Wheach Beer

O'Fallon Brewery; 636-474-2337 or www.ofallonbrewery.com. Available at grocery stores throughout the area.

O'Fallon Brewery

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The English language is remarkable. Who'd have thunk ten years ago that a word like "crunk" would exist, and that this glorious, onomatopoetically accurate signifier would spread through the lexicon with such reckless abandon?

Or Wheach Beer. Genius! Such precision. Such derring-do. Such simplicity. And the mascot on the yellow and orange label? Totally weird, and brilliant: a peach-head with inverted hearts for eyes. "The Pac Man-Wheach Man," clarifies O'Fallon Brewery owner Tony Caradonna.

"It was Fran's idea," he admits, with a hint of sorrow that it was his wife's concept and not his. The husband, however, came up with the whole "Wheach" notion two years ago. Last summer the beer's debut was a resounding success. "It sold out real quick," he brags.

The seed of the idea for Wheach came after the popularity of O'Fallon's fall seasonal, an ace pumpkin ale and Drink of the Week favorite. "We wanted to match up another flavor with another season. Our unfiltered wheat — which won a bronze medal at the GABF [Great American Beer Festival], by the way — that's the base beer for the peach wheat, or Wheach." He and brewmaster Brian Owens started playing around with flavors. Tony suggested peach. They did a couple of test batches and liked what they tasted. "A couple drinking sessions later, we came up with the name Wheach, and that stuck. Everybody still liked it after a few days, so we said, ‘OK, that's what it's going to be called: Wheach.'"

The beer's as good as the name — no small feat. By itself, wheat is a perfect summer beer. Light enough to thwart sweaty armpits, heavy enough to satisfy the taste buds, it enriches the mouth with an unapologetic sweetness, the ale-equivalent of a bite of fresh corn on the cob. The brewers add a little peach flavoring to the beer just before the end of fermentation, which fills it with a luscious (but not syrupy) dose of nectar.

Elsewhere on the O'Fallon front — we're big fans of the humble but award-winning little brewery — Tony reports that the flagship pale ale, O'Fallon Gold, is available at the new Busch Stadium. Drink of the Week was a little worried that the Empire of Bud would stomp all competitors at the relocated ballpark. Which it has, of course. But it's nice to know that a piece of the action (albeit the tiniest crumb of a mile-high pie) is still given to the underdogs. Elaborates Caradonna: "Bottles only, right behind home plate at a place called the Backstop Lounge."

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