Brewery: Anheuser-Busch, Inc. | Beer: Bud Light Golden Wheat
Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer | ABV: 4.1% | IBUs: ~5
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into Weizen glass
Brewing goliath Anheuser-Busch has recently started adding line extensions to it's core brands—Budweiser and Bud Light. Compared to the old model of setting up faux-microbrew brands, the new practice of expanding the company's existing brands really ends up as a win-win. There's no perception of shenanigans for beer geeks, and the Budweiser/Bud Light customer base is probably more likely to venture out to try news styles when they are offered by brands they are familiar with.
The first of such extensions, Bud Light Lime and Budweiser American Ale, have worked out quite well for the mega-brewer and they're eager to keep expanding. Pitched as "one of the most highly anticipated new product launches of 2009," Bud Light Golden Wheat is the second line extension for the Bud Light brand (not counting the god-awful Cheladas).
While wheat-themed brews are usually ales, this is (from what I can tell, at least) a lager-based excursion. It seems that the brewers were shooting for something resembling a Witbier/Light Lager hybrid, as the beer is brewed with coriander and citrus peel. Since Witbier/Light Lager is not a recognized style, I've gone ahead and listed it as a Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer, as that seems to be the closest match listed in the BJCP style guidelines (BeerAdvocate agrees with me).
According to Bud Light brand manager Bruce Eames:
Bud Light Golden Wheat has all the personality of Bud Light and appeals to light beer drinkers who seek a little more flavor from their beer. Consumer interest in a more flavorful light beer drove our decision to develop Bud Light Golden Wheat, and we are pleased to offer brewery tour guests the unique opportunity to sample the beer before its nationwide launch.I'm a little skeptical about this one, but let's twist it open and see what's inside.
Appearance: A nicely hazy, golden-amber body with a big white head that features decent retention and lacing. Lo an behold, there's even some sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Not much wrong with the way it looks.
Aroma: A neutered wheat body with some definite notes of citrus and spice. It's a little thin, but that's hardly a surprise.
Taste: Things quickly go south in the flavor profile—there's just not much here. It's predictably crisp, with mild citrus and just a hint of mixed spice. In a bizarre fashion, wheat only really shows up in the tangy aftertaste, and what's left of the malt is extremely watered down. At times, you can't find much of a malt backbone at all—and with the low (or totally absent) hop presence, all you're left with is a little citrus.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied with sharp carbonation and a crisp, clean finish.
Drinkability: Clearly, this beer was built for rapid consumption, and it delivers on that promise.
Verdict: Golden Wheat is almost totally devoid of flavor—imagine drinking a Witbier while you have an extreme cold—which is, frankly, a better result than I had feared. Here's hoping it somehow helps push some more people into exploring the world of beer.