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Chicagoist's Beer of the Week: Metropolitan's Zwickel Flywheel

By Jason Baldacci in Food on Aug 23, 2013 6:20PM


With the weather forecast looking like summer is actually going to stick around for a little while longer, we're looking to a beer that can quench our thirst on the hot days to come.

The good folks at Metropolitan Brewing Co. brew their Flywheel Lager all year long, but recently, they've kegged off a special version of their mainstay under the name Zwickel Flywheel. The normal Flywheel is described as a bright lager. It's crisp, bready, and incredibly refreshing. For the zwickel version, Metropolitan has essentially skipped a step of their process and chosen not to filter the beer, leaving in yeast and proteins that would normally be stripped out of the beer before it's sent to market. As a result, the Zwickel Flywheel is cloudy, where the regular version is quite translucent, but that lack of filtration adds a great dash of character. Like the regular Flywheel, we see some nice, pillowy carbonation in the zwickel, but it's accentuated along with a silkier texture than we're used to. The bready malts are as present as ever, possibly even more so, and the mid-palate is speckled with notes of fresh hay and lemon rind. Towards the finish, there's a wonderful pop of earthy spice and floral perfume that we picked up from the hops they use. At 5 percent alcohol content, Zwickel Flywheel is a beer to enjoy all day long, and possibly even after the sun goes down.

Zwickel beers are an old, German tradition, but we don't see very many of them on this side of the Atlantic. Being very light in body and alcohol content, as well as unfiltered, these beers are meant to be consumed as fresh as possible and will notably change over time, even more so than many other styles of beer. Very few breweries even make them anymore, and the ones that do rarely bother to export them since it's very difficult to guarantee freshness when they're shipping from thousands of miles away, and the product also has to clear customs. While Metropolitan's Zwickel Flywheel may not be an entirely traditional representation of this style, it's a great beer, and we're personally very happy that the brewery has applied this traditional method to one of their beers for us thirsty Chicagoans to have a chance to experience a zwickel without buying a plane ticket. The brewery sent this beer out on July 30th, and they recommend drinking it no longer than four to six weeks after it was kegged, so get it while you still can.

Due to the nature of the beer and the importance of freshness, Zwickel Flywheel is only available on draft, so check to see who still has some available. If you miss out this time, we recommend drinking as much regular Flywheel as you can over the next year until the zwickel version is available again come next summer.