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The Weekly Beer Geek

Weekly Beer Review: Shipyard Brewing’s Melonhead

Melonhead
Wheat Ale
Shipyard Brewing
$2.29/Bottle (12 oz)
Grade: A-

The Beginning:
While I was bouncing around the Midwest for the holidays, something very special happened: the Winter Solstice. Midwinter. The longest, darkest night of the year. In ancient times the night was often celebrated with revelry and bonfires, a show of human defiance in the face of grim nature. So what does that have to do with anything? Well, since we’re PAST the Solstice, it means the days are officially getting longer again. We’ve turned the corner, and we’re now moving TOWARD summer rather than away from it. I see no better way to celebrate that, than by drinking a melon-flavored wheat ale.

The Brewer’s Pitch:
Shipyard says Melonhead is the latest addition to their “Headless Horseman” series, which intrigues me right off the bat. The company rep admits that he’s usually more of a fan of “beer-flavored beer,” but that even he likes a change now and then. Melonhead introduces multiple layers of sweet and fresh watermelon flavor. That, paired with its low bitterness and relatively low alcohol content, makes it a great choice for sessioning on hot days when you want something that won’t play too rough with your palate.

The Beer:
Melonhead is a clear, extremely bubbly copper-gold that looks a lot like ginger ale. The nose is faint and sweet, primarily watermelon candy with a faint hint of wheat underneath. The beer is extremely thin and light, with almost no texture on the tongue other than the fizz of the carbonation. It’s a light wheat ale with hints of sweetness from the malt, but the real story here is the watermelon. The first element is the flavor of watermelon candy-less sweet, but the same slightly artificial flavor. On the back and end into the aftertaste, though, the flavor of an actual watermelon emerges. A bit earthy and musky, the more subtle flavor allows the beer flavor to assert itself more as well. This blend of watermelon juice and mild wheat lingers on the very back of the palate.

The Breakdown:
I’m struggling with how to rate this beer, because I try to be objective and how good this beer is depends 100% on if you like the idea of a wheat beer that tastes like watermelon. I like it quite a bit. I wish it had a bit more body, it’s so light on the tongue it feels like some flavor opportunity is lost. However, it’s definitely a pleasant little bit of fun. It’s light, it doesn’t weigh heavily on the palate, and it introduces a flavor that is seldom if ever successfully reproduced in beer. I’ll be 100% adding this to my summertime beer lineup.

The Bottom Line:
The brewer ALSO pitches this as being available between March and July. I don’t want to think my liquor store would keep things on the shelves out of season, so I’ll just blame it on a time-travelling beer wizard.

 

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