I came across Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat Ale while visiting Iowa for an old friend's wedding. The bright yellow label caught my eye and the description "Urban Wheat Ale" piqued my curiosity.
What I discovered was a crisp and refreshing brew. There's a bit of sweetness and wheaty tang to the 312. A subtle hoppiness is present, but it's really the cereal flavour of wheat that dominates. There's also a slight hint of citrus fruit present, lending the beer only the slightest bit of bitterness. The 312 is light and its flavours are crisp and clean but gentle. Any after taste is minimal. This light body only lends to its drinkability.
Two points worth noting: At 4.2% abv, this isn't the beer for getting a quick buzz going. More important is the suggested serving temperature of 40 degrees. Serve the beer too cold and much of its flavour is lost. Serve it too warm and those flavours become messy and indistinct.
Overall the 312 is enjoyable if somewhat straightforward. Its lightness and milder flavours gives this ale a versatility. The 312 could be a real workhorse beer because it likely will pair well with a number of dishes including salads, fish, and milder cheeses like Buffalo Mozzarella. Stronger, more intense flavours on the other hand could risk overwhelming it. And of course, the 312 can be enjoyed on its own or served with a wedge of lemon or orange.
That all being said, I still have one nagging question: What the heck is urban wheat?