes, for a wheat beer it’s not very wheat-like. There’s no cloudiness or creaminess to it, and a little extra from the wheat would fill this beer out nicely.
If you really like fruit beers, or are still searching for the right one, you’ll like Blackbeary Wheat.