Living in California I have access to my fair share of amazing brews but that doesn’t stop me from greedily yearning for beers brewed outside my little corner of the country. In my formative craft beer years the words; Founders, Bells or 3 Floyds always had a mythical ring to it. The unattainable fruit from a far away land. Fast forward several years1 and I still get excited when I get the chance to try a new beer from any of these infamous breweries.

Any day I get to try a new beer for the first time is a good day. When that new beer is one that I have had on my list of wants for years, it is a great day. If you were to look at my proverbial list of wanted beers you would find a common theme amongst them.

3 Floyds Gumballhead bottle

Most of them are ridiculously complicated barrel aged this or sour that, with the majority being nearly impossible to obtain. This week’s review is straight from that list of long wanted beers from a far away land. But it differs from the others on that list. It is a simple pale wheat ale that is available year round on shelves throughout the Midwest. Gumballhead from 3 Floyds Brewing Co. has been a long time want of mine and my childlike excitement is obvious as I crack open the bottle.

The beer pours a crystal clear bright gold with one finger of fluffy white head that dissipates fairly quickly. The aroma is fairly faint and not nearly as pronounced as I had expected. A subtle fruity note that is reminiscent of peaches, lemons and generic citrus make up the bulk of the aroma. The wheat comes through a bit but if I didn’t already know it was a wheat beer I might not have picked it out so quickly. This particular bottle is roughly three months old so I am assuming the hops would have been a bit more prominent in a fresh bottle.2

3 Floyds Gumballhead

Due to years of drinking big hoppy west coast beers my sense of what constitute a hoppy beer is a bit skewed. This beer is no where near the hop bombs I normally ingest, but the hops are balanced with the wheat just enough to let both play there part. The fruit notes from the Amarillo hops are there along with a pleasant floral character and a clean crisp finish. The wheat is much more noticeable once I taste the beer and it lingers into the finish along with a noticeable bitterness. All together it is a wonderfully refreshing wheat beer with a well balanced hop profile.


3 Floyds Gumballhead
BREWERY: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Munster, Ind.
STYLE: Americal pale wheat ale
ABV: 5.6 percent
IBU: 35
PRICE: $2.33
RELEASE DATE: 2003 (Bottled Jan. 19, 2015)
AVAILABLE IN: 12-ounce bottles
Most of the time when I have a beer on my want list for years it tends to build unrealistic expectations that are impossible for any mortal beer to live up to. That was exactly the case with Gumballhead. It is a great hoppy wheat beer but was not the transcendent experience I had built it up to be in my mind over the past several years. If it were available on shelf at my local bottle shop I would gladly pick up a six-pack but, now that I have checked Gumballhead off of the list I will not be trading for any additional bottles anytime soon. Hopefully I will get the chance to sample a fresh pour on tap the next time I make it to the Midwest.
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