Exploring The World of the Witbier, Beer with a Tasty History
The wheat beer family stands as a venerable lineage of brews with deep medieval origins, ideally suited for the warm embrace of summer. Among its illustrious members, we find Witbier.
- Witbier is brewed using a blend of pale barley malt, unmalted wheat, and oats, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture. This spiced brew boasts hints of coriander and citrus, with a touch of lactic acidity.
- Witbier was crafted using specific combinations of herbs and spices to harmonize with the malt’s sweetness.
Witbier, also recognized as white beer, emerges as a refreshingly distinctive Belgian beer variant, gaining a global following. Many inquire about the distinctions among wheat beer styles, specifically Witbier, Hefeweizen, and “American” wheat beer. Although they may share some resemblances, these styles harbor notable differences.
Within this blog post, we shall embark on a journey into the core of Witbier, the essence of witbier, explore its definition, and highlight the key differences between witbier and wheat beer.
What Is Witbier in the Beer Family
Witbier is a traditional Belgian style type of beer tracing its roots to the Middle Ages, derives its name from the Dutch word “wit,” meaning “white” – a fitting description of its appearance.
Hailing from Leuven in the Flemish region of Belgium, Witbier belongs to the family of white (wit) beer styles. It’s characterized by its hazy, pale, and slightly hoppy complexion, enhanced with a medley of spices to emphasize its yeasty nature.
Typically, Witbier is brewed using a blend of pale barley malt, unmalted wheat, and oats, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture. This spiced brew boasts hints of coriander and citrus, with a touch of lactic acidity. Its unfiltered brewing process lends it cloudy and golden. Witbiers are distinguished by their bready flavor profile and generally clock in with an alcohol-by-volume (ABV) content ranging from 4.5 to 5.5%.
History of Witbier
Witbiers, a style with roots dating back to the 14th Century in Belgium. These Belgian white beers had their origins in the towns of Leuven and Hoegaarden, situated in Flemish Brabant, a central province of Belgium.
Witbier was crafted using specific combinations of herbs and spices to harmonize with the malt’s sweetness. By the 16th century, Leuven and Hoegaarden brews had gained widespread recognition, with Leuven becoming renowned and one of the best for its breweries with a large reputation for its brewery. By the 19th century, Hoegaarden had expanded its brewing influence to encompass nearly 40 breweries throughout Europe, earning a reputation for its rustic and exceptionally pale beer.
However, as hops gradually supplanted bittering herbs in the late 1800s and into the 1900s, witbiers faced the risk of fading into obscurity. It wasn’t until Pierre Celis, a milkman by trade, revived the style.
In 1965, Celis established a small brewery in his shed and meticulously perfected a witbier recipe that garnered significant acclaim. Eventually, in 1989, he introduced this revitalized witbier to Austin, Texas, where it found tremendous success among the burgeoning craft beer community.
The Difference Between Witbier and Wheat Beer
Even though they come from the same family, There are several differences between what Witbier and Wheat beer is. So what are the differences between Wheat Beer and Witbier?
American Wheat beer, often simply referred to as “wheat beer” in brewing circles, distinguishes itself through the use of clean American yeasts. These yeasts do not impart the robust clove and banana notes found in German weiss beers or the fruity, spicy essence characteristic of witbiers. In terms of appearance, American wheat beers can vary from relatively clear to cloudy. Consistent with American brewing traditions, these wheat beers showcase a more pronounced hop presence, resulting in a crisper mouthfeel when compared to witbiers or hefeweizens.
On the other hand, Witbier is meticulously crafted using a blend of pale barley malt, unmalted wheat, and oats, creating a velvety and creamy texture. This spiced brew is characterized by subtle hints of coriander and citrus, complemented by a gentle touch of lactic acidity. Its unfiltered brewing process imparts a distinctive cloudy and golden hue, setting it apart from American Wheat beers.
What About Hefeweizen and Weisse?
As the Witbier is a Belgian-style beer, there are others in the family of Witbier, such as Hefeweizen and a Weisse. So what’s the difference?
Originating in the 1520s in Bavaria, Germany, Hefeweizen is a variant of Weissbier, a type of white beer. Remarkably, this style managed to exist beyond the confines of the Bavarian Purity Law, which stipulated that beer could only be crafted using barley, hops, water, and yeast. This exception was made possible by the Dukes of Wittelsbach, who introduced an amendment known as Weissbierregal, or the “right to brew wheat beer,” granting a single brewery the privilege to produce weissbier. This arrangement persisted until the final Duke of Degenberg passed away without an heir. Subsequently, Duke Maximilian I expanded production to more breweries, recognizing the economic potential of Weissbier.
Hefeweizen, a subset of weiss beer, which translates to “white beer” in German, is primarily composed of 60-70% wheat. It is renowned for its pronounced notes of banana and clove, occasionally accompanied by hints of vanilla or bubblegum in both aroma and flavor. The final character of Hefeweizen depends on factors such as yeast strain selection, meticulous control of the brewing process, and, most importantly, fermentation temperature. Each brewery aims to achieve a specific aromatic balance. While the older, more traditional versions exhibit a pale amber color, modern renditions often resemble cloudy pilsners.
Conversely, Berliner Weisse is a distinctive beer brewed with approximately half-malted wheat and soured using Lactobacillus bacteria. It once served as the everyday beverage of Berliners until Bavarian lagers gained prominence.
This beer boasts a low alcohol content, typically around 3.5% ABV, and is characterized by its cloudiness, tangy profile, minimal hop presence, and high carbonation. Berliner Weisse was traditionally packaged in robust stoneware bottles, capable of withstanding the elevated pressure better than the handmade glass bottles of the mid-nineteenth century. The customary drinking vessel for Berliner Weisse was a large, straight-sided tumbler, designed to accommodate a liter of beer along with a generous layer of dense, frothy foam. Given its low alcohol content and sharp acidity, it was common to enhance the flavor with sweet liqueurs like kümmel, infused with caraway, at the time of serving.
Interested in Witbier?
At Canard, our Witbier boasts a pale straw hue, slightly hazy due to the presence of yeast and wheat malt. It greets your senses with a refreshing burst of citrus notes complemented by the subtle aroma of coriander. “Zesty” encapsulates the essence of this beer, which offers a silky, fruity, and creamy profile, effervescent on the palate. When enjoyed fresh, it delivers a refreshing lightness and concludes with a smooth finish, leaving no lingering bitterness on the palate.
If you want to find the best craft beers from a brewery in Indonesia, consider trying Canard Brewing Co. We serve the best of both brewing and ingredients. Visit our website to discover more.