AMIDST AN EXEMPLARY field of highly-hopped West Coast IPAs, Lagunitas’ A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is tweaked just enough to stand out. Deriving 50% of its grain base from wheat, the beer would technically slot into the American pale wheat ale category alongside the likes of Bell’s Oberon, Goose Island’s 312, or Three Floyd’s Gumballhead. Yet while many in that style kowtow to the ‘easy-drinking’ dictum of summer with meager Hefeweizen derivatives, Lagunitas stayed true to form with a beer of 7.5% ABV and 64 IBUs. Despite that muscular profile, Sumpin’ is still streamlined enough to be dangerously quaffable.
Clarity is exceptional, showing off strong carbonation that continues to bubble long after the honey golden pour into the glass. The head foams delicately, pale and fragile as egg whites, and the lacing is sprawling and sticky. On the nose Sumpin’ is West Coast all the way, heavy up front on piney Centennial resin then giving way to the grapefruit bloom of Cascade. Other C-hops are assured.
After such generous aromas the beer has an unexpectedly airy mouthfeel. Moderately light-bodied and fairly high in carbonation, it’s as uncluttered and transparent as a 60+ IBU beer can be. There’s no skimping in the flavor, though, where sweeter malts like caramel play against tangerine, honeysuckle, and lavender. The lightness of the wheat prevents any cloying hang-ups anywhere on the palate and ensures a highly refreshing clean finish. Alcohol slickness is a little present later on, though more as texture compatible with the hop resins than a flavor. Yes, the aftertaste is rather bitter, but it takes its time in growing from the back of the palate and never upsets the delicate balance on the tip of the tongue. All in all A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is rightly is lauded as the benchmark brew for American Wheat Ales, top of its class, and perhaps even appealing to those who usually avoid hoppy brews. And Lagunitas almost makes it seem easy.
Served: 12 oz bottle