- Style: Fruited Wheat Ale
- ABV: 3.5% Oh yeah, you heard me. Have two or three in a row and still be able to articulate exactly why The Donald is a moron
- Ease to locate: Most Chicagoland bottle shops and liquor stores who carry 5 Rabbit will have this seasonal beer. Here's a link to their Beer Menu page
- Color: Icy pink, almost like lightly hazy pink lemonade
- Head: 1 finger pinkish foam that changes to white as it quickly settles. A bit of shallow lacing
- Aroma: Guava juice, bit of citrus acid, and a touch of sour fermented wheat. Smells like a summer's afternoon
- Mouthfeel: Light body, but not watery. Highly carbonated and refreshing on a hot day
- Finish: Short and easy to drink
- Food friendly: The lower ABV lends itself to enjoying this beer on its own, but try it with some light summer dishes such as fruit salad or grilled chicken
Is there anything better than a icy cold, fruity sweet, slightly sweating popsicle on a sweltering summer's day? Yes. Yes, there is. And it's beer (of course. If you thought that you were reading an ice cream blog, well, maybe someday. But not today.) I'm not familiar with the Mexican treat of paletas, seeing as how I'm a North West side Irish girl who thinks that the notion of slathering mayo on roasted corn on the cob is exotic. Paletas are frozen fruit juice treats often sold out of bicycle propelled carts during the summer months. Around most of this city in the dog day months, during mid afternoon you can hear the "ting ting" of the cart's bells calling to the young and old (cause lets face it, the old are the ones with the cash.) I've yet to give into the temptation to stop and try one of these treats, but I can certainly relate. Just hearing the tinny opening chords of "Pop Goes The Weasel" blaring from a white truck is enough to make me crave a Push Up or a Bomber Pop or a giant ice cream Mickey Mouse head. The folks at 5 Rabbit get this city kid basic urge to indulge in a frosty treat once the sweltering season is in full force. Paletas Guava Wheat Ale is their solution and made all the better because it's beer. And beer makes everything better.
My Paletas poured an icy pink burst of July refreshment. It reminded me pink lemonade with it's lightly hazy, almost glowing appearance. It just looked refreshing as all hell The sunlight created a gorgeous ombre effect in the goblet. A finger's worth cloud of tight pink hued foam rose, only to quickly settle to a light, off white film covering the surface of the drink. Shallow, delicate lacing briefly crept up from the sides of the glass. The immediate scent of guava juice, with its fruity sweet appeal, grabbed my attention. When a beer names itself after a particular flavor, I do appreciate it when that certain note is easily identifiable. If you are going to call yourself a Coconut Chocolate Hazelnut Mocha Porter, I'd damn well better be able to pick out those coconut, chocolate, hazelnut, mocha notes without even trying (and more to the point, IS there a chocolate hazelnut mocha porter out there? Can some one brew me one? I'm not picky. Oh who are we kidding, I'm damn picky, but I still want that beer.) Anyway, yes, I could smell freshly pressed guava juice laced with a hit of citrus acidity and a bare hint of a savory spice. The sour character of fermented wheat cleaned up the nose as if to remind you that you are drinking a beer, not a Jamba Juice. As refreshing as the aroma was, the taste still offered me a surprise or two when I took a sip. The sweetness of the guava juice was more intense than on the nose, but the sour fermentation of the wheat followed the sweetness so quickly that it balanced the flavor immediately. On the back of the sip, the promised spices emerged. One was the subtle bite of peppercorns, while the more unexpected was the note of tarragon. To me, tarragon is a spice that I associate with french cooking and mainly with chicken dishes. It was not what I was expecting in my fruited wheat ale. But it worked and it worked well. The mix of the savory elements layered under the sweetness of the fruit and sourness of the grain created a deceptively simple drink. The mouthfeel was light without becoming even a bit watery. The carbonation level on this beer was turned up to an 11. The extreme amount of fizziness could easily turn off some drinkers, but I happened to enjoy it. The trick is to serve this ale very well chilled (I know, I know, but this is an exception to the rule. It's named after a Popsicle for a reason.) The carbonation not only creates a dry element that offset any sweetness from the flavor, but it enhanced the refreshment quality when served at a lower temperature. A rather short finish quickly ran through the gambit of the flavor profile, but remember that this beer clocked in at a very low percentage of ABV. Honestly, that sort of what I want from my fruited session ale. Let me take a sip and follow it right away with another and another.
While I advocate sipping 5 Rabbit Cervesia's Paletas Guava Wheat Ale all by it's lonesome self on a hot summer's day, I get that sometimes you get hungry too. Try this beer with light summer fare, such as a Honey & Lime Dressed Fruit Salad. The fresh fruit will play wonderfully into the guava note of the ale, while the fermented wheat quality will counter act the sweet acidity from the salad's dressing. Alternatively, you could serve this drink with something more substantial. Toss some Simple Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken on the grill and let the savory aspect from the beer's spices come out to play. I recommend adding a dash of tarragon to the linked recipe for the honey mustard sauce in order to further play with the savory elements from the ale. When 5 Rabbit Cervesia first openned in Chicago, I was excited and predicted great things for them. Think I'm kidding? Check out this very early Down The Hatch blog post on their Blonde Ale. (Awww. Down The Hatch was so cute at that age.) Then the brewery went through, well, lets just be charitable and call them growing pains. But lately, just as I've become accustomed to writing the brewery off, 5 Rabbit has begun to basically knock my socks off in unexpected ways. They're taking chances in a Pipeworks/Moody Tongue/Obscure-Microbrewery-Who-Can-Do-Whatever-The-Hell-They-Want-Cause-They're-Growler-Fill-Only-Anyway fashion. And all while still staying true to their unique Latino heritage philosophy, which is part of what impressed me when they first began. And it's a story that I'm going to enjoy watching as it continues to develop. Hopefully on a warm, sunshine filled summer's afternoon while sipping my guava beer and being ever so grateful that it's not January anymore.