Westbrook Brewing Co.

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Smoked Beer
3.56 | pDev: 15.45%
Westbrook Brewing Co.
South Carolina, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Notes: This is our interpretation of a Grätzer, which is a traditional German style smoked wheat brewed with lots of hops and 90% oak smoked wheat malt. The result is a spritzy, smokey and refreshing ale.

10 IBU
Reviews: 21 | Ratings: 87 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

2.75/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

The brewing world has seen tremendous advancements in the past few decades: advancements in ingredient development, brewing technique, equipment and intelligence. These developments have led us to many unique and refined flavors while relegating others to extinction. The gratzer should probably be the later.

Its hazy golden pour easily leads the eye to wheat to foster expectations of fruit, spice and bread. Instead the nose is met with strong smoky phenols to overwhelm the senses. Smoldering embers link with burning plastics for an unsettles, peaten, peppery irritation of the olfactories. Once the mindshift turns to want mesquite and savory flavors, the tongue is attacked with sourness and immediate astringency.

While the smoke lifts through the middle, there's the evocation of burnt lime, burnt lemon, burnt crabapple. Strong sourness easily infiltrates the tastebuds with the intensity nearly of white wine vinegar and margarita. Light saline qualities link up with the sourness and cracker-thin malt breadiness for faint fullness and savory effects.

Though its strong effervescence ensures a crisp and light body, it also amplifies the smoke, pepper and chemical properties of the phenolic complexes and upsets the balance as much as it assists the body. However, the mind quickly goes to tonic water and soda-like sprite. Simply put, the flavors that are known to the gratzer are not compatible with each other and even the qualified brewers of Westbrook are incapable of saving the style.

May 04, 2015
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.03/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

650 mL bottle poured into a plastic cup.

Appearance - Deep golden body. Huge white head.

Smell - Smoky. Bright wheat. Weird.

Taste - Bright citrus. Wheat grain. Smokey. Bitter in the back.

Mouthfeel - Very light, but quite bitter. Smokiness detracts a bit.

Overall - Well, I guess this is what it's supposed to taste like, but I don't get it.

Aug 10, 2014
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AdamF625 from Massachusetts

3.03/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- hazy orange with a large soapy white head.
S- wheat, clove, earthy hops, and basil.
T- earthy bitter hops, wheat, faint smoke, burnt corn, and grassy.
M- moderate carbonation and light body, dry finish.
O-This was a strange one for me. I was expecting a lot more smokiness and received a lot of earth tones instead. I would have to dive deeper into the style to appreciate it.

Jul 20, 2014
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patre_tim from Thailand

3.45/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Cloudy lemon gold with lots of fine bubbled carbonation, 2 fingers of off white head, chunky lacing.

S: Lemonade, light smoke, sour quality, bubblegum, plastic

T: Light crisp lemon rind, a sudden hit of bitterness, light lemon juice quality, plastic, light smoke but its almost not there.

M: Light and airy and powdery, lots of fine bubbled carbonation.

O: My first of this style, I was glad to find this in Greenville, SC and am enjoying it on Deerfield Beach, FL, July 14, 14. Reminds me of Chimay’s lesser distributed monks staple brew, in lightness and some of the smoky plastic like flavor profile. Not the same style, just some similarities. Also reminiscent of witbiers. Very light and good for hot weather.

Jul 15, 2014
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Tone from Missouri

3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a cloudy, maize color. 1/4 inch head of a white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, wheat, smoke, coriander, and slight citrus. Fits the style of a Smoked Beer. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with a high carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, citrus, smoke, hint of hop, and slight wheat. Overall, good appearance, decent aroma, and body. The smoke is subtle, but discernible.

Jun 04, 2014
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GarthDanielson from Virginia

3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a pale, hazy, corn yellow coloring with a steady flow of carbonation throughout, and a tall, fluffy, big bubbled, white head. Aromas of tangy sweet banana, tropical fruit, coriander, nutmeg, clove, hints of smoke, a bready backbone, and some yeasty funk. Smells are pretty balanced, and pretty unique. Flavors are a bit more smoke forward, with a lemon, banana, and tart apple fruit blend to follow. The smoke carries on throughout, and the spices come off a bit on the muddled side. Robust, light bodied, with a heavily roasted, smoky, and tart/tangy aftertaste. The finish is really quick, short lived, kind of like a slap after all the places the palate went to. Different brew, but a bit of a jumble.

May 29, 2014
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macrosmatic from Florida

3.94/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to dogdoc for sending this bottle! Reviewed from notes. Poured from bomber into an Upland pint glass.

A: Very hazy light gold, with a thin white head and visible carbonation average to a bit low.

S: Smoky, like old charcoal, wheat malt and a light lactic presence. The smoke isn't terribly strong, but seems to blanket over most of the rest of potential aromas.

T: Barbecue smoke, light wheat and pilsner malts, a very light lactic tartness, and a mild hoppy bitterness towards the end. The smoke flavor lingers a bit in the hang.

M: Light body, moderate carbonation sensation, no alcohol presence at all.

O: I believe this is my second Gratzer, and while smoked beers aren't my thing in general, I find these lighter smoked beers to be among the most palatable. I don't know that I'd go looking for another pour of this one, but that's personal preference. I feel like the beer was well-made. Not nearly as tart as Westbrook's take on the Gose, but still a quality beer. Would be about a 3.5 on my scale of personal preference.

Mar 16, 2014
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joe1510 from Illinois

4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz Bomber

Yet another gem sent my way courtesy of Cackalack Wil, thanks guy! This Gratzer is very pale, straw golden from the get go with substantial haze. Tiny little carbonation bubbles rush to the crown from what seems every surface of the glass. The head is amazingly white, creamy, and leaves behind sheet lacing. Impressive.

The nose actually smells very refreshing, mouthwatering actually, especially when taking into consideration that this is a smoked beer. Tangy wheat is first and foremost with the smoke a close second but keep in mind this beer is soft all around. Neither the wheat nor the smoke are overly done. There's an undercurrent of snappy citrus that reminds me of coriander but is probably from the "lots of hops" that Westbrook mentions using.. I like where this is headed.

There's nothing really to update from nose to flavor. The wheat remains tangy and surprisingly substantial for a beer with such low abv. The smoke is soft, muting the wheat a bit and leaving a film on the palate with hardwood embers and very mild smoked sausage lingering. Again, what reminds me of coriander pops up in the middle and adds a touch of citrus. Hops again. The finish is salty like a gose. I'm a big fan of these flavor combinations.

The mouthfeel is tough to explain. The actual weight is light but it has, from the smoked malt I assume, a palate coating ability that seems wholly appropriate. The light smoke lingers while a little slickness remains after each drink. This beer is refreshing and highly drinkable.

Westbrook nailed this beer. It's exactly what they describe on the label; "spritzy, smoky, and refreshing". The wheat and smoke are perfectly balanced. The hops add a nice citric side note. I could drink this beer often. Can this and toss it in sixers. Thanks. Cheers, Wilson!

Mar 09, 2014
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Axnjxn from North Carolina

3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bomber into a tulip

pours a light golden color with a big foamy white head. smell on point...tangy, refreshing. lots of wheat and coriander. dont get any smoke in the nose. this beers high point. taste starts out with a TAD of tartness but is soon overwhelmed by the smoke and this flavor lasts all the way through. not very strong smoke honestly, but enough to be too much, especially because this is such a light beer. body is light and carbonation is medium.

overall wont be returning, but not terrible.

Feb 12, 2014
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nickfl from Florida

3.52/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a small white head that dissipates quickly and leaves no lace. The body is gold and very hazy. The aroma is very smoky, with notes of ash and something I hate to describe as cigarette smoke. Light, dry malt up front with a bit of honey and some smoke. Finishes with a touch of spicy hops and more ashy smoke. Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish. Kind of odd, the oak smoke is really odd and not particularly pleasant in the aroma. That being said, it is much more drinkable than it smells with a balanced finish and relatively mild smoke character.

Aug 01, 2013
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Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

4.18/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very excited to try this one. I'm a big fan of German beers, low alcohol beers on a wrm day, and smoked beers. This seems like a great marriage of the above.

The beer is clear and pale golden with a small white head. The aroma brings some German characteristics, bread, grain, subtle smoke. Smoke character emerges more as the beer is allowed to warm. Really light and refreshing. A lot of flavor packed into such a low abv beer, though everything is chill and understated. Smoke and kolsch linger in the finish. Nicely done. I'm glad I have another to enjoy.

May 06, 2013
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StaveHooks from Oklahoma

3.74/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle served in a SN IPA glass
Bottled on 12/19/12

A - Extremely pale golden color, slightly hazed with 1.5 fingers white dish soap head.

S - Nice delicate smoke, wheat malt, lemon/lime citrus, some sun block aroma.

T - Wheat husks, lightly smokey, fresh oak wood, white pepper, salty lemon/lime, slight vitamin mineral note towards the finish. Finishes very clean and refreshing.

M - Light clean body, effervescence carbonation, clean and refreshing finish.

It was hard to drink this slow. I honestly could have chugged it without blinking an eye. Lots of flavor packed into such a low ABV with effortless balance. Refreshing just keeps coming to my mind. This is my first beer from Westbrook and I don't want it to be the last! Thanks to Hopswagger for the bottle.

Apr 09, 2013
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Treebs from Illinois

3.91/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle served in a Westbrook snifter. Bottle 12/19/12.

A: Pours a semi-hazy apricot color with a foamy white head forming on the pour. It recedes to a thin bubble film and ring. Sticky sheets of lace are left down the glass.

S: I've smelt a beer like this beer. Cracked wheat with a nice smokey body. No char or meat flavors, just a nice woody smoke. There is a light underlying fruitiness to it as well, but it smells fresh and grassy as well.

T: The smoke is upfront. Wood smoked oats with some grassy hop undertones. There is a light residual tartness, but it is short lived on the palate. The finish is extremely clean with just a hint of smoke on the jowls.

M: This goes down like water. Light bodied with a medium high carbonation level. Slightly prickly in nature this goes down very easy and is highly drinkable.

O: This was quite the interesting beer. The smoked wood flavors that this had was something I've never picked up in a beer of this drinkability and lightness. The smoke isn't overpowering and it fits nicely with the light base beer. Sessionable and highly drinkable. I recommend this to people looking to try something new.

Mar 18, 2013
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listenatjoes from Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In a world of heavy hitting, high ABV craft beers I'm intrigued to find complexity and flavors in the 4% and lower ABV beers. This is surely one. From a 22 oz bomber with bottling date of 12/19/2012 from the Greenville Beer Exchange.
Kudos to Westbrook for going so low on the ABV, at the risk of creating a watered down brew as some reviewers have noted. But this does make for a refreshing, effervescent beer with very light color (Berliner weisse) but with these great smoked wheat aromas. Much of that can be read from the label. Where the label and I disagree is in the "lots of hops". I'm getting no floral/finishing hops from this and it is only mildly bitter. At 10 IBU, it just ain't hoppy. And that's OK with me. Layers of wheat, light malt with a semi-tart finish.
As a disclaimer, though I've drank hundreds of different brews across dozens of styles, this is the first Gratzer-style beer I've had. So in terms of hitting the style guidelines, I can't be sure and have no palate reference for this specific type.

Mar 03, 2013
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Hopswagger from South Carolina

3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

P: Hazy pale golden body with wet white bubbles that spread to the edges and leave a small wake behind.

S: Oak smoked wheat, lemon zest, b-vitamins, earthy notes. Aroma is similar to smoked bologna.

T/M: Smoked oak, salt, Copenhagen long cut, wheat and musty timid earthy hops. Mouthfeel is light and effervescent. A tart lemon b-vitamin finish that leaves your palate wet and requires a second swallow.

O: Interesting flavors of tobacco, earthy notes, smoke and wheat. I love that brewers are stepping up and going outside the norm. This is an exciting style that creates a unique flavor. A definite beer to try if you get the chance.

Feb 17, 2013
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BlackBelt5112203 from Michigan

3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle poured into a pint glass at fridge-cellar temperature.

L – Pale straw color with a 2.5-finger frothy, rocky, white head. Really nice retention and some nice patchy lacing. Crystal clear with lots of bubbles. As some sediment gets into the glass, it gains the traditional haze of most wheat beers. This is one of the lightest beers that I’ve ever seen.

S – Smells exactly as advertised – smoked wheat. I’m getting grainy wheat with some coriander yeast aromas, possibly some citrus hops, and definitely a good amount of smoke reminiscent of bacon.

T – The taste is pretty bland up front but flavors start to appear after some time. Ones I can pick out include sweet bready and grainy malts, some spicy yeast (and possibly elements of smoke and hops, too), and a bit of smoke that’s not as prominent as it was in the aroma. Some faint citrus hops come through at the very finish.

F – Light-bodied with good tingling carbonation, a crisp and spritzy mouthfeel, and a sweet, slightly bitter, and crisp finish. Some spicy smoke and bitter citrus hop flavors linger.

O – This is an interesting beer. I really like when breweries recreate these old styles. The aroma is great and exactly what I was expecting. The taste has similar elements but is just very watered down. I wonder if all examples of this style are the same way. At 3.4% ABV, I think it must be tough to impart much of a robust taste. Either way, this is a cool brew and one that I’m glad I got to try.

Feb 07, 2013
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Bung from Michigan

3.48/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

22oz. Whole thing into the oversized Sam Adams glass. It was a fairly clear pour until some sediment slipped in. A dull gold with a thin white head.

Aroma, a nice light smoked wheat malt, citrus zest.

Taste, a nice earthy bitterness followed by some bready malt. Light smoke here through finish. A nice little herbal and less so anise bitterness.

Pretty light bodied, could maybe use a tad more carbonation. Drinks very well and easy. A good amount of flavor in a small brew, the biggest small beer I've had. Worth a try.

Jan 30, 2013
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mattkoon from South Carolina

3.47/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

this westbrook gratzer was recommended by my local beer fella. i like smokey beers and this is an interesting one. ive never had a smokey beer this light. it pours a light cloudy yellow with a white head. the smell is very smokey with a slight sweetness. this beer has a lightness to it that makes it very drinkable. the flavor however is a little on the week side, kind of watery and with the 3.4% abv it doesnt pack enough punch. i wish that it was more flavorful, although it is high on smokiness its week on finish. i will give the guys at wesbrook points for reaching out to the edge with a light drinkable smokey beer. i havnt ever came across one like this. i just wish they would have made it fuller and with more of a punch.

Jan 10, 2013
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thagr81us from South Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared this one during the 2nd Annual Redneck Racin’ & Tastin’ while tailgating at the dirt track race! Served from growler into a NoDa snifter. Poured a hazy pale yellow with a half finger white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, smoke, banana, fruit, and spices. The flavor was of sweet malt, fruit, earth, and smoke. It had a light feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. Some of the people at the tasting were a real big fan of this one, and some others hated it. I was kind of in-between. The flavor on this one was really quite light as compared to some of the other things we had that evening, but it was definitely a nice refresher for the palate and very easy drinking. The aroma was a little more intense without a doubt where the smoke stole the show. An ancient style that you HAVE to try if you like ancient styled brews.

Jun 12, 2012
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jsanford from Georgia

4.67/5  rDev +31.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy yellow with a fluffy white head that fades to a puffy ring in the center and a slight ring around the edge. Aromas is all smoke, and nice, meaty smoke reminiscent of bacon and smoked salmon. My fiancee claims this reminds her of a Bagel-with-lox, and I can definitely see it. Touch of grainy wheat in the aroma as well. Taste is similarly smoky, lots more bacon and fish, but amazingly smooth and refreshing. I'm getting a touch of citrusy hops as well, fitting since it's apparently brewed with "lots of hops". I'd be curious to experience this without the smoke, it'd probably make a nice citrusy Wheat Beer. Anyways. Mouthfeel is crisp and refreshing, with a medium-thin body and good carbonation. Overall another phenomenal "forgotten" beer style from Westbrook. Between this, their Gose, and their smoked Berliner Weisse (Lichtenhainer Weisse), Westbrook has easily become one of the most exciting and unique breweries in the country. I only wonder what's next? Gruit perhaps?

Jun 10, 2012
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avalon07 from South Carolina

4.02/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a growler to a pint glass. Had a pale yellow color and a cloudy consistency. There was a small amount of foamy head that quickly dissipated. Not much lacing.

S: A very smoky aroma, with hints of hops and wheat as well.

T: Tasted of smoked malt, a bit of wheat, hops (more than you might expect), and possibly a little citrus in the finish. The smokiness doesn't overpower the flavor, which is pretty solid. Reminds me of Professor Fritz Briem's Grodziskie.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a crisp, smooth finish. Light-bodied.

O: A well done, slightly odd beer. Drinkable.

May 26, 2012
Grätzer from Westbrook Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 81 out of 100 with 87 ratings