I’d Tap That: Willy Vanilly blends wheat and vanilla for a classy summer beer
Glassware: Drink wheat beer cool to enjoy the refreshing quality they posses. The addition of vanilla to this beer makes a unique aromatic experience that should be enjoyed. Spiegelau makes a great wheat beer glass however, a snifter glass will also service the beer well.
Description: Willy Vanilly pours a slightly hazy golden yellow hue with a bright white head that quickly dissipates leaving no lacing on the glass. The aroma is very pleasant and vanilla forward with light touches of sweet wheat malts and hints of lemon in the background. The taste follows the nose and is again vanilla forward that mixes perfectly with the sweet wheat malts. It’s followed by light touches of citrus from the hops. The finish is dry with a lingering vanilla flavor left on the palate. The light body and moderate carbonation give it a biting yet refreshing mouthfeel perfect for hot days. This is a unique beer with flavors that seem to contrast yet work together in a strange way. A definite must try for all fans of the wheat beer style or those looking for something new this summer!
Food pairing: Wheat beers are generally viewed as lightweight beers that go best with lighter dishes such as appetizers or salads. While this is true for Willy Vanilly, the addition of vanilla expands this beer into other pairings not typically achieved by other wheat beers. This is a great beer to enjoy with coconut shrimp. The vanilla and coconut flavor combination is wonderful and playful while the hints of citrus are perfect with shrimp. The beer is great with a light summer salad piled high with nuts, berries and a light vinaigrette to round out the flavor profile. The area that Willy Vanilly shines in though is one that most wheat beers cannot tread, with desserts. The addition of vanilla gives this beer a unique sweetness that shines when paired with desserts, especially those featuring vanilla. Try pairing with vanilla bean custard or ice cream, the creamy body of the dish will enhance the beer’s mouthfeel and the vanilla will truly become a showcase. Willy Vanilly is also a fantastic beer to pair with birthday cake, no matter the flavor, vanilla always adds a depth to any cake and this beer has it in spades.
The Final Word: During the summer months wheat beers are a perfect style to enjoy. Alpine Beer Company has brewed a beer that is extremely refreshing, light and with an interesting twist. The natural inclination for wheat beers is to add fruit of some variety, instead the brewers added vanilla. While this may seem bizarre, it makes perfect sense once you take a sip. The vanilla quality makes the beer soothing while adding a slightly sweet note. This opens the beer up into new territory that many other wheat beers have not gone. Alpine has built a strong reputation on its hop forward and balanced beers, but with Willy Vanilly it proved themselves as a brewery capable of brewing far more than one style. This beer’s name is also really fun to say.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.
Brewer: Alpine Beer Company
Beer: Willy Vanilly
Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.5 %