Amstel, a Dutch brand sold under the Heineken umbrella, has announced a new beer. The product is Amstel Wheat Bier and it is going to be offered first in upscale taverns and pubs in seven U.S. cities: New York, Boston, Providence, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, and San Francisco. Distribution across the United States is planned for later this year.
According to Amstel, this new wheat bier is an authentic European wheat beer brewed according to Amstel’s strict craftsmanship. Amstel Wheat will offer a deep golden hue with hints of orange and amber. The aroma will emphasize floral notes, fruit, and bread while the taste will be slightly fruity with delicate hops. The flavour will lean toward the sweet side and will likely be smooth and drinkable.
Samples of Amstel Wheat will be provided at consumer sampling events with the beer served in authentic European wheat bier glassware. This type of glass is tall and includes a wider rim. It is intended to highlight the taste and appearance of wheat beer and it should help to showcase the product’s look and aroma.
Amstel hasn’t introduced a new product in more than ten years so the addition of Amstel Wheat to the lineup is certainly welcome news. However, when I imagine what this new beer will be like, I can’t help but display my skeptical side. After all, Amstel products are not known for their memorable taste and do not come even close to the flavor and complexity exhibited by a fine craft brew. Amstel Light, the company’s best selling brand, is very weak and watery and my concern is that Amstel Wheat will be nothing more than a wheat- enhanced clone of the company’s flagship product.
I won’t know for sure whether Amstel Wheat will prove itself worthy until the product gains national distribution so I will save any official criticism until then. Who knows- it might turn out to be a worthwhile brew with a taste and quality on the level of Amstel Gold or Amstel 1870 (two of the better Amstel products, although both are far from stellar). It could be one of the better products in the Amstel family and a beer for the ages. It could surpass Amstel Light and even other American and German wheat beers in overall quality and taste. It could win national awards and take home dozens of medals to its parent Heineken.
It could do any number of great things, but I wouldn’t bet on any of them.