Beer Review 0143: Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Wild Ale

Yeah, it’s been over a week since I have done a review. I’ve been a bit under the weather lately, and beer drinking wasn’t part of the recovery process. But never fear, I’m back, and with a brew I’ve been excited to try for quite a while…

You might remember back in January when I reviewed Lagunitas (pronounced LAH-GOO-KNEE-TUSS) A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ — an American Wheat Ale produced “with as many varieties of hop that start with the letter ‘C’ you can imagine.” I rated this beer 92 points, which is outstanding on my point scale. In fact, I even called it “liquid art,” for the sheer fact that it was so balanced and incredibly drinkable.

Enter today’s beer, A Little Sumpin’ Wild, which is Sumpin’ Sumpin’ brewed with Lagunitas own Belgian yeast strain. This is a limited release from the Petaluma, California brewery — which is soon opening a second brewery in Chicago — sent out to retailers each July.

How will the Belgian yeast change the beer, for the better, or for the worse? Well…

The pour issued up a classic golden beer, topped by an average size, frothy and billowing head that pillowed over top of the glass, lasting in quality. The body of the liquid was slightly cloudy, as it was filled with a very light dusting of particles and sediment. A fair amount of lacing was left behind each sip, with some thin pods desperately clinging to the glass.

Little Sumpin’ Wild featured a nice, complex aroma — the nose is initially greeted with a big hit of classic pink bubblegum and clove, smacking of the Belgian yeast this one is brewed with. There is some clove present as well as a hint of coriander; diving into the malts features caramel and grain, with a touch of biscuit. There’s a citrus note here, slightly bittersweet, rounding things out. Very appealing and makes you ready for a sip…

And on the taste, the initial flavors are wheat grain, bubblegum, some clove, and a hint of orange. The mouthfeel was creamy and foamy, with a soft carbonation that edged into the finish, which starts off sweet with a touch of caramel, and then turns fairly bitter with an orange flavor very similar to, well… orange juice. There’s a slight alcohol warmth on the swallow, and the orange rind/peel lingers for quite a while.

Final verdict? This is an interesting take on Sumpin’ Sumpin’, but the Belgian yeast does not make this better than the original. While the flavors might be a little more complex, drinkability suffers. That might be partly due to the fact that this beer is 9.4% ABV (alcohol by volume) versus 7.5% on the regular Sumpin’ Sumpin’ — but I feel like the introduction of the Belgian yeast plays a larger role in reduced drinkability than the higher alcohol content.

That’s not to say this isn’t a good beer, because it is. But when you’ve got a damn tasty and oh so drinkable brew like Sumpin’ Sumpin’, the Wild version relegates itself to an every once in a while change of pace. Which might explain its limited edition status.

Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Wild Ale, 87 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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