I'm revisiting this old favorite for a couple of reasons. I recently did a beer trade with a Jay in California. I'm not sure if he's ever had the Gumballhead Wheat, and second, this just may be THE "Gateway" beer that I use to convert people to buying craft beer.
Over at ratebeer.com, this beer gets a 96/100. That is pretty damn good for a "wheat" beer.
I first had this beer in April of 2007 when I attended Dark Lord Day. At the time, it was a summer seasonal beer brewed by Three Floyds. Now I can get it at my local Jewel grocery store year-round. I remember another guy in line tasting the beer and speaking as though he was reading my mind with the first taste: "Wow, this almost tastes like an IPA, although it is a bit lemony." Later (about halfway through the beer): "Wow, that really mellowed."
Yes, I do believe still that it is a sensational beer, even though the surprise has somehow worn down. This is one of my favorite smelling beers. I could walk around the house all day with this under my nose. It's loaded with Amarillo hops, which give it a really big hop nose, along with the wheat yeast, which gives it a nice bubblegum background aroma.
I have a friend at work who I would get to try hoppy beers just to see him pucker up and watch his nose freak out. One Friday after work, we stopped by a local liquor store in Michigan City, King Richard's (which we refer to as "Little Richard's") to check out their beer selection. He wanted some help.
I told him to get a sixer of the Gumballhead.
I said, "Take this home and make sure it is nice and cold. Then, seriously, pour it in a glass. Look at how great it looks. Then stick your nose in it. You will want to walk around the house all day smelling this (yeah, I know, I'm redundant). When you drink it, it's going to knock you down with the hoppiness. Stick with it, when you get about halfway, it's going to mellow. You're gonna like it."
He called me about 3 hours later and said, "It's just like you said it would be!" About two months later, he was drinking high-hopped ales like Three Floyd's Alpha King and Bell's Two Hearted Ale. Dude really likes Imperial Stouts and Double/Imperial IPAs now.
Gateway, I'm telling you. Gateway beer.