Tag Archive: Belgium Style Witbier


Ægir Bryggeri: Witbier (Norway: Belgian Style Wit: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice. Thin white head – mainly sud bubbles. Low carbonation.

Nose: Lemon. Pineapple juice. Coriander. Wheat. Dry. Meringue.

Body: Dry. Lemon juice and lemon curd. Cinnamon. Coriander. Carrot. Traditional lemonade. Light greenery. Palma violets. Slight cardboard.

Finish: Carrot. Dry. Wheat. Greenery. Cardboard. Palma violets. Menthol. Lime. Orange zest.

Conclusion: This seems very dry for a wit – feels quite highly attenuated, which is a mixed blessing here. It leans the beer away from the overly sweet popular interpretation and gives a good platform for fresh lemon flavour to come through. That element, combined with the dry base, makes for a pleasant mouth refresher in the mid body. It also lets the spice work delicately, it can be a rounding note rather than having to be pushed up to fight with a sweet base – coriander and carrot on the savoury side, and cinnamon dusted doughnuts on the slightly sweeter edges.

So with that said, what is working against it? Well the dryness also has characteristics similar to an over attenuated America Pale Ale – it gets slightly harsh near the end of the body and brings out an unpleasant cardboard like element in the finish. It is that finish that really hurts it – while the dryness can introduce weaker elements in the rest of the beer, they are usually contrasted by very well done elements. In the finish there is little redeeming to contrast the flaws. A pity, as shown by the first paragraph there is a lot of good in this beer but the finish just stomps on it.

So, it has promise, but really needs to work on the dryness balance as it really lets itself down in overtime (AKA the finish). I would recommend they keep trying though, as this feels like if the brewers keep pushing at it, it could be fine tuned to something very nice.

Background: OK, I grabbed this one because it is from Norway – we don’t see many of their beers over here, and they tend to be fairly solid. I went for their Wit as you don’t see that many of them comparatively, and it is a solid beer style, done here without and fancy craft twists. Felt it would be a good way to get a handle on the brewery. I was surprised by the can – the ring pull takes the entire top of the can off, more like a soup can kind of ring pulls. Drunk while listening to a mix made up of my most listened to tracks, so definitely ones I would enjoy for this beer session :-). This was grabbed from Independent Spirit of Bath.

Omnipollo 42 Passion Fruit and Lime Witbier

Omnipollo: 42 Passion Fruit and Lime Witbier (Sweden: Belgian Style Wit: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy lemon juice. Massive loose fragile white bubbled head.

Nose: Crisp. Light kiwi. Slightly soured. Wheat and lightly earthy. Lemon juice. Coriander.

Body: Lightly tart. Shredded wheat. Moderate bitterness. Light kiwi. Tart lime. spirtzy feel like a touch of white wine.

Finish: Squeezed lemon and lime. Shredded wheat. Sour dough. Kiwi. Solid bitterness. Dried passion fruit. White wine dryness.

Conclusion: Would this beer work better if the base beer was more rounded before you started adding the extra ingredients in? Hard to say, but it does feel like the underlying wit has been either neglected, or hidden by the fruit. The base beer isn’t bad, but it doesn’t seem to have anywhere near the character a top end wit should have.

It has a solid, if somewhat leaden hopped bitterness, and a slightly cloying sourness, but the usual tart character and spice is very muted and lacking from the beer. The fruit does add a bit to help offset that. While muted the fruit is there, especially creating a kiwi kind of note in the interactions, and it is this that gives most of the flavour where the base is lacking.

By doing this it does become a passable wit, refreshing due to the sour, slightly cloyed nature, and the flavour comes from the fruit backing. It is evident though that the quirk is basically propping up the wit though.

So, it comes in as drinkable, in fact that is the most impressive quality. It is very easy to drink, but not especially impressive. Still at least it avoids going the over sweet route that a lot of shoddy wit’s go for. An ok beer , but not much above that.

Background: This is how easy I am to sell to. I see a bottle with no label on the front. I look at it, I see it only has the (pictured) label on the back. I buy it. I have no willpower. So, a wit made with Passion fruit and key lime, part of Omnipollo’s “Magic Numbers” small batch series. This is my first experience with Omnipollo, so I’m hoping they will be good. Picked up from Independent Spirit, which is probably a surprise to no one by now.

St Bernardus Wit

St Bernardus: Wit (Belgium: Belgian Wit Bier: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice. Medium white bubbled head.

Nose: Wheaty. Lemon and grapefruit juice. Dry spices, with a pepper touch. Funky yeast. Milk. Acidic apple.

Body: Lemon curd and meringue. Sparkling feel and fizzy. Elderberry and sour grapes. Grapefruit. White wine. Turmeric.

Finish: Elderberry. Dry finish. Muesli. Sour white grapes. Wet oak.

Conclusion: I remember trying this one many a year ago and not being much of a fan of it. Odd how time changes things. This is a very drying wit beer, much more so than most takes I have encountered – there is a lot of tart, refreshing, fruit notes, but sharply done so they head out leaving you drier than when they came in. The beer’s obsession with grapefruit and sour grape notes make me think of NZ hops, though I doubt they were used here, probably a case of parallel evolution and all that.

Despite being so drying it does make for a very refreshing wit, it is the sparkling, sometime slightly over fizzy character – it dries but leaves that sheen in the mouth that makes it feel awoken. Oddly for a wit the beer doesn’t seem to reply on the spices too much – they are there, creating a grounded dry effect, but they aren’t a huge part of it.

It makes for an almost grapefruit wit, and as of such it is something I appreciate for its mentioned refreshing character. It is still more a beer I appreciate than adore, for all I have come to enjoy it more over the years. It could be the dryness, dry beers have to work a bit harder for my affection – but it is very interesting, both as a call to the less sweet, traditional, wit and as progression in the style of its own.

As such, it is still not a favourite beer , but it is worth checking out. Most of my disagreements with it are matters of personal preference, and I’m sure there are a lot of people that this would work perfectly for.

Background: St Bernardus are pretty awesome in general, as mentioned in the review I have tried this before and wasn’t too big a fan, but decided to give it another go. I picked this up from The Beer Emporium which has very nice bottle selection and is a great bar as well. That’s about it at the moment.

Vote Sepp

Brewdog: Vote Sepp (Scotland: Belgian Wit: 3.4% ABV)

Visual: Rose wine coloured, low carbonation. Clear white half inch of tight bubbles for a head. Leaves sud rings.

Nose: Perfume. Light wheat and bitterness.

Body: Bitter. Sesame seeds. Perfume. Musty. Sour dough. Wheat. Light sweetness at back. Barley. Some very subtle strawberry and vanilla after drinking for a while.

Finish: perfume. Somewhat musty. Dry. seeds.

Conclusion: The new Hibiscus Wit, is it much different from the old Juniper Wit? Unfortunately no, it is pretty much in the same ballpark quality wise. It smells and tastes quite perfumed (that is the taste you can get in your mouth when smelling perfume, not when you drink a bottle) mixed in with a certain sour dough element. There is a taste like chewing on rose petals that lasts far too long into the finish. There is a wit base, but it is very hard to tell from the flavours you get, it is nigh unrecognisable as that style.

It is too cloying to be refreshing, and the flavours set in too long to be sessionable, the taste range is small and unappealing. There is a light barley sweetness, which is about the only element I don’t dislike in this.

I wasn’t a fan of Juniper Wheat, and this really hasn’t changed enough from that to appeal to me at all (Now I will probably find out the recipes are completely different or something – my point on the unimpressive flavour still stands). I am actually surprised that this went from being a small keg tester release to being actually bottled.

So no, not impressed with this one at all.

Background: So, Brewdog are poking fun at the blatant corruption of FIFA. Good. I mean I’m hardly a footy fan, but seriously, FIFA are so obvious Captain Planet level early morning cartoonishly corrupt it takes the piss. Speaking of FIFA and taking the piss, check out John Oliver on FIFA, it is one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. Anyway this is a hibiscus wit beer, originally it was going to be called “Hibiscus Wit” (Shockingly) and be keg only, but a quick FIFA piss take later it is now also out in bottles. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Note: The rose colour doesn’t seem to have come across in the photo, I swear that is what it looked like in the bar!

Clementine Wheat

Clown Shoes: Clementine White Ale (USA: Belgian Wit: 6% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed grain with very large suded mounds of froth for a head. Quite hazy main body.

Nose: Wheat and pepper. Lemon fresh jiff. Light bitterness. Turmeric earthy hints.

Body: Bitter and wheaty. Tangerine juice. Mild gingerbread. Prickly and peppery. Robust up front, thinner at the end. Mild malt toffee middle.

Finish: Light bitterness. Digestives. Light zest and orange. Pepper. Lemon curd. Light peppermint.

Conclusion: Clown Shoes, take 2. Here they are using a very traditional wit base, but with a bit of a twist in the effects of the flavouring and spice. I say effects as the ingredients are pretty standard, coriander and orange peel, using either of these is not unusual in any way. However here the orange feels fuller and sweeter than most, while the spice feels more pepper like and dry. In many ways it inverts my expectations of slightly tarter fruit and more grounded spice.

The wheaty base layers the bitterness on a bit heavier than normal, and more notably the bitterness is more hoppy in style as well. What does this create? Well a more up front beer. The Belgian takes can go from overly sweet in some of the more mainstream efforts, to quite dry and subtle in some of the more traditional. This is more up front without being pandering, but still has some of the subtle lemon notes of the traditional take.

How well does it work? Well it is pleasing, the hop bitterness and pepper give a rough edge that works well with the wheat, and the orange is a good contrast. It has a limited range of flavours, but lines them up so they work reasonably well off each other. It doesn’t seem to be trying for challenging like Blanche du Paradis. or booming like not just another wit. It is instead an everyday enjoyable wit that mixes American hop obsession with Belgian wit subtlety and in that it makes for a good summer filled yet bitter beer.

Now a showstopper, but pleasant and brightens a day while still having some edge.

Background: Made with orange peel and coriander, which is pretty standard for wit beers. This was picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer selection. I was trying for an impressive head on the pour of the is, and went a bit overboard, resulting in having to rapidly sip the rising froth to stop it overflowing. Not much else to add on this one.

ielandic white ale

Einstök Ölgerð: Icelandic White Ale (Iceland: Belgian Wit: 5.2%)

Visual: Pale yellow. Moderate off white bubbles and low carbonation.

Nose: Thick and musky fruit. Pineapple and passion fruit. Cloves. Cream. Lemon cordial. Pepper.

Body: Sprityz. Fresh lemon. Meringue. Cream. Sweet lime jelly. Lemon curd. Cinnamon. Toffee. Orange.

Finish: White grapes. Meringue. Cream. Cinnamon. Dry lemon. Wheaty. Passion fruit. Vanilla. Bubblegum.

Conclusion: This would probably have been more highly rated if it had not come hot on the heels of its Canadian competition. It really did have bad timing to be entering my tasting notes list.

By itself it is a pleasant, sweeter edged take on the wit style, though with a satisfying dryness behind it which tempts it back from being compared to the more commercial and over sweet wits. It has slightly unusual notes such as toffee in amongst the lemon, and a pungent fruit thickness in the aroma that hints as some good experimentation with the style.

Also odd is that the beer is nowhere near as spiced as many examples of the style, they are not completely absent, but the beer does seem to be focusing elsewhere for its most prominent elements.

Where it is most traditional is the finish, drying and with that Belgian yeastiness given full effect. It’s a nice touch that allow the slight oddities of the body to coexist with the style expectations.

Its main problem is that it came after Dieu Du Ciel awesomeness, and in comparison it seems very mainstream despite its quirks. It really isn’t though, yes it is sweet like a lot of mainstream wits, but it uses that full funky yeast character and pushes its own way with its different interpretations.

Not bad, but not up there with the greats.

Background: Beer from Iceland! Ok, I’ll admit that was mainly why I picked it up. I’m allowed my quirks. Anyway, picked this up from Independent Spirit, I’ve seen their bottles around a bit in craft beer pubs recently, but never got around to giving it a try. Anyway, not much to say on this one, so few preconceptions going in.

Blanche Du Paradis

Dieu Du Ciel: Blanche Du Paradis (Canada: Belgium Wit: 5% ABV)

Visual: Light grain to yellow. Yellow white head.

Nose: Funky Belgian yeast. Slightly tart. Lemon. Coriander. Banana sweets.

Body: Big amounts of banana and yeast. Cream. Apricot. Lemon curd. Meringue. Coriander. Banana milkshake.

Finish: Carrot and coriander. Funky yeast, Dry. Milk. Meringue and lemon curd. Banoffee milkshake. Wheaty hop character.

Conclusion: Throw away your hoegaardens boys and girls, this is full on wit with no compromises. Lots of that funky yeast character and lots of fruity esters with it. In fact the normally prominent spices are very light behind it, merely giving enough for a tingle to work in the place of other beers hop characters.

Despite the full on yeasty style, the finish is actually delicate enough to nigh instantly invite further sipping in a session style. There is no lasting harshness or anything to put you off continuing the beer. Though don’t be mistaken, if you do manage to hang on and not take the next sip then the light banana, lemon curd and meringue elements that hang around are far from boring, and definitely last.

There is almost a banoffee milkshake character to the backbone of the beer (and please don’t tell me if there is, in fact, no such thing as banoffee milkshake, let me have my dreams), it is again a low element behind the massive funky yestiness , so never gets sickly, but is a delicious note to back up the main character.

For criticisms, well I would put Mikkellers “Not Just Another Wit” ahead of it for sheer enormity of flavour, however that is a much heavier beer, so they are barely even in the same style for comparisons. One is a beer to relax and take your time with, while this is just slightly too strong to be a perfect session beer.

So frankly an awesome, nearly sessionable, Belgian wit and far from the over sweet and watered down mainstream efforts you too often find. Lovely flavour, lovely feel and perfect use of yeast. Spot on.

Background: Canadian craft beer! Woo! I’ve been keeping an eye on PEI Beer Guy’s blog for a while, and bemoaned my inability to find some of the tasty sounding beers over here. Then I found this on tap at Brewdog Bristol. So I drank it. I had been told beforehand that this was very much an old style Belgium wit so was very much looking forward to it.

(EDIT: Recently had in bottle, so decided to add an image of the nice bottle art)

Bottle

CIMG2153

Ballast Point: Wahoo Wheat (USA: Belgium Style Witbier: 4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow. Large white head.

Nose: Slightly musty. Dried fruit mixture. Orange peel. Light lemon curd. Coriander.

Body: Lemon. Wheat. Vanilla back. Slightly fizzy. Toffee. Carrot and coriander. Light banana. Nice bitterness. Peach.

Finish: Wheat. Lemon meringue. Raw carrot. Coriander.

Conclusion: America has a wealth of good Belgium style beers, from Lost Abbey to Ommegang. Alas it seems to struggle making good wit beers. This could just be my experiences but during the “Road Trip Of Awesome” I had several Belgium wit beers and they ranged from ok to pretty damn terrible. I have had the occasional good Wit from the USA, but not many. Maybe I need recommendations.

Of course this isn’t a slight on USA, the style is hard to do well and even Belgium sods it up sometimes, heck the best take on the style recently I had was from Denmark.

This take is competent but not much beyond. There is a bit too much fizz and not enough grip for the flavours. A pity as if you let the beer roam in your mouth it seems to have the right elements, from light coriander, spice, lemon curd through to vanilla sweetness backing it up.  What it lacks is the capability to bring those flavours to the forefront to be enjoyed.

It does manage to keep quiet traditional in its interpretation, slightly dry and tart over the wheat styled base. It therefore avoids the over sweet interpretation that can be a bane to the style.  There is sweetness but used as background noise and lingering finish. if the other elements were bigger it would provide an appropriate backdrop. As is the wheat dominates the flavour too much and it relies on the slightly heavier than normal bitterness as a crutch.

It is a far better beer than some of the watery atrocities or over sweet version I had encountered (but not reviewed0 during the road trip, and uses good calls to the Belgium interpretations, unfortunately for all its attempts at matching their style it doesn’t pull it off.
A nice try but lackluster beer.

Background: So far my experiences with Ballast Point have been pretty spot on so I grabbed a few more of their beers to try recently. It had nothing to do with my urge to rub it in that these are easier to find in the UK than in some states of America. Honest.  I’ve been on quite a stout run recently so have been deliberately grabbing some lighter coloured beers to give me a bit of a break. Drunk while listening to Radiohead: Ok Computer because it’s been bloody ages since I last listened to it.

Three Boys: Wheat (New Zealand: Belgium Wit Beer: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale and cloudy with a light lemon curd colour. Large mound of white bubbled froth.

Nose: Sour. Lemon zest and coriander. Crushed orange. Crisp wheat. Tart apple juice. Very fresh.

Body: Quite tart. Apple pie. Lemon curd. Cider. White bread. Light hop bitterness. Touch of cream.

Finish: Tart lemon and apple. Dry. Fresh white bread. White wine. Slight hop bitterness.

Conclusion: I’m always wary of non Belgium interpretations of wit beers. It seems so easy for a brewer to make a beer that misses the point of a wit, making them too sweet, or hopping them so they don’t seem like a wit, or just plain making them dull.

This is dry yet citrus fresh, just slightly bitter and with only a merest whiff of cream sweetness working against what is otherwise the most mouth freshening experience. Oh yes they got the point with this one.

The citrus flavour is all orange and lemons (No, not the bells of Saint Clemens), with the body holding that very true. With that you also get a light wheat and hop tingle, that bleeds through into a quite dry finish.  For a bit of a surprise it lays on apple tartness which just makes it that touch more acidic and refreshing. Not to mention makes it that touch more interesting.

For the all important question, is it better that Mikkeller’s “Not Just Another Wit”? The answer is, well, no.  However the more reasonable abv on this one makes it a much more easy to drink beer. Combine that with the freshness and you have a great summer refresher of a beer, one you can have more than just the one of.

Set for thirst quenching sourness and flavour, dry yet sippable. A very easy to appreciate beer.

Background: I owe my sis massively for bringing these back from New Zealand.  This one was on from 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die (Incidentally does anyone else thing beers you should try books should top out at the one to two hundred mark, over five hundred and you’re just being indecisive.) Anyway, I’ve hit the heavily hopped beers from the selection already and I’m now onto the lighter coloured beers part of the set. I’m keeping the heavy and dark beers for the ends as I figure they will survive much better.  Definitely enjoying this little patch of the NZ beer scene so far. Annoyingly my Internet is playing up at the mo, so reviews and updates may be intermittent until I get an engineer in.

Kiuchi: Hitachino Nest: White Ale (Japan: Belgium Wit Beer: 5% ABV)

Visual: Light grain yellow. Slightly hazy. Short lived white head.

Nose: Fresh apple in tartness and slightly new apple sourness. White grapes. Banana candy sweets. As it warms distinct ginger becomes evident.

Body: Apples Fresh. Slight bitterness. Slight banana and cloves. Vanilla. Quite sweet but sharp. Slight ginger warmth.

Finish: Vanilla. Pepper and coriander. Waxy sheen. Ginger beer as it warms.

Conclusion:  Most beers change with chilling, but this one is more reactive than most. Even the slightest temperate changes seems to radically change the profile of the beer. Slightly chilled it is quite tart and slightly thin. It’s refreshing with apple tartness and vanilla tones.

At room temperature it is a livelier bugger. Ginger beer like with slight spicy fire. Less refreshing but more enjoyable aside from that. Even then the fresh and vanilla gives a sweet and slightly sharp backbone that means it hasn’t lost it’s core.

The sweetness is slightly more evident than a lot of the Belgium wits. Very vanilla style mixed with apple tartness.  Kinda mixed messages, the kind of contrast you get from biting on a toffee apple. The vanilla style seems quite similar to the TM 10 saison oddly enough. Its still somewhat refreshing if less so than the chilled diversion, and the ginger beer dryness does make it easy drinking. A nice wee mix.

Definitely a better beer warm,. Chilled is slightly too light, and reminds me of Baldin Isaac. Warm it is heavier and richer. Slightly disjointed but enjoyably so. A bit too much clashing to be in the best of beers but a worthwhile trip for a session drinking. The abv is just a but to high for a  full session beer, but flavour wise it is well set. Guess in a pich you could share a few bottles with mates quite enjoyably.
Background:  Drunk with friends, which gave the advantage of extra opinions on the beer, but also meant that I was distracted with conversation during the review. Hopefully the two cancel out.  I’ve tried quiet a few Hitachino Nest beers recently and they have been pretty good so far, if not quite showing the spark of wild experimentation most of the time.  Still as a fan of craft beer and Japan it’s always nice to give them a look over. Picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section.

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