Sustainability, recycling and conservation is a big part of the craft beer culture and one of the many reasons I love the craft beer industry. Beer making is generally a pretty resource intensive process when you factor in everything needed to produce beer on a commercial level. To produce a gallon of beer it takes an average of 5 gallons1 of water. Extrapolate that to the over 50 million gallons of beer produced in Oregon alone last year2 and you get an idea of how much water is used in beer production.
Full Sail Brewing in Hood River, Ore. is doing its part to reduce that massive number of gallons used in beer production. By reusing the water throughout multiple steps in the process and using a specially-designed Meura mash filter they have reduced their usage to 2.5 gallons of water to produce each gallon of beer. Full Sail took one step further and installed their own waste water treatment system to treat all of its own waste water before it leaves the brewery.
Full Sail has been brewing beer for over 25 years and they continue to push the envelope of conservation and sustainability. To celebrate its 25 years in business the brewery produced a 25th anniversary wheat wine that uses 100 percent wheat malt. The beer clocks in at 9.5 percent ABV and was released in late 2014. It is a beer that I have yet had the pleasure of trying, but I am lucky enough to have a bottle in front of me and an empty glass.
As I pour the beer the first thing I notice is how clear the beer is. Generally wheat beers are cloudy, but this one pours a beautiful crystal clear bright orange. A heavy pour gives roughly one finger of bright white head that dissipates after a couple of minutes. The beer does not have an overwhelming bouquet and I have to bury my nose in the glass repeatedly in order to pick out the different aromas. Generally when I think of wheat beers the spicy yeast esters come to mind from a classic hefeweizen but this beer is obviously lacking all of those qualities. It has a rich honey/caramel like sweetness and a touch of grape skin like aroma as well. The hop aromas have either faded or are just muted to the point where they are barely noticeable. Again, nothing really jumps out of the glass.
Like the bouquet the taste is also lacking anything that really stands out other than the wheat itself. The beer has an enjoyable sweetness throughout the sip along with some honey, a slight fruitiness, biscuits and grainy cereal. The alcohol is well hidden and only appears slightly in the finish. There is also a touch of bitterness in the finish which distracts from the rest of the flavors. The lingering sweetness and the bitterness stick around for a while after each sip.