AT LEAST IT WASN’T a case of contaminated draft lines. At Goose Island’s Wrigleyville pub the menu draws on typical Witbier verbage to describe Half Wit, then almost off-handedly mentions ‘a touch of tartness’. The waitress also suggested it for its cleaner finish than Wrigleyville White, the companion Wit on their menu. As it turns out, though, Half Wit is Witbier gone rogue, possibly including wild yeast and definitely brewed with lactobacillus. Thus misrepresented the beer was handicapped from the start, especially since its sourness is so cloaked at the outset. Pouring a standard medium gold with a few sudsy traces of a large-bubbled head, Half Wit in the glass suggests vanilla, lemongrass, and relatively little of the Witbier staple coriander. The palate follows through with the lemongrass, firstly, then honors its foundation with clear notes of wheat, tangerine, and at last a pinch or two of spice. After a few swallows, though, that suggestion of vanilla develops into persistent lactic sourness that eventually becomes an overpowering presence in the finish. Even the mouthfeel seems to swell from moderate-light to medium and the carbonation, already none too high for a soured ale, loses some of its cleansing power. So perhaps Half Wit was a fair name, as it is neither a robustly sour ale nor a ho-hum American imitation Wit. But lacking the best either style has to offer, Halfway would have been the better descriptor.
Served: On tap (Goose Island Wrigleyville, Chicago)