The Witbier Battle
Witbier is a Belgian beer style also very popular in France and in Switzerland (where is called Bière Blache). Considered a lighter wheat-based beer, this style is reborn among the youngsters in the European Summer.
Although this beer is very refreshing, making it ideal for warm weather, the rich and complex taste is appealing in any season.
Once Witbier was the dominant beer style in East Brussels because of the great beers brewed in the city of Louvain and in the village of Hoegaarden. In the 10th century, this beer was sold by the cask in an open-air market in Louvain.
Blanche de Hougaerde (this is the original name) never enjoyed the same popularity as its rivals from the ‘big city’, due to the bigger resources and public that a larger city provides its companies.
As happened in many areas around the world, The Lager Revolution made serious damage in the traditional witbier markets, and right after World War II, the style was fading away. But a very brave milkman by trade, named Pierre Celis, decided he would prefer to deal in another white beverage and started the reborn of this tasteful beer.
With some family financial help, he bought equipment from a defunct brewery, fitted into some farm buildings, hired a veteran brewer and started brewing Hoegaarden, as we know today.
Now the brewery is part of the AB Inbev brewing giant and Celis started a new brewery in Austin, Texas.
Traditional recipes are described with 54% of malted barley, 41% of unmalted wheat and 5% of unmalted oats; tough considerable variations are surely present nowadays.
Witbier is spiced, usually with coriander and the peels of both sweet and bitter oranges. Sometimes also with a secret spice, giving the unique characteristic of each beer.
Here we will show you few great examples of this style – our favorites – so you can have an idea of what is around.
Some are commercially worldwide, therefore easy to find. But some are available only in their own local markets.
And what about you?
Have you ever tasted a witbier?
Which is your favorite?
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