Willy | Alpine Beer Company

52 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company
California, United States

Style: American Pale Wheat Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Willy, named after my brother-in-law’s childhood nickname, is crisp and light-bodied, with a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. The hopping is mild and gentle. It’s perfect for times when you crave a beer utterly refreshing and low in alcohol. A true thirst quencher everyone enjoys.

1.047 OG

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-21-2003

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Reviews: 52 | Ratings: 169
Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.08/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a strange orange/yellow with white head that fades quickly and doesnt leave much lacing.

Smell is very faint and all I can pick up is slight biscut.

Now for the taste. At first sip it almost tastes like your drinking nothing, but the out of no where...WOW. Amazing malt comes through to kick you in the throat. I could see why this beer would be given a C+ average here on BA but I think its a great beer. Its very sessionable and the malt kick is very tasty.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.52/5  rDev +8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Light golden, pretty clear, not much head nor lace.

S - VERY light grass, wheat straw type smell. Not much else.

T - Pleasant enough flavor, matches smell pretty well.

M - Light bodied, ample carbonation, not much to balance.

D - It's hot and this is perfect right now.

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Photo of nickd717
3.23/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber from K&L Redwood City. I was so excited to see Alpine there that I just had to buy this one.

All right, time to Free Willy, or as iTunes' idiotic censorship algorithm puts it, Free W***y. Willy comes out of the bottle looking the color of, well, something that came out of a willy: pee. If not for the fact that it had better head retention than the infamous yellow liquid, I would be a little wary of drinking this. The beer is crystal clear and I don't see much to differentiate it from, say, Budweiser.

The aroma is wheaty, grainy, and subtle. Just a little citrus, without much real hop presence.

The flavor is also very simple. Wheaty and grainy with sweet pale malt and lemon. Very mildly sweet and not very bitter - not much of anything really. This is subtle as all hell.

Very smooth on the mouthfeel. Goes down almost like air. Fairly dry mouthfeel with a body on the lighter side.

Overall, well, I guess it's decent for what it is. Session beer? HELL NO! Not a session beer! There are British people who would kill me for claiming that, being >4.000% ABV. It is sessionable, or successionable, though.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My pour resulted in a finger of foamy, bone-white head with solid retention. Color was a sunshine-yellow with NE-quality clarity. Nose had a light malty sweetness. Mouthfeel was medium with a mild sweetness. The label mentioned "a slightly sweet, nutty flavor." I got the nuttiness on the finish, kind of pecan or almond. This was perfect following a day at Petco Park in the blazing sun.

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Photo of billshmeinke
2.6/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle poured into my Hulk pint glass.

Thin bubbly white head that quickly dies down to a thing ring of foam around the edge of the glass. Extremely pale straw golden yellow in color and completely clear.

Smells almost like a light lager. Nothing really special here.

Tastes kinda like a light lager as well. Some light sweet malts. Mild hop presence on the end. Pretty unimpressive.

Mouthfeel is pretty low bodied with medium carbonation and a nice bite.

So basically this isn't a whole lot better than a light beer. It was kind of a bummer.

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Photo of TexIndy
3.06/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a weizen glass. No dating info but Milt picked this up at the brewery and shipped it so it's fresh. Was a slightly hazy pale yellow color with massive carb streams. It had a good sized white head that settled into a constant small foam cap. Quick sliding lace with some sticking.

The aroma was very weak. Lemon, wheat and not much else. Alpine usually has such good aromas but this one is way off the mark. The taste followed the aroma. Weak with lemon and wheat. The whole thing seems to be dumbed down to just be easy to put down without much consideration on the aroma or taste. It probably has a home but I'm way down the road from this one. Mouthfeel was light and a little watery.

Overall, a miss from an outstanding brewery. Just didn't have anything there to grab onto. Not available here - got shipped as an extra to fill out the box full of Ned's. Rotation - one is enough as they have more more excellent beers to have when out west. [N;N]

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Photo of DoubleJ
1.93/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I'm looking for someting easy to drink tonight, and Willy promises to be the one. 22 ounce bottle, on to the beer:

The head drops quicky to a small plot of thin whitehead on top the beer. Faded golden color, maybe sandy blonde, with a clean filtered body. Yawn. It smells like a cheap macro lager. Sweet corny adjuncts is what I'm getting, odd lemon, funny chemicals, and husky malt. I'm not impressed with the nose.

Why does this have that macro lager corny taste to it? I can't really make out the wheat used in this beer. There's a light floral note, which is nice, but that oversweet yellow corn aftertaste with oddball chemical flavoring added is wipes out the potential of Willy being even a decent thirst buster. Light in the mouth, light carbonation, sort of watery...is this seriously a wheat ale?

Willy is better than some adjunct lagers. But the problem is that Willy is a wheat ale, not an adjunct lager. Better luck next time!

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Photo of hophead247
3.2/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty hazy orange gold, with a medium pearly white head. The aroma was mostly of orange citrus, some tartness, with hints of sweet wheat notes. The flavor was mostly citric, lots of that orange peel, mild wheat flavors, and a touch of candy sugar. Not really your typical wheat flavors, seems more like a Belgian ale or saison to me. Not really complex or interesting at all, just fruity and a bit bland. Wasnt impressed here.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light golden color with a nice white head. The aroma is of a little wheat sweetness and some caramel-type flavors. The taste is quite similar, with a sweet graininess. A little bit of citrus there as well. The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium with moderate levels of carbonation. Drinkability is quite good here. Alpine has the reputation of brewing great hoppy beers, but I was quite impressed with nearly everything else they did as well.

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Photo of mjl21
3.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 ounce bottle purchased from Hi Times. Poured into a Moonlight Brewing Company pint glass. Comes in at 4.9%. No bottling info is given.

A-Pours a clear, light colored straw yellow. It has a one finger almost white colored head that breaks out to a ring fairly quickly.

S-Not very exciting. I get the sweet white wheat malt used in the beer, some grain, and a touch of lemon.

T-It starts with some definite sweetness from the white wheat malt. There is some lemon zest that is evident in every sip and is strong on the finish. It has a grain flavor but it is not coarse or distracting. In between sips the sweetness lingers.

M-It falls on the lighter end of the medium spectrum. I found the carbonation to be a touch too light for me.

D-This is designed to be a lower abv session beer. I can see drinking this if you want to have a few on a hot day. I wouldn't pass it up if offered, but its sweetness would mean I wouldn't actively seek it out.

This is a very accessible beer for those who may not opt for Alpine's hoppy offerings.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.14/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours a moderately translucent gold. Head is mild with good retention, good thick lace.

S: Lemony citrus and wheat malt, bland.

T: Definite direct wheaty pasta flavour initially. Meyer lemon and almonds as well, mild sweetness. Hop character is very light, just a mild noble type hit at the very end just in case you forgot this beer was made in San Diego County.

M: Crisp and refreshing, off-dry finish. Light bodied for sure, but rather a big beer in this category.

D: Prerry standard APWA though with a little more oomph. Would make a solid summertime selection, but not really memorable.

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Photo of Sixofsigmas
3.01/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is a slightly and I mean slightly muddled pale yellow. It's almost clear, but not quite.

Smell is wheat-ish...some sort of faint citrus...lemon most likely

Taste is strangely not overly dominated by wheat. Very mild and indifferent. You can taste that it's a beer lol.

The mouth is bubbly and pleasing.

This beer is very drinkable, but as others have mentioned, it's a summer brew best encountered at the beach or on a hot day.

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Photo of arizcards
3.38/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bomber at the Alpine Frontier Liquor Store in late May.

Beer poured a straw yellow that has good clarity. Small white head remains from initial pour. Nose is non-desript, wheat malt and nothing else. Taste is wheat malt with a hint of vanilla lingering in the back. Mouthfeel is light, moderate carbonation makes it refreshing. Drinkability is pretty good, this is a nice beer for a 103 degree fall day in the desert!

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Photo of seanbhudson
3.64/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear straw/golden color with a large white head. Very little lacing.
Light floral straw/wheat with a hint of sweet caramel.
Light sweet grain and hint of spiciness (like rye) at the end.
Light bodied beer that has a nice mouthfeel. Not dry or watery but finishes a bit crisp. Light fizzy carbonation.
Very easy drinking but not enough flavor to get excited about. Would be good on a hot summer day.

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Photo of tpd975
3.11/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Another day another new beer at Downtown Johnny Brown's San Diego.

A: Pours a somewhat cloudy lemon yellow hue. Foamy white head with good retention. No lace.

S: Rather muted. Very light wheat aroma, not much else.

T: Um, wheat, once again very muted. Expected so much more out of a wheat ale from Alpine.... Come on guys where's the hops? You know hops use at least a touch of them.

M: Light and refreshing.

D: My wife liked it, which true to form means I don't.

I will forget Alpine makes this one and concentrate on the dozen or so other beers that are out of this world good.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, yellow body with a bubbly, white head.

Smell: It's wheaty, lemony, maybe a bit floral.

Taste: Mixture of pale malts and soft, malted wheat. Medium sweetness. Some tart lemon. Mild bitterness. Sweet, lemony finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium-low carbonation.

Drinkability: One of those so-so, average at best kind of beers where, if it weren't for these notes, would be instantly forgettable.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.57/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a growler picked up at the brewery less than a week ago. Pours a clear(unfiltered?) deep straw with a short lived half inch of head. Lacing is likewise light but present, along with a surface ring. Closer to a Kristalweizen in appearance, this beer isn't pretending to foray into the Hefeweizen arena as are many of the style.

Smells of light malt, wheat germ, wet bread dough and a drop of vanilla. I pick up an occasional tiny bit of sour lemony funk. Minor enough that I won't find it if I seek it.

Taste is smooth and crisp with definite wheat on the palate as well as a subtle and light hazelnut in the background. A light sweetness closes with some nondescript fruit flavors. Mouth feel is good as the beer has a light yet decent structure in the finish and a good carbonation. This, along with the light ABV make it quite drinkable, yet not extreme for the style.

A nice non pretentious and subtle ale that likely gets frequented during those hot summer months in Alpine.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks goes out to Bitterbill for this one.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a hazy golden yellow color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy white head, some sticky lacing follows. The nose is malty, yeasty, grassy, some spice, and caramel. The taste is malty/yeasty, some sourness, grass notes, spicy, with some caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, not too bad.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright sunshine yellow with lemonade colored trim. A little haziness would add character, but so far the beer is perfectly clear. The sponge-like crown is polished ivory in color and has an appealing texture. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as though lace will be abundant.

The nose is next to absent (note: warming opens things up just enough for an average score to be granted). That isn't surprising since untoasted wheat and untoasted barley are the only ingredients capable of contributing. A severe shortage of hops (only 4 IBUs) and the use of a non-estery ale yeast strain guarantee olfactory blandness.

Speaking of bland.... that's a perfect word to describe the flavor profile. I'm sure that Alpine was going for something relatively light and easily drinkable, but at some point beer needs to engage the taste buds if a brewery has any plans to sell to craft beer lovers.

Forget hop flavor and hop bitterness because neither one is present. Willy is pretty much a 'showcase' for malted wheat. Each sip delivers nothing more than sweetish cereal grains that taste remarkably fresh and vibrant. That last characteristic is what pushed the flavor score above average. Actually, the sweetness and a vanilla bean quality make it taste more like a cream ale than a pale wheat.

I'm aware that the styles are different, but Willy is what Budweiser and Miller High Life would taste like in a perfect world. I take back the word 'bland' (at least with regard to the flavor). The beer is extremely simple, but it's also pretty good if one has the right mindset. Just don't pair it with food, because what flavor exists would then disappear completely.

The body/mouthfeel is as it should be. It's closer to medium than light, with an impressive amount of 'hang on' and carbonation that is right on the money. Keeping ale in contact with taste buds for a fraction longer helps the flavor make a positive impression.

Willy isn't impressive beer by any means, but that doesn't mean that it isn't good beer. It's grown on me quite a bit from start to (almost) finish and is an offering that I hope Alpine continues to brew. Just think of it as Pure Hoppiness's polar opposite.

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Photo of errantnight
2.48/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

#2 in my quest to try The Other Alpine Beers Which Are Not Pure Hoppiness... and equally, if not more, disappointing than the last.

Pours a pale, slightly hazy straw with minimal head and no lacing.

Smell is initially a bit musty and tangy, amidst a grainy corn character.

Tastes... like a bad mix between a mediocre pilsner and an American Wheat. Which makes it out to be worse than it sounds... it's kinda neutral and non-terrible, pretty much what one would expect from an American Wheat of no particular distinction. Flavor is a bit muddled by a cooked corn note, particularly early, but it's pretty clean, medium to light bodied, crisp, largely inoffensive. The corn is just a bit much, and it ultimately intrudes on the grain and wheat characters, which are also pretty straightforward. No hop character to speak of except as part of an appropriate balance.

I'd expect a beer of this caliber from a "nothing-special" local brewpub, or as a reasonable home-brew... not from a brewery capable of so much more. Don't bother.

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Photo of Bitterbill
1.55/5  rDev -52.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

I bought this from South Bay D & L. Thanks Joey!

This pours a slightly hazy straw gold with a good 2 finger head of foam with some nice lacing. Pretty good head retention.

The smell is of wheat, lemon, some spice, and something else that resembles Brett but kind of...wait for it...also resembles a fart. That's what my nose buds are saying, folks. Don't blame me.

The taste is very lemony. It over powers the other flavours which I note as being wheat and an earthiness. Weird tasting for the style and not something that I'd say I'm enjoying. It's light bodied and it finishes very watery. Yuck. I don't think I'll be able to finish the bottle...

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Photo of mikesgroove
2.76/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz Bomber served right out of the fridge and poured into a Pint Glass

A – Poured a very nice and crystal clear amber color with a very nice three finger high head of fizzy and foamy white froth across the top. Very nice retention as this hung around for a good few moments before finally settling down into a thin pillow of white the reached across the entire top of the glass and started to coat the sides. Very nice carbonation as there were streams of visible bubbles coming from the bottom of the glass and racing towards the top to reinforce the foam across the top. As the contents of the glass went down there was some nice side glass lace that started to become visible and drip down the sides of the glass giving it a rather nice look for a pale lager.

S – The aroma was very musty and just chock full of malts. This had to be one of the strongest aromas of musty bread that I have ever smelled coming off a brew. To be honest it set me back a little bit as I was not expecting it to be so strong of an aroma. Some other hints inside alluded to lots of grains, and a somewhat muted, but still present smell of apricots, very clear with this smell, and not really sure where it was coming from, but it was definitely there, but suppressed by the large dose of malty bread coming through.

T – Now again I have to be honest an upfront, this was not my favorite thing in the world that I have ever tried. That being said I can proceed. The flavor seemed old to me, like, I know this seems weird, but a sweaty gym sock, if you know what I mean you can figure where it went from there, if not, it was a very musky, almost moldy type of taste with a somewhat muted but still bitter aftertaste, but not really in a good way. It did not taste “skunked” or bad really, just a style and a flavor I do not care for. There were hints of apricots again, and a ton of bread and other malts inside, but to be honest, it just was not there for me. I am not sure just what it was, but every sip seemed a little more painful then the next, so I just chugged the rest of it.

M – Very light bodied ale, with more then ample carbonation; this was definitely trying to be a light crisp refreshing sort of drink. Now had it not been for the taste, it would have pulled that off just about perfectly, as the feel was light, well carbonated, and crisp and clean. It was the flavor that really threw me off and made it quite unpleasant.

D – Now this is a loaded question. On one hand, it is low ABV, crisp, clean and well carbonated with a very light body. Now all of this would lend itself to being a very sessionable ale with loads of drinkability potential. For me though the flavor just killed it. Again it’s hard for me to describe, but it was just a musky old type of flavor that I just did not find enjoyable.

Overall I was sad that this did not turn out as well as I had hoped. I really did think this was going to be quite good and actually was going to try and get some to have as it seemed like it would be perfect to enjoy while watching a game or something, but the flavor was just not up to my tastes. It’s a shame to as I have loved everything coming out of Alpine so far, just not this one. But you know what; I try so many new things I am bound to find one I do not like. I am still glad I tried it though, different, just not my thing.

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Photo of rallison
3.06/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Slightly hazy light golden color with mostly no head.

S: Citrusy with a slight toasted character. There is also a touch of diacetyl as well, unfortunately.

T: Relatively light flavor with citrusy hops and a decent touch of toasted malts. Diacetyl is slightly present in a sweet, buttery presence. Decent, but nothing special.

M: Decent. Lighter body with medium carbonation.

D: Decent. It's easy enough to drink, but the flavor does get a bit boring.

Overall, meh. Nothing really drew me back to this. It's ok, but I really don't see buying this again. Maybe, without the diacetyl. But, as is, it is flawed and a bit too simple.

Edit: Man, the diacetyl is getting annoying.

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Photo of franksnbeans
3.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy straw color with a minimal white soapy head. Nothing much in the nose, a little grain and a hint of sweet malt. A minor nut flavor then the rest is corn like. Very minimal taste. Thin in the mouth but not crisp. Drinkable if you want something very light and flavorless.

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Photo of seaoflament
3.63/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear light yellow with minimal amount of foam. Smells of sweet wheat malt, cherry, lemons, and a nutty aroma. Quite a different wheat beer that’s for sure. The taste is sweet upfront and nutty in the finish, it’s interesting. Beer is refreshing, crisp and light, would be a good one to have on a lazy hot weekend.

Yes, it's bottled now.

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Willy from Alpine Beer Company
3.26 out of 5 based on 169 ratings.
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