Embrace The WitRefreshing, flavorful and clean
August 2, 2017
By Jeff Gredlein | The Beer Snob
Wheat beers come in a variety of types, but the majority of original styles come from either Germany or Belgium. Regardless of country, the styles have in common the requirement that about 50 percent of the malt bill must be made up of wheat. The Germans boast several varieties of weizen beer, including hefeweizen, dunkelweizen, and weizenbock. The Belgians really have only one style, Witbier.
In the case of American made wheat beers, it seems our brewers favor the Belgian wit style as opposed to the German hefe variety. Sure, there are numerous examples of native hefeweizens, but looking at the bulk numbers, American brewed witbiers win the day. Not to mention, the majority of the hefeweizens brewed here are made by breweries that have mostly been in decline as the craft beer swell continues to build. The likes of Saranac, Yuengling, Pyramid, Magic Hat and Widmer all make German style wheat beers, but I suggest sticking with the Deutschland originals.
In comparison, there are a number of fantastic yank-made Belgian style witbiers that are worth your while. I’m assuming you’ve crossed paths with Blue Moon Belgian White, a Coors product, Shock Top Belgian White, from Anheuser-Busch, and Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat, a subsidiary of Miller. Avoid – all are macro examples, all are too sweet, and all are crap.
Better examples abound. Ommegang’s Witte is tasty, spicy and with notes of flowers and pepper. Calabaza Blanca from Jolly Pumpkin is also solid, if not slightly more malty than normal with hints of ginger joining the typical wit flavors. Boulevard Brewing’s Two Jokers is fantastic, cranking the typical 5 percent alcohol by volume range to a boisterous 8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Even wilder is Dogfish Head’s Positive Contact, a Belgian-style with fuji apples, cider and cilantro, checking in at 9 percent ABV.
The most widely available and possibly still the best American brewed Belgian-style witbier is White, the sensational example from Allagash. This really is a first-rate ale, one you must have.
The bottle depicts an artistic winding, tree-lined river scene, and directs one to pour the majority of the beer into a glass, swirl the last bit of beer and yeast, and add the remainder. A cloudy lemon yellow body sits underneath a bright white foamy head, which quickly drops to a dusting on the beer.
The aroma is delicate but intricate, with yeast, lemon zest and a spicy note that I assume is coriander. Taste is also gentle yet multifaceted, with tangy wheat segueing into sharp lemon and orange fruit flavors. A tingle of tiny bubbles hit the tip of the tongue, but smoothes out as the beer crosses the mouth. A very dry finish in this ale, being more tart from the wheat and citrus, than bitter from hops.
A fresh beer, and easy to drink at 5 percent ABV. Available year round, but perfect for the dog days of summer, Allagash White is refreshing, flavorful and clean! Enjoy the brews … Cheers.
Gene’s Haufbrau has at more than 200 beers in bottles or on tap. While they don’t have every beer the Beer Snob writes about, they probably have most. E-mail the Beer Snob at firstname.lastname@example.org.