It's hard to believe that Bristol Brewing Company has been around for 25 years, but here we are. In 1994, Mike Bristol and company joined the then-burgeoning microbrew scene, debuting beers that remain iconic in this city. To celebrate, the brewery has and will continue to release mixed 12-pack birthday boxes celebrating its flagship beers.
Birthday box #2 spotlights Beehive Honey Wheat, a summer seasonal that the brewery simply kept brewing once summer was over. Each box features three Beehives, plus three bottles of Bristol’s wit, three of Bristol’s hefeweizen and three of a newly-created Simcoe hefeweizen.
We recently received a promo box of these beers. Here’s what we thought.
The Beehive honey wheat remains a reliable go-to summer beer. The honey adds a subtle dryness as well as flavor, and as easy as this beer goes down, it’s by no means thin or insubstantial. We’ve put more than a few pints of this one back over the years, but it’s nice to take a moment to reflect and appreciate the details in a familiar beer like this.
Bristol brews their witbier with coriander and orange peel, which both stand out in the beer. We’ve had more than a few wits wherein the citrus peel and lemony spice vanish, but not so here. Further, the Belgian yeast character stands strong and unmistakable on nose and sip, powerful but proportionate. Add in how this beer sips rich with substantial body, it could sell the box on its own.
Arguably, so could the hefeweizen. The beer articulates style-specific banana and clove notes well, with banana adding subtle fruitiness and clove notes standing out more in this unfiltered beer. It’s a good example of the style.
Adding Simcoe hops, though, changes things up. The Simcoe hefe bears grassy, dank notes on the nose. The yeast still plays a little, but the hops upstage it, a little sticky but not cloying and more piney than fruity. To be clear, we like this beer a lot, but — bear with us for a peculiar comparison — the best description we can find for its particular stickiness and substantial mouthfeel is to think about cleaning cannabis resin off of a pipe. Again, we like this beer. It’s weird and interesting in a far more modest way than even the most pedestrian of sours or farmhouse ales.
Of note, the circumstances of our tasting session left us with four opened, unfinished beers, so rather than risk wasting them, we threw them into a single growler for transport. The resulting four-beer suicide tasted pretty good too. (Don't hate us, Mike and team.)
Birthday box #2 can be found on liquor store shelves now. It’s limited edition, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. These beers are also on draft at Bristol’s taproom at the Ivywild School. Look out for two more birthday boxes to release later this year.