Saint Louis brewery Perennial was founded in September 2011 by former Chicagoan Phil Wymore, who’d previously managed the barrel program at Goose Island and then served as head brewer at Half Acre for a spell. His wife, Emily, and her father, Russ Bryant, help run the business, and on the brewing side Wymore has taken on Cory King, who used to manage the International Tap House in the Soulard neighborhood of Saint Louis.

Perennial got my attention this summer with Fantastic Voyage (a strong milk stout made with coconut) and an excellent peach Berliner weisse. So in late October I picked up a bottle of the Heart of Gold wheat wine when the 2012 batch (the second overall and first with this label) hit stores. Heart of Gold won a silver medal in “Other Strong Beer” at last month’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver. There were 55 entries in that category, one of 84 at the festival; the gold went to Boulevard’s Reverb Imperial Pilsner, in a good showing for Missouri.

Wheat wine is a newish style, having arisen in America (probably California) at some point in the past three or four decades. (Home brewers are almost certainly responsible, which makes it difficult to be precise.) It’s about as strong as the comparatively ancient barleywine style—Heart of Gold is 10 percent alcohol, at the low end of the typical range—but wheat malt accounts for more than half of its grain bill.

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid, and he’s also split two national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and one in in 2020 for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.