Belgian Whites: The Most Drinkable Beer Ever?

This season, we're taking a tour of Belgian beers. Last week, we sipped several Belgian stouts, so it's only natural that we explore the lighter side of Belgian beers: white or “Wit” beers. These lighter beers, which go by a variety of names, have a few characteristics in common. Most of them are brewed with a higher percentage of wheat malt, and many feature adjuncts like coriander, citrus peels and other spices. Not surprisingly, these adjuncts show up in the aroma of white beers. White beers are typically cloudy, from suspended yeast, and it is this yeast that is responsible for a large part of the distinctive aroma of white beer – particularly the clove and banana aspects. Cheers!

Dogfish Head Namaste White

Format sampled: 12 oz capped Bottle

ABV: 4.8%

Availability: Purchased at Whole Foods

Tasting Notes: Pours a slightly cloudy light yellow, with a huge bone-white head. Aroma has lemongrass, clove, and a peppery sharpness. Initial flavor opens with a broad, sweet wheat character – like a sweet bread, fresh out of the oven. It's a mild, bread sweetness, and it's quickly supplanted by some sharp spices. There are hints of clove, ginger, lemongrass and white pepper – all closer to “mellow and warming” than “sharp and spicy.” The body is slightly thicker and stickier than your average summer beer – and the viscosity serves to hold the more complex flavors on your palate a little longer. The aftertaste has sweet wheat, sour citrus, and spicy clove – just enough to encourage another sip!

Blue Moon Belgian White

Format sampled: 12 oz capped Bottle

ABV: 5.4%

Availability: Purchased at Cumberland Farms

Tasting Notes: Pours a light amber with a thin scrim of white head. Aroma has a faint sweetness and a mild menthol spice. The initial flavor is pleasantly piquant with notes of clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The spices are subtle and fade quickly, leaving a huge swath of sweetly inoffensive malt in their wake. Sure, it's one-dimensional and lacks the deeper complexity of some more “authentic” beers, but it hearkens to all the flavors that make a white beer unique. It's quenching, distinctive and relatively well-balanced. Putting aside all my macro-brew averse snobbery, I'd drink this more regularly than “once in a blue moon.”

 

Allagash White

Format sampled: 12 oz capped Bottle

ABV: 5.1%

Availability: Purchased at Whole Foods

Tasting Notes: Pours a very pale gold with a dense pillow of pure white head. Aroma fumes with clove, banana, and lemon. The first sip is simultaneously creamy and refreshing, rich enough to approach a glass of skim milk, but light and fluid on the tongue. There's fresh lemon zest, and a zippy hint of coriander, cinnamon, and the menthol zing of dried clove.  It's all soaring above a savory malt base that's profoundly wheat-like. It's not the cracker crispness of an English malt, it's the rich “pasta water” taste of wheat malt. The aftertaste emphasizes lemon, clove, and spice, naturally leading to another sip. Incredibly refreshing!

Last modified onTuesday, 06 June 2017 19:07