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Strawberry Music Festival Beers – Kona Longboard Lager and Widmer Hefeweizen

8 September, 2009 7 comments
Strawberry Festival Beer Selection

Strawberry Festival Beer Selection

The Strawberry Music Festival is a fabulous place to be – we’ve just returned from the Labour Day weekend fest, replete with memories, food and dirt. Camping out in the mountains was tremendous fun, the music was magnificent and the company was out of this world. I could talk about the great hospitality, fine weather and whatnot until the cows come home, but for now I must content myself with talking about the beer.

Toward the evening, the Sierra Nevada mountains cool off quickly, so while the day was still warm, I decided to head for the beer tent and sample their wares (all on draught, all served into plastic cups).

I have to say that there’s wasn’t much of a choice, as you can see from the photo. Not that I was too dismayed; I decided to dive in to some unfamiliar territory. Eschewing the standard fare of Guinness, Newcastle and Sierra Nevada, plumped for the Hefeweizen.

Widmer Hefeweizen

Not that anyone will lose much sleep over this, but this has to be one of the least inspiring examples of the style I have ever had. Now normally, this style of beer is pleasantly fruity, spicy and refreshing, bu in this case I found that there’s little in the nose, the colour is lacking, there’s little body and a disappointingly bland flavour. My standard for the style is Hoegaarden, being the first hefe I sampled all those years ago in Nottingham. Whilst that isn’t the finest of beers, it’s pleasant enough, and has become the yardstick by which I judge others. The Widmer comes nowhere near even close.

There’s barely any malt either in the nose or the taste, neither was there any of the warm spicy citrus I’ve come to expect from the type. It’s a thin brew in every respect, and in fact the only good thing I can say is that it was cold and wet. Not unpleasant, just bitterly disappointing.

No hops, little malt, and barely any nose. My first C-rated beer. C-minus, in fact.

Kona Brewing Longboard Lager

Undeterred, I ploughed on,and while the music played, settled on a brew that a few others at the Co-op have recommended – Kona’s Longboard Lager.

It’s a pale gold, as you might expect from a lager, and while it had a good head at the pour, by the time I’d walked back to the music, it had vanished, leaving a faint few bubbles at the rim. “Maybe this is due to the plastic cup”, I thought, feeling fairly generous. “Maybe it will be an improvement”.

Let me just say this. If ever you’re looking for an all-purpose beer, this is it. It will serve excellently in your windscreen washer bottle, perhaps it will remove those stubborn grass stains from your trousers from sitting on the grass at a music festival. Keep a bottle handy and shake it up to extinguish a small grass fire. Maybe it will quench your thirst if you’ve nothing else, but one thing it will not do is surprise your nose or delight your palate.

You may feel I’m being a little unkind, and that may be true, because I’m not a big fan of lagers. I’ve come across many of them, and as a rule I find them to be uninspiring, thin and tasteless. Perhaps that’s the point, that lagers are brewed for the relief of thirst, not for the benefit of Real Ale Bores. That said, I’ve had many better.

This one had little in the nose. A little breadiness and a slightly grassy scent but otherwise, little to report. It has a slightly sugary flavour, but not much else. Again, there’s nothing to say against it, but neither is there much to far for it, either. As it’s brewed in Hawaii, and given the name, I’ll assume that it’s aimed at the hard-sporting surfer who wants and easy and quick thirst-quencher after whatever it is that surfers really do. I’ll stop now before I get too rude about this one. Solid C.

After this, the dullest review of beer I’ve so far done, let me just say this. Strawberry Music Festival is still well worthwhile. We had a great holiday weekend, and you should too. Go for great music. Just take your own beer.

Update

After all the comments received about this post, I feel obliged to point out that the keg could have been run about the countryside, and was poorer as a result. Hoiking beer around the country can cause a disturbance in the Force, maybe I should have mentioned that before. This said, BeerAdvocate users didn’t rate either of them that highly, either.

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