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Beer Reviews

Oberon Ale

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Bell’s Brewery, Inc.
Galesburg, MI

Style: American Wheat
ABV: 6.0%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

Pair With:
• Halibut
• Salads
• Salmon
Can an American wheat actually be considered one of the best beers in the world? Obviously, there’s much, much more to a beer than a name, but Larry Bell sets the tone with his best-selling beer’s moniker: Oberon was the king of the elves in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the beer’s label is a medieval-style sun god grinning benevolently as he bestows summer’s warmth over his kingdom. The packaging copy says this beer is “the color and scent of a summer afternoon” and I’ll be goddamned if ol’ Larry doesn’t speak true. And we’re not talking about one of those muggy August days we get here in the Midwest, but those breezy afternoons in June when summer’s still young and full of promise. You know, before your baseball team gets eliminated from the playoffs, you get one of those nasty-ass sunburns that makes you do a snake-like, full-body peel, mosquitos eat you alive, and you get either hypothermia or E. coli from swimming in one of the Great Lakes.

So, unlike Midwest summers, from beginning to end, this beer is gorgeous. It pours super cloudy, with the yeast slowly drifting down from the top to create a beautiful gradient of light amber at the top to a vibrant gold at the bottom. The elf king’s crown is just as impressive: massive, rocky head, snow white, marred by a tiny stain from the last of the bottle’s yeast. Immediately you’re hit with the strong citrus and coriander emanating off the head. A closer sniff reveals very subtle banana/cloves notes, a nod to the style’s Bavarian cousin.

The mouthfeel and body is decidedly toward the center of the dial, which is actually pretty big for an American wheat, but it doesn’t hamper Oberon’s drinkability one whit. And what a taste: yeasty orange zest up front, a middle that’s as bright and citrusy as a mimosa (not that I’d ever drink such a concoction), and an end highlighted by a tiny hop profile etched distinctly around the edges.

Equal parts complex and inviting, Bell’s Oberon is undoubtedly one of the best—if not the best—American wheats in the world. The brewer’s craft at its best.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on June 14, 2007.
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