Belgian Witbier in a Tulip Glass

Overview for the Witbier Beer Style

The Belgian Witbier dates back four centuries and all but vanished by the 1950s. The style was revived at Hoegaarden and its popularity has grown during the modern craft beer movement. The wheat ale ranges in color from pale straw to gold and has moderate alcohol strength. Its feel is dry and slightly creamy with a medium-light to medium body. Effervescent from high carbonation. Light bready malt with little to no hop bitterness. Bright orange citrus flavor typically spiced with coriander.

Style Expectations

The Belgian Witbier is a refreshing, elegant, tasty, moderate-strength wheat-based ale.

Appearance

Very pale straw to very light gold in color. The beer will be very cloudy from starch haze and/or yeast, which gives it a milky, whitish-yellow appearance. Dense, white, moussy head. Head retention should be quite good.

Aroma

Moderate malty sweetness (often with light notes of honey and/or vanilla) with light, grainy, spicy wheat aromatics, often with a bit of tartness. Moderate perfumy coriander, often with a complex herbal, spicy, or peppery note in the background. Moderate zesty, citrusy-orangey fruitiness. A low spicy-herbal hop aroma is optional, but should never overpower the other characteristics. Vegetal, celery-like, or ham-like aromas are inappropriate. Spices should blend in with fruity, floral and sweet aromas and should not be overly strong.

Flavor

Pleasant malty-sweet grain flavor (often with a honey and/or vanilla character) and a zesty, orange-citrusy fruitiness. Refreshingly crisp with a dry, often tart, finish. Can have a low bready wheat flavor. Optionally has a very light lactic-tasting sourness. Herbal-spicy flavors, which may include coriander and other spices, are common should be subtle and balanced, not overpowering. A spicy-earthy hop flavor is low to none, and if noticeable, never gets in the way of the spices. Hop bitterness is low to medium-low, and doesn’t interfere with refreshing flavors of fruit and spice, nor does it persist into the finish. Bitterness from orange pith should not be present. Vegetal, celery-like, ham-like, or soapy flavors are inappropriate.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium body, often having a smoothness and light creaminess from unmalted wheat and the occasional oats. Despite body and creaminess, finishes dry and often a bit tart. Effervescent character from high carbonation. Refreshing, from carbonation, light acidity, and lack of bitterness in finish. No harshness or astringency from orange pith. Should not be overly dry and thin, nor should it be thick and heavy.

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