Wheat Beer (Witbier/Blanche)

Wheat Beer (Witbier/Blanche)

‘Witbier’ (wheat or white beer) is an unfiltered high or top fermented beer. To produce witbier the brewer will use 30% unmalted wheat. The addition of herbs such as coriander and orange zest is typical in Belgian wheat beers, imparting a pleasantly fresh aroma to the beer.

‘Witbier’ will re-ferment in the bottle and is unfiltered. Served in the glass, the beer has a cloudy appearance with an agreeably mild taste and a slightly sour touch. Witbier used to be served with a slice of lemon in the glass but this custom has now almost entirely disappeared. ‘Witbier’ has approximately the same alcohol percentage as pils.

The rural town of Hoegaarden is inseparably connected with witbier, which has been brewed here since human records began. The first written sources that link this sour, cloudy brew to the town of Hoegaarden date from 1318.

Medieval Belgians appear to have enjoyed their ‘witbier’: the number of witbier breweries in Hoegaarden saw a steady increase during the period. ‘Witbier’ became popular in this area thanks to its abundant supply of wheat. With the rise of the – relatively young – pils tradition, most white beer breweries disappeared over the course of the 20th century (the last one closed its doors in 1957).

However, white beer was brewed once again in 1966 at the ‘De Kluis’ brewery, at the initiative of Pierre Celis (1925-2011). Pierre is a legend in the brewing world and was single-handedly responsible for the witbier revival that, quite literally, saved this beer style from extinction.

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