Bell’s Brewery started as a small homebrewing supply store in 1983 by Larry Bell in Kalamazoo, Mich. Since then it has grown to produce over 300,000 barrels of beer a year with distribution to 23states. It is still expanding operations recently adding a wastewater treatment plant and a sister brewery in the Upper Peninsula, Upper Hand Brewing.
Bell’s summer wheat ale is Oberon. This beer has a huge following and people have begun referring to the annual release day as Oberon Day. Some trivia for you geeks out there; Oberon was originally called Solsun but when Larry Bell filed for copyright protection, to prevent college kids from using the logo on shirts, he was sued by a Mexican brewery and forced to change the name. The name Oberon comes from the character in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in which he gives a potion to his wife to make her fall in love him.
From a 12-ounce can and into an IPA glass, Oberon exhibits an appearance similar to Minute Maid orange juice. The head is pure white and minimal in stature. Aroma is sweet wheat bread at first hit backing up to notes of citrus, sunflower seeds, and cheap Gouda coated in red wax. This is one of the better smelling wheat beers out there. I find most wheat beers to be a bit one-dimensional in the aroma department.
The wheat is very apparent in the flavor coming across as Triscuits and is complimented by an agreeable peppery bitterness. The bitterness does sit around on the back of the tongue for an extended period after the beer has left for the gullet. Alcohol heat is also showing up which is odd for a 5.8 percent beer. The mouthfeel is creamy and heavy bordering on syrupy. I imagine Bell’s was going for an easy drinking beer and they came relatively close.