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Beer for Skiers: Wowza! Lo-cal Hazy Pale Ale

A beer that first defies, then meets, expectations.

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First impressions can be deceiving. Take, for instance, the latest beer from Deschutes Brewery. Wowza! calls itself a low calorie—or lo-cal, if you’re hip—hazy pale ale with only 100 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, and a 4% ABV.

As SKI is based in Colorado, it seems not that long ago that our grocery stores only carried the despised 3.2% ABV versions of beer, fooling tourists and giving residents a superiority complex since they knew that the full-strength suds could only be found in liquor stores. Now, just like in most other states, every Colorado corner store can carry regular beer, giving locals one more reason to be less pretentious. Yet a number of craft breweries are now releasing lo-cal, low-ABV (or even no-ABV) beers. Some are good, some are meh, but all of them seem like a step towards slightly more-sober après-ski sessions.

For this reason, I have to admit I judged Wowza! by its label, looking down on its low numbers as if it could barely be considered beer. I have been to the Deschutes Public House in Bend, Ore., and really love many of their other offerings (Red Chair NWPA is one beer I look forward every winter), yet I still found myself on a proverbial high horse when it came to a beer so flauntingly calling itself “lo-cal.”

Mt. Bachelor, Ore.
Just up the road from the Deschutes Public House is Mt. Bachelor.Photo courtesy of Mt. Bachelor

But, being willing to try every beer at least once, I cracked one of the trippy cans to find a pleasantly strong, hoppy aroma on par with regular ales with ABVs higher than 6%. The taste is also comparable with other hazy pale ales, with sweet citrus and berry notes that even out the hop-forward flavors. I especially appreciate the light, crisp finish of the beer that so many “hazies” get wrong, regardless of their calorie count. There’s no oily residue or cotton-mouth aftertaste with Wowza!

“We’ve been listening to consumers asking for lo-cal, lo-carb, and less filling beers that still taste great,” says Neal Stewart, vice president of marketing at Deschutes, in a press release. “[We] pulled all the stops to get it in cans as fast as possible!”

The secret of this lo-cal hazy pale ale is the use of Chicory Root, a natural inulin fiber, which reduces the amount of calorie-dense malt used in the brewing process. Combined with Citra, Simcoe, Cashmere, and Callista hops and pilsner, wheat, oat, and acidulated malts, Wowza! provides a full flavor profile worthy of anyone who likes to drink beer.

As for me, I still find myself surprised by how much I enjoyed a beer that puts so many small numbers on the label. (In fact, I think I said “Wowza!” out loud after the first sip.) And, for basketball fans, Wowza! is the presenting sponsor of the Portland Trail Blazers radio network and can be found on tap at the Moda Center. For the rest of us, Deschutes designed a beer finder on their website to help locate where to find Wowza! and the rest of their delicious brews.

Deschutes Brewery Wowza! Notes:

Wowza Can
  • Beer type: Lo-Cal Hazy Pale Ale
  • Flavor Profile: Subtle citrus notes and a hop-forward aroma join flavors of candied orange, passion fruit, and blackberry with a crisp, light finish.
  • ABV: 4%, IBUs: NA
  • Pairs well with: Basketball, dry-ish Januaries, open minds
  • Hops: Citra, Simcoe, Cashmere, Callista
  • Malts: Pilsner, wheat, oat, acidulated
  • Special Ingredient: Chicory Root
  • More Info: