For this week’s pairing we are combining the indica dominant hybrid Berry White with anotherSierra Nevada beer. This time we are going to try out Sierra Nevada’s Old Chico Crystal Wheat, a beer that breaks out of the craft beer norm to mix high quality with high drinkability. This pairing is fun and easygoing, and great for almost any occasion.
Berry White - though technically an indica dominant strain - offers an experience on the lighter side of the indica spectrum, distinctive from the heavy couchlock or sedation we often associate with these strains. The spirit of the effect is more along the lines of a balanced, upbeat, hybrid. Berry White is the child of two long-time household names in the world of cannabis, White Widow and Blueberry. Both are classic hybrids known for their balanced yet upbeat intensity. Favored for stress and anxiety more than for sleep or pain, Berry White is great fuel for creativity and conversation.
Sierra Nevada’s Old Chico Crystal Wheat is a Northern California specialty that aims to bring the discerning, craft beer approach to a widely loved, highly drinkable style of beer that is often ignored by craft brewers. In a backlash to the era of mass produced, tasteless industrial beers, American craft brewers tended to favor bold, full-flavored styles, such as the India Pale Ales that have become a hallmark of American craft beer. Some attention has also been paid to heavy, malty styles such as porters and stouts. Old Chico, however, is in a class of its own bringing the company’s high standard for quality to an American Pale Wheat Ale, showing what the term “light beer” should really mean.
Although they are both lagers rather than ales, the taste profile of the Old Chico Crystal Wheat has more in common with the flavor profile of brands like Pabst and Budweiser than most of the styles explored by craft breweries. However, Sierra Nevada brings a more complex and nuanced flavor to this drinkable style of beer. This is a beer you can drink all day, as the smooth and relatively light taste won’t wear on you the way a stout or IPA eventually will.
The taste of the Crystal Wheat is somewhat malty, but light, with a level of hops just assertive enough to round out the malt to create a balanced and extremely smooth taste. Sierra Nevada uses complex, floral, but not overpowering Crystal Hops to achieve the desired effect. As with many other wheat beers, banana bread and clove notes are present as part of the complex maltiness. The overall smoothness and drinkability makes me think of it as a warm weather beer, but it also offers a balanced, spicy, hop presence that would make it just fine for a cold day as well.
In terms of the pairing, the lighter and even unassuming taste of the beer allows the light, sweet, yet sour berry taste of the strain to be fully appreciated. This is a flexible pairing, good for any time, but ideal for an all-day social event. While cannabis strains can really go either way when it comes to socializing, I would say that most bring out the introvert in me, and I think this is true for many smokers. However, once in a while, there is a strain that eases social anxiety and helps conversations flow. With a heavy sativa influence, this is one of those strains. Meanwhile the Old Chico is a light offering with a moderate alcohol content of 4.8 – perfect for session drinking, or to accompany food - barbecue in particular, although the light and easygoing taste could easily accompany chicken, fish, or veggies.
Berry White - being an inspiring strain for creative pursuits - alongside Old Chico, will get the ideas flowing. Think about this pairing for a jam session with friends. Not to mention for solo pursuits such as visual arts or writing.
This pairing offers an overall lighter and more upbeat combination - in terms of tastes and sensations - compared with the heavy effects of so many cannabis and alcohol pairings. Both the beer and the strain are unique in their worlds, each offering a singular experience, while the two together offer a bright, easygoing, like-able experience.