Witbier, White Beer
Proper Flemish pronunciation is “vitt-a” but is usually pronounced “wit” or “white” beer here in the states. Most American beer drinkers have had a tasty Hoegaarden or even a far-from-original Blue Moon from that “Blue Moon Brewing Company” no one can actually locate. These are good “gateway” beers introducing people to craft beer and the complex styles of other Belgian ales like Trappist and Abbey ales.
A typical Belgian-style witbier is a yellowish, unfiltered ale with a large, dense, white head brewed with 30%-60% wheat (malted or unmalted) in the grist with the remaining grain usually consisting of malted barley, and sometimes oats. Coriander seeds and orange peels (usually Curacao) are most often used to season the beer giving it a refreshing bite. Wheat beers are usually very popular in the summer due to the quenching effects of the wheat grain and the citrusy flavors.
The story of the Belgian witbier is a great one told over and over by beer writers. Brewed for hundreds of years in the Flemish Brabant province of Flanders, Belgium, an area that produces the best wheat farms because of its rich soil. Although the style was popular for most of the past 400 years, the Witte seemed to disappear in the 1950′s. Pierre Celis is often deemed the man responsible for reviving the style in 1966 in the Belgian town of Hoegaarden. After Interbrew (now InBev) purchased the Hoegaarden brewery, Celis moved to Austin, Texas and revived the style once again in the United States at his Celis Brewery.
Variations on the style are common with additions of different spices, fruits and grains with exceptional examples produced in many different countries including Belgium, France, the United States, Italy and even Japan.
This style is usually our go-to beer on hot, summer days. Some of our favorites include:
Jan De Lichte – KleinBrouwerij De Glazen Toren
Bianca – Birrificio Brùton
White Rascal – Avery Brewing Company
Allagash White – Allagash Brewing Company
St. Bernardus Witbier – Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Blanche De Bruxelles – Brasserie Lefèbvre SA
Blanche de Chambly – Unibroue
Blanche De Namur – Brasserie Du Bocq
Pigeonnelle Loirette – Brasserie De La Pigeonnelle
Come to Get Real “Belgian Fest” and try some great examples of Belgian-style witbiers!!