The following beer recipe is featured in the May/June 2021 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Access this issue along with the archives with Zymurgy Online!
Recipe Courtesy of Rich Toohill.
My journey into homebrewing and the desire for different styles of beer started in the late 1970s. During a trip to Canada, I developed a liking for the draught version of Guinness that was brewed there and distributed widely.
Back home, my search for “different” beers mostly centered around trying regional lagers that were not distributed in our area. The fabled desire for Coors was epic, as it wasn’t to be found in Iowa. Our glee when Olympia and Stroh’s began local distribution! The brief fascination with malt liquor!
The occasional Harp, Heineken, and Carlsberg did offer some variation to the standard American lager fare. One could find other German imports if you were willing to pay the price and withstand the skunk associated with those products.
My real awakening with craft beer began with the opening of Front Street Brewery in Davenport, Iowa, in 1993. Their Raging River was my first experience with pale ale, and it was an eye opener for my beginning to understand the diverse styles of beer that existed in the world. Still, finding those styles in Davenport was limited.
I had heard that one could buy kits and make some of these different styles of beer at home, and I mentioned to my first wife that I was going to explore brewing beer. She beat me to it and surprised me with equipment and an ingredient kit for Christmas.
My early homebrews were stouts, brown ales, ambers, and reds. My second year, I brewed a pale ale. Around that time, I attended a live music event in downtown Rock Island, Ill., which is across the Mississippi River from Davenport. The usual suspect lagers were for sale on the plaza, so I ventured into Rock Island Brewing Co., which is not a brewery, but a pub and eatery named after a historical brewery in Rock Island.
The bartender, John Hovarth (who still pours beers at Radicle Effect Brewerks in Rock Island), commanded multiple taps, many of which poured craft beers from around the country that weren’t available in local stores. One he suggested was Bell’s Oberon. I asked about the style and was dumbfounded when he told me it was a wheat beer. My ignorance of beer styles was evident when I said, “I didn’t know they made beer from wheat.”
As the years passed, I tried my hand at crafting hefeweizen, dunkelweizen, and my favorite style, witbier, which I have brewed multiple times. In 2017, I brewed my first American wheat beer. Simple and straightforward, Summer Wheat has become my go-to summer beer.