Wheat Wine Evaluation
Mine has less carbonation. In a beer this big (around 11%) a little more prickle actually helps. But I hate spritzy, over-carbed barley wines so I played it safe and really underprimed mine. No biggy.
Smutty's is definitely a shade darker. Not sure why that is, except that I used all or nearly all Golden Promise for the non-wheat base malt and that's a really pale malt. Plenty of other explanations--boil time, malt suppliers, etc.
Mine smells tasty. The dry and late hopping swings pretty fruity. I hopped it with Amarillo and Crystal and I think the Crystal particularly can get almost bubble-gum fruity sometimes. I didn't copy Smuttynose's hopping because that seemed silly and slavish. I just made something up that I thought would be appropriate for a wheat wine, looking more toward fruity/floral hops than piney ones I guess.
The nose on the Smutty has a little more pine going on, but is still relatively elegant and subtle.
Mine's a decent beer, but it really doesn't hold up. The key flaw is the kind of overly fruity, somewhat tangy palate. I suppose that could be an overly hot fermentation, or a very mild infection or off-yeast (it's hardly sour, but something's just a little funky).
In contrast, the Smutty is velvet from start to finish. I guess the wheat adds a paradoxical lightness to what is really a giant beer, a little bit of a fluffy je ne sais quoi . . . It's a weird style in that sense. Oak chips leave a nice, subtle mark on this particular example too, adding an extra dimension beyond pure hops and alcohol. I might also note that, while David Yarrington says the hops are designed primarily to just barely balance the beer, this is still a pretty damned hoppy beer. There's a really firm, almost steely intensity to the initial bitterness. Anyway, I'm impressed by it overall.
I don't know if I'll brew a wheat wine again. Given the limited amount of time for big beers and the shortage of bottle space and whatnot, I'd rather brew a more traditional barley wine probably 9 out of 10 times. We'll see. But if it's something I return to, I suspect I'll be hard pressed to find a better model.