Allagash White

Where Spotted: 1905, 1905 9th St. NW

Price: $6.50/40 centiliters (about 14 ounces)

wheat will rock you: Allagash White dominated the competition in my wheat beer tasting last summer (Young & Hungry, “Wheat and Lowdown,” 7/4/2008). It wasn’t until I found it on tap just off U Street that I thought to enjoy it in cold weather, too. Its bright orange notes are a welcome contrast to high-gravity winter beers, while its generous heaps of malt flavor give it enough backbone for chilly months.

yeast common denominator: Yeast is often overshadowed by malt, hops, and water on ingredient lists, but a good yeast can take subtle beers in new directions. (Allagash uses its own proprietary Belgian strain, while other U.S. breweries typically use common brewers’ strains.) Yeasts are bacteria that turn sugars from the grain into alcohol, in a process that leaves behind aromatic byproducts such as esters and phenols. Without getting in over my head with the chemistry, I’ll just say that these aromatic molecules make certain beers, shall we say, “funky.” In a good one, that’s a plus.

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