Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
I really feel like I was a little ahead of the Lagunitas Brewing Company trend.
It was a beer brand I would seek out about a decade ago, knowing the possibility for disappointment was miniscule, however, with today’s oversaturated beer market, the relationship has dissipated as I appreciate a wide variety. So when I grabbed A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale at the beer store, I immediately tried to remember the last time I had sipped this offering, before quickly realizing this ale would taste like new to me.
While I might have dropped off from enjoying Lagunitas’ beer, it had nothing to do with it being sold to Heineken back in 2013, a move that I feel started the uncool trend of craft breweries getting gobbled up by the mass-producing manufacturers. Today, business is booming for the California-based company, despite no longer being considered a craft brewery by the Brewers Association. Heineken is the third largest brewery in the United States and Lagunitas makes up a majority of that, producing just over 900,000 barrels per year – a number that will increase by nearly a million when the company’s third brewery is running on all cylinders. There’s almost no way Tony Magee could’ve imagined this future when he founded Lagunitas, in the town of the same name, back in 1993.
A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is one of 13 beers in Lagunitas’ year-round lineup and perhaps the beer I see most often at the store – well, either that, their India Pale Ale or Maximus Ale. Lagunitas prides itself on Sumpin’ Sumpin’ which it believes is a unique “hoppy pale wheat ale” that might appeal to IPA drinkers like myself as well as drinkers who tend to lean more towards an easily drinkable hefeweizen. At 7.5% alcohol by volume and 64 on the international bitterness units scale, all signs seem to indicate that the brewery is accurate in its description, though if I remember correctly, it flirts more with an IPA taste. Actually, Lagunitas’ description per their website site is definitely worth nothing:
This special ale is something fairly new under the sun. It’s got a lot of wheat, it’s rich with hops, it finishes dry. We’ve watched with some amusement as the internet beer rating sites argues over how to ‘classify’ it. We’re in the camp with Japhy Ryder when he declares to Ray Smith that “Comparisons are odious!” You ever notice how everything has to be today’s version of yesterday’s whatever. Well, whatEver. Sometimes we wonder what the world would be like if everything was perceived for what it is, and not what it reminds you of. The sun would rise everyday as if for the first time, you’d wake as if newly born, you’d see your lover next to you anew, the air would smell like flowers, work would be like the first day back in school, a beer would make your eyes roll back in your head in ecstasy – well, maybe not – but you get the idea.
The actual label of this beer features no explanation of what you’re about to enjoy but, rather, just a simple picture of a woman, kind of in the style of a 1950s pinup.
Once I cracked it open, I went through my typical routine, which starts with a good strong whiff. I noticed an almost fruity scent to this beer, one that definitely included a blended aroma of both the wheat and hops that were involved. Sumpin’ Sumpin’ poured easily, with a medium-body and a bright look that’s golden in color, while the head was significant and bright white, reminiscent of a hefeweizen or a pale ale.
The taste is a little difficult to describe. It’s tastes like a boozy wheat beer with a bite at the end, finishing dry with a slight malt flavor, one that doesn’t linger too much. Calling this Lagunitas beer refreshing is an incredible understatement, as it can be consumed with relative ease. I think the company is right that it’s kind of a hybrid-style beer because I get the wheat but I also get a fairly mild version of an IPA. It’s great for sitting outback in front of nice bonfire, especially because it goes down easy. And it’s not too pricey, with a six-pack running between $11 and $12. A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ has a 4.2 rating on BeerAdvocate and I would say that’s spot on, as I give this beer a 8.6 out of 10.
Stay tuned for next week, because I might just try something from your favorite brewery.