Beer Style of the Month (May 2022)

Witbier, Wheat Beer, Hefeweizen? What’s the difference

While all are made with a substantial portion of wheat, Hefeweizen is a type of weiss beer—German for “white beer” characterized by a strong presence of banana and clove. American versions of wheat beers use clean, American yeasts. These yeasts don’t create the heavy clove and banana character of German weiss beers or the fruity, spicy character of a Witbier, a Belgian white beer.

Witbiers are typically brewed with coriander and sweet orange peels, however secret spices are rumored to be used in some…

This month’s beer is Witbier. Origins of the Witbier date back to the 14th century where it was brewed in farming communities and monasteries around Broadbent, Leuven and Hoegaarden. After a long decreasing interest in the brewing style of witbier, there was a resurgence, in 1966, of witbiers in Belgium started by Peirre Celis which later became Hoegaarden. When drinking a Witbier, one will experience a medium-light to medium body, often having a
smoothness and light creaminess with an effervescent character from high carbonation. Witbiers are typically a delicate, lightly spiced, moderate-strength ale providing a refreshing summer drink with its high carbonation, dry finish, and light hopping with an ABV of approximately 5% and an IBU between 8-20.
This beer presents a hazy (i.e. cloudy), pale straw to deep yellow in color. The flavors of the witbier provide a pleasant bready, grainy malt flavor, often with a honey or vanilla character and can have a moderate zesty, orange-citrusy fruitiness. Any herbal-spicy flavors, which may include lemony coriander and other spices, are common but should be subtle. Their aroma provides the same moderate bready maltiness, with light notes of honey or vanilla, sometimes
with an orange-citrusy fruitiness and often with a complex herbal, spicy or peppery note in the background.

Witbiers are typically brewed with coriander and sweet orange peels, however secret spices are rumored to be used in some versions of witbier. In addition to wheat, some wibiers may use up to 5-10% raw oats or other unmalted cereal grains. A mild fruity spiced Belgian ale yeast is typically used to accentuate the character of this beer.

Some commercial examples of witbiers are: Allagash White, Blanche de Bruxelles, Celis White, Hoegaarden White, Ommegang Witte, and St. Bernardus Wit. The descriptions and information from this articles were provided by Beer Judge Certification Program.

Make sure to go out and try a witbier or two and enjoy!

Article Written by SMASH Member, John Kovacs