The white choice

The white choice

The white choice

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  • Author: MyVillage

The white choice


It’s hard to beat a cold white beer on a warm and sunny late afternoon. The clean, yeasty flavour and the snow-white lacy head of a good white turns the long day at the office into a distant memory.

Wheat beers have become very popular in recent years and are most in demand when the weather is warm. White beer is a barley/wheat beer brewed mainly in Belgium, although there are also examples in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

Its name derives from the suspended wheat proteins which cause the beer to look hazy or white when cold. It is a descendant from those medieval beers which were not brewed with hops but instead flavoured and preserved with a blend of spices and other plants, and referred to as gruut. The taste is only slightly hoppish and is very refreshing in summer.

The beers have a somewhat sour taste due to the lactic acid and have a second fermentation in the bottle.

Wit, or white, bier is pale golden, tart, refreshing, thick with sediment and contains a high level of carbon dioxide.

White beers feature a hazy yellow colour, a rich white head and a flavour that highlights coriander blended with wheat and malted barley. Aromas tend to be relatively neutral or even a bit orangey due to the coriander. Body should be medium or a bit lighter and the carbonation should be reasonably aggressive. Hop bitterness should be low but a mild acidity is essential and contributes to the beer’s quenching powers. There should be no alcohol flavour, but esters are fine at low levels. These beers should always be very drinkable.

Wheat beers are spritzy, tart, tangy and very refreshing, ideal for summer consumption. However, similar to beers made from barley, there is a wide range of styles available.

While most wheat beers are top fermented, many are also bottle-conditioned – re-fermented in the bottle and left on the yeast lees until consumption – giving them greater shelf life and complexity.

The origins of the Belgian witbier (white beer) style can be traced to a 15th Century monastery in what is now the Belgian town of Hoegaarden. It was here a brewing metropolis emerged and by the 1800s there were 30 breweries all making witbier.

In the 1800s, Hoegaarden was one of the most significant brewing centres in Belgium, with 30 breweries producing witbier. Unfortunately, time chipped away at this thriving production and by the mid 1950s only a few were still in operation.

Hoegaarden White is the original white beer, brewed with unmalted wheat and spices such as coriander and dried orange peel.

The beer has a naturally cloudy appearance because it is not filtered and has undergone a second fermentation in the bottle or keg.

Its sweet-sour and spicy taste makes it a unique, refreshing, easy-to-drink speciality beer that is distinctively different from the usual pint of lager.

MyVillage, 11th May


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