Witbier – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Beer Styles Glossary

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What is Witbier?

Witbier, also known as white beer, is a traditional Belgian-style wheat beer that is brewed with a high percentage of unmalted wheat. It is characterized by its cloudy appearance, pale color, and refreshing taste. Witbier is typically spiced with coriander and orange peel, giving it a unique and complex flavor profile. It is often brewed with a specific strain of yeast that imparts fruity and spicy notes to the beer.

History of Witbier

Witbier has a long and storied history that dates back to the Middle Ages in Belgium. It was originally brewed by monks in monasteries as a way to provide a refreshing and thirst-quenching beverage for the local community. Witbier fell out of favor in the 19th century but experienced a revival in the 20th century thanks to the efforts of Belgian brewers who sought to preserve and revive traditional beer styles. Today, Witbier is enjoyed by beer enthusiasts around the world for its unique taste and historical significance.

Characteristics of Witbier

Witbier is known for its hazy appearance, which is a result of the high percentage of wheat used in the brewing process. It has a pale straw to golden color and a fluffy white head. Witbier has a light to medium body and a smooth mouthfeel, making it a highly drinkable beer. The flavor profile of Witbier is complex, with notes of citrus, spice, and a slight tartness. It is often described as being refreshing and thirst-quenching, making it a popular choice for warm weather drinking.

Ingredients used in Witbier

Witbier is brewed with a combination of malted barley, unmalted wheat, and oats. The use of unmalted wheat gives Witbier its signature cloudy appearance and light body. In addition to the base grains, Witbier is spiced with coriander and orange peel, which contribute to its unique flavor profile. The beer is also brewed with a specific strain of yeast that produces fruity and spicy esters, adding complexity to the beer. Some brewers may also add other spices or herbs to enhance the flavor of Witbier.

Serving and Pairing recommendations for Witbier

Witbier is best served in a tall, narrow glass such as a Weizen glass to showcase its hazy appearance and allow the aromas to be fully appreciated. It is typically served cold, around 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit, to enhance its refreshing qualities. Witbier pairs well with a variety of foods, including seafood, salads, and spicy dishes. The citrus and spice notes in Witbier complement the flavors of dishes such as grilled shrimp, ceviche, and Thai curry. It is also a great beer to enjoy on its own as a refreshing and thirst-quenching beverage.

Popular examples of Witbier

Some popular examples of Witbier include Hoegaarden Witbier, Allagash White, and Blue Moon Belgian White. Hoegaarden Witbier is a classic Belgian Witbier that is brewed with coriander and orange peel, giving it a refreshing and citrusy flavor. Allagash White is an American take on the traditional Witbier style, with a slightly higher alcohol content and a more pronounced spice profile. Blue Moon Belgian White is a widely available Witbier that is brewed with oats for added creaminess and a smooth mouthfeel. These beers are widely enjoyed for their unique taste and refreshing qualities.