Craft stalwart Founders Brewing Co. kept it in-house for its latest release, working with the brewery’s minority owner Mahou San Miguel to craft a brand new offering. The Spanish brewery team brought its lager-brewing prowess to match Founders’ affinity for hops. The resulting beer is a hoppy lager—a hoppy wheat lager, to be exact—called Trigo, the Spanish word for wheat.
Not only is Trigo a rare collaboration effort for Founders, it is also the brewery’s 2018 ArtPrize beer, brewed to support Founders’ sponsorship of the nonprofit. The sixth ArtPrize beer released annually, Trigo is itself an example of art in brewing.
Founders kept it in the family for Trigo’s label art as well. The design by Founders taproom chef and artist Cody Levon features a Spanish woman holding a red carnation, the national flower of Spain. In the glass, Trigo is vibrant and bright. A big bubbly white head forms and fades on top of the straw-yellow body. As with most wheat beers, Trigo laces beautifully with white foam clinging stubbornly to the sides of the glass.
Lest you think Trigo is a typical Spanish lager, the Founders influence is present immediately in the aroma. Huge hits of pure hoppiness emanate from the glass. A byproduct of the Simcoe, Mosaic, and Comet dry hop, notes of blueberry, peach, and pine complement the sweet smell of wheat. An earthy, herbal quality cleans up the aroma and hints at the depth of flavor to come.
The successful merger of this distinct hoppy flavor with the delicacy of a Spanish lager is what makes Trigo shine.”
Trigo begins each sip light and soft like a lager, with an easy airiness that brings almost nothing of note at all. But the hops quickly begin to do their work with earthy, floral, herbal, and bright lemon flavors popping in succession. With each subsequent taste, the light body and hoppy flavors combine in what is absolutely the best aspect of the beer. As its wealth of flavor fades, the beer leaves you with a sweet wheat aftertaste. And despite the slightly bumped up 6.3% ABV, Trigo remains light and drinkable without a hint of boozy heat.
Trigo hits all of the requisite clean and drinkable qualities of a good lager, with the added complexity and flavor only a hefty dose of hops can bring. The successful merger of this distinct hoppy flavor with the delicacy of a Spanish lager is what makes Trigo shine. It’s a melody of hoppiness over a crisp lager, a truly difficult combination to achieve.