Aroma: Rapunzel has let really her hair down here (this pun doesn’t even work that well in this instance, but I wanted to get it out of the way early). The aroma is pretty notable with very forward wheat character, balanced nice and tall with citrus and tropical fruit from the Michigan-grown hops.
The aroma is fantastically on par with many of the wheat IPAs out there, and I’ll be the first to say that the style isn’t used nearly often enough. The plush malt character provided by wheat generally works really well with American hop bitterness in a moderately dry beer.
Appearance: Just as one should suspect, this beer pours with a bright white and rather dense foam atop a distinctively golden ale. I presume this is where the name of the beer comes from, and I’ll give it to them — it’s quite golden. (I may have spent a solid minute or two just watching the bubbles travel through the ever-so-slightly hazy beverage.)
Taste: The Michigan-grown hops are surprisingly subtle in bitterness and flavor. Although still quite forward, it’s a bit refreshing to get an IPA that has a truly careful balance of IBUs to its slightly malty body. The domestic wheat character is pretty forward on the tongue, but still leaves the body a bit on the lighter side.
Mouthfeel: This is where the wheat really shines. Because of the way the proteins in wheat are developed during the mash (or steeping of the grains to convert starches into fermentable sugars), the final product ends up with a distinctive creaminess. Proteins have certain stickiness, and it just so happens that wheat provides an especially high number of these.
When the final, carbonated product has this elevated elasticity, the bubbles rise to the top of the beer and stay there much longer than they would in a liquid that is not so sticky.
Hopefully, you’re wondering how this relates to mouthfeel, and this is the exciting part. When we pull this tasty libation into our mouths, the liquefied and dissolved carbon dioxide (carbonation) is agitated, and exits the solution as a gas, creating — you guessed it — foam.
What many of us don’t realize is that the foam builds up in our mouths, but not in the same way that drinking off the top of a poorly served beverage does.
In this case, the foam is more adequately mixed with the liquid and ultra dense, which provides a sensation similar to sipping on a properly steamed latte or hot chocolate. Wheat has an incredibly long history in beer, dating back to when people thought beer was fermented by spiritual activity, and even then they understood the importance of wheat in our ales and lagers.