Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Beer To Try Episode #1: Hoegaarden

New to the mattyp blog is 'A Beer To Try'.  It will be a regularly occurring feature where I will sample and recommend certain beers or styles for those who, like many, are intrigued by the variety of  brews available, but are unsure of where to begin.  This inaugural episode will feature a style called "Witbier'.

This is a smooth beer, light golden in colour, and light in taste.  The biggest feature worth noting is the cloudiness - there is a lot of yeast added into the beer, and in this case it is the yeast that adds the characteristic flavour.  Don't let that scare you off, as it balances a sweeter side with a bit of spice flavour.  It's also brewed with wheat grain, and it has low hop bitterness.
Hoegaarden with it's traditional hexagonal glass

If you are going to try a 'wit' for the first time, I HIGHLY recommend Hoegaarden (pronounced 'Who-garden') which is brewed by Inbev at the Labatt brewery in Toronto.   It is a classic belgian wit, with a nice aroma of banana and clove. That may not be what you are expecting from a beer, but the taste is very clean, low on hop bitterness, with the yeast  adding a grainy-cereal flavour, and balancing our the sweetness.  Do yourself a favour though, when pouring, stop 2/3rds of the way through and give the bottle a swirl to stir up the yeast sediment, then pour it on into the glass.  (That brings me to another point, if you truly want to experience a beer, you gotta drink it out of a glass.  I don't drink every beer from a glass, but I ALWAYS pour out the ones I really want to enjoy.  Simply put: it's better out of the bottle.)

After a few sips you may notice the citrus-like taste, or the banana coming through a bit more.  You may also notice you are almost done and will reach for another.  It's a very good beer to drink on it's own, and doesn't have any harsh flavours tp it, which is why I recommend it for 1st time 'real' beer drinkers.

Where to get it? Luckily the LCBO carries it in a 6 pack, and sometimes you can find single bottles as well.  If you are in the Brantford area, the pub around the corner from my house the Oxford Circus has it on tap, which is probably the best way to enjoy it.  Let me know if you are in town and I'll join ya!

There are other brewers who make this style, Alexander Keith's makes a 'White' which is just awful, i would avoid it.  Mill Street makes a Belgian Wit which is very good however.  Also look for a German 'hefewiessen', it's very similar.

It may be a step or two beyond Canadian or Blue, but if you DO try this wonderful beer, do me a favour and leave me a comment, let me know if you enjoyed it, or what your thoughts were.


  1. Alexander Keiths white is absolutely atrocious! They are definitely doing something wrong with that one. The Mill Street belgian wit is decent. Paulaner Heffewisen and Hoegaarden are good, but Edleweiss beer is the best!

  2. I learned Keiths is just a pale ale with yeast added for flavour. I've had Edelweiss before, very good. Have you tried the darker wheat beers?