Style: Imperial American Hefeweizen
Brewer’s Note: “A weisbier with an American twist, On the Count of Three commemorates Baxter’s third anniversary by combining the old and the new. Using traditional German yeast to ferment and uncommonly big but smooth wheat beer, then adding generous doses of West Coast hop varieties, we celebrate our past and anticipate a bright future.”
The can’s label is lively, yet old fashioned, which I appreciate in an anniversary ale’s label. I love the green and gold color scheme, and the image of the old folk band playing is excellent and classy. The layout of the beer’s name is also rather fancy and nice on the eyes. This can is worthy of a shelf for sure!
The beer pours a proper hazy yellow with notes of cloudy straw and orange dancing through the glass. It’s an ugly and muddled color that the beer settles into, but it looks proper and beautiful for a hefe. The beer pours with a perfectly massive head of huge, creamy, off-white bubbles that stick around, and crown the beer in a regal sheet of suds and fat lacing. In body, the beer is very cloudy, with fat chunks sitting in the bottom of the glass. The beer’s body is opaque with clouding and just a hint of the other side of the glass coming through. On the nose, the beer smells thick with spicy, clove-like yeast esters and deep, pungent citrus pineapple, grapefruit, and pine scents. Touches of prickly cactus fruit, passion fruit, and banana also gush against the nose. The smell is especially thick and coating on the nose, which I like a lot. On the tongue, the beer tastes bitter and sweet in an oddly nice blending. Bitter hops and sweet yeast funk take turns in a perpetual tango over the tongue, interspersing themselves with light touches of citric acid that gives the beer a gentle pop and pulls saliva into the mouth. There is a touch of hot alcohol at the back of the beer that is rather well hidden by the other flavors, but probably shouldn’t be coming through given the 7% ABV. The heat is not oppressive, however, and does add another touch of complexity to the sip. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet caramel and wheat malt, moving into citrus, then pineapple, then spicy clove, then passion fruit flavors with a touch of pine rounding out the sip. The finish is bitter with pine and grapefruit, and very reminiscent of a classic IPA, which I love. Touches of wheat bread and crackers float on the tongue around the finish, along with a smooth, banana cream flavor. There are a lot of cool things happening in the flavor of this beer, but they don’t quite blend as nicely as I was hoping. In the mouth, the beer feels oddly watery, yet medium bodied with a thick creaminess to parts of the sip. The wateriness helps the drinkability of the beer, but does takes away from the oomf that the beer could carry. Carbonation is soft and pillow-likw, and the finish has a great creamy pull on the tongue, but there is a wateriness on the edges that is off with the rest of the beer’s weight. Overall, this is an intriguing and interesting beer. I’m really excited to see Baxter doing some “outside the box” brews, and hope they continue. The beer has some great hop character, and nice subdued hefeweizen notes, but it doesn’t quite blend as nicely as I was hoping it would. The beer is also sitting quite heavily in my stomach, which is a little surprising given the 7%. It does however, do beautifully alongside fatty foods. In the end, I like this beer, but I see a lot of room for improvement. It’s a great one to try and I highly advise it for the experience, especially when put with food.
In case you were wondering which foods to try, I tried pairing this beer up with a nice spicy chicken stir fry. The stir fry was composed of chicken, green cabbage, green peppers, cremini mushrooms, shredded carrots, a little bit of fresh parsley, spinach leaves, and soba noodles. It had a spicy stir fry sauce and was fried in the pan with a bit of On the Count of 3 for an extra kick. Together, the beer and stir fry were a surprisingly excellent match. The rich flavors of the beer cut right through the oils in the stir fry and allowed for more of the vegetable and spicy sauce to come through, while the beer seemed to hone in its flavors and allowed the oils to cut the alcoholic bite right out of the beer. I’m pleasantly surprised at the pairing, though I suspect using the beer in the stir fry helped it along. Stir fry and hoppy hefeweizens, who knew? This beer is surprisingly nice with food, and I would love to experiment further with it.