By Jay Brooks
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 at 9:54 am in On Beer.
One of Sierra Nevada Brewing’s lesser know beers was a crystal wheat beer they made in their earlier days. It sold well, but eventually other brands out-shined it and it was discontinued. But then something odd happened. The local market in their hometown of Chico kept requesting the beer, so much so that they starting brewing it again just to satisfy demand in and around Chico.
They renamed the Crystal Wheat Old Chico, in honor of an brewery of the same name that operated in Chico from 1865 to 1899. They even started bottling it, distributing in grocery stores and other retailers just in their local area. The chain stores did so well selling the re-branded Old Chico beer that they began asking to carry in more of their stores.
So the demand for Old Chico Crystal Wheat caused Sierra Nevada to reconsider and they sent it to distributors throughout Northern California and now you can find it in grocery stores all over the Bay Area. A true success story based on public demand.
Crystal Wheat is a light, refreshing beer made with a portion of wheat. It’s similar to a hefeweizen, but isn’t cloudy. In Germany, such beers are often referred to as kristalweizen or kristallweizen to distinguish them from a hefeweizen, which means “with yeast,” and is supposed to be hazy because it still has the yeast swimming in the beer. A crystal wheat, as you may have guessed, is crystal clear because it’s been filtered and the yeast is not still in the bottle. As a result, many of the flavors are muted, but the lighter wheat malt malt keeps it clean and refreshing. Kristalweizens are usually effervescent with a dry mouthfeel, too.