Mar 15, 2013

SweetWater 16 So Fine Red Wheat Wine Ale

I know that anniversary releases can be silly at times, but ultimately, that’s what I love about them. It’s an opportunity for a brewery to have a little fun and celebrate another (hopefully successful) year in business. Many times, these types of limited releases are over-the-top interpretations of a specific style or a ludicrous blend of genres. What we have here with Sweetwater’s 16 So Fine Red Wheat Wine is a brew that fills the first category — a big, boozy and hoppy take on a wheat wine.

So Fine is a beer that boasts a good amount of red wheat character — as it should based on the style — but it’s alos got a potent blend of Amarillo, Willamette, Nelson Sauvin, and US Goldings hop varieties that takes it to a whole new level. It’s not an overly-hopped experience, but it does back a nice punch.


The brew pours a copperish amber in color with a light tan head that fell slowly to a full ring and patching surface cover.


The hop character wasn’t as strong as I was expecting but there is a welcome bit of pine and citrus to the solid helping of wheat, grains, caramel and sweetness.


Well the first thing you notice is that this is no small beer. At 11% ABV it leaves an expected warmth glowing in the chest after the first sip. And secondly, despite that warmth, this beer is exceptionally smooth for the alcohol content. A dominant wheat character and moderate-to-high level of malt sweetness lead the way as a decent amount of hop character (grassy and piney with a light citrus note) comes through toward the finish. The brew has a welcome amount of hop bitterness that tempers the sweetness well as hints of caramel and a light toast play in the mix, as well. The finish is slightly drying with a large amount of warmth in the chest, but not so much that I would describe the beer as having any heat.


This is a solid brew. It’s not the most refined (or best) wheat wine that I’ve had, but I certainly love the added emphasis on the hop character that it brings to the table. With the higher level on alcohol and the wheat/malt base, I’d bet that the brew will mellow nicely with after being set down for a little while. When all is said and done, it will most certainly be a Sweet 16 for Sweetwater Brewing.

Rating: 4/5

This is a review of a promotional sample from the brewery.

More: ,