As soon as I laid eyes on the yellow wax of Gizmo’s Queen Bee Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Honey Wheat, I knew it was meant to be(e). Yeah… That was pretty bad…
Whenever you put wax on the bottle cap, you’re declaring to the world, “This beer is worth the 30 extra seconds of effort it’s going to take to crack it open.” As if the Queen Bee’s wax wasn’t enough… you don’t see the words “Bourbon Barrel Aged” or “Imperial” used to describe a wheat beer very often. I always appreciate it when extra effort/emphasis is placed on the packaging of a high dollar craft brew, and I also appreciate when creative elements are used to augment a classic style without going overboard (I’m looking at you Smoked Imperial Nacho Cheese & Prosciutto Beignet Porter). In short, I’m pumped about this one.
The Queen Bee pours a cloudy, yellowish orange with a thin, lacy head that recedes almost as quickly as it appears. The aroma has the banana and clove qualities that are customary of a proper wheat but also has extra sweetness from the honey and vanilla from the barrel aging. Unlike the barrel aged varietals of other styles, the qualities imparted by the oak add a mellow element that make this beverage even more inviting.
The flavor of Queen Bee is anchored by a solid base of sweet honey. The honey gives this wheat a viscous, velvety body that sticks to your tongue in the way only honey can. The sweetness from the Queen Bee’s honey is woken up (I woke up like dis?) by a citrusy tinge of orange. The bourbon barrel aging mellows the profile with vanilla, baking spices, and light oak. It’s impressive how cohesive these elements are together given the novelty of the idea.
Queen Bee is one of the most enjoyable wheat beers I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. Flavorful, complex, well-balanced, creative… this royal jelly has it all. It’s refreshing to experience a take on the wheat style that isn’t overwhelmingly fruity or stereotypically ridden with coriander and orange peel. Cheers to Gizmo for elevating this style in the best way!
- Appearance: Cloudy, yellowish orange
- Aroma: Banana, clove, honey, vanilla
- Flavor: Sweet honey, orange, vanilla, baking spice, light oak
- Mouthfeel: Medium plus, viscous, velvety
- ABV: 9.0%
- Size/Price: 22 oz. / $13-$15
- Score: 90