Samuel Adams White Christmas


Beer: Boston Beer Company
Brewery: White Christmas
Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.8%


Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa




Sight: Cloudy butter yellow body with a small white head.

Smell: Slight phenolic aroma (bananas/cloves). Other smells include lemon, sugar cookie, and pastry dough.

Flavor: Hmm this tastes like a Blue Moon served with an orange. White bread and orange are the, ahem, rather plain flavors that define this beer.

Feel: Medium, creamy body with medium carbonation. It’s a little chewy.

Concluding Remark: A sucker for anything called White Christmas (Bing Crosby, swoon), I couldn’t help plucking this from the  Sam Adams Holiday pack (a Wood family staple since the 1990s). It’s allegedly brewed with “holiday spices,” but those are nowhere to be found amid this mediocrity. Others disagree with me on the low rating, but I can’t be bothered to be bored right now. While White Christmas is more subtle and balanced than Coors’ Blue Moon, at least I don’t expect anything more from a Blue Moon. Sam could’ve amped up the holiday cheer in this beer; there’s nothing differentiating it from a standard witbier.

I guess I’ll stress that it’s NOT BAD, but there are so many better beers out there…of both the holiday and witbier variety.

Categories: Holiday, Witbier | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Redoak Witbier

Beer: Redoak Witbier
Brewery: Redoak Brewery
Style: Witbier
ABV: 4.6%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Wheat beer glass
Drinking Establishment: Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe, Sydney, Australia
Primary Consumer: Ally
Secondary Consumers: Sue & the Australian Scientists



Sight: Slightly cloudy yellow color, with a 2-finger fluffy, creamy white head.  Nice lacing on the glass.

Smell: Citrus, in the form of lemon, and yeast.  Although, according to one of the scientists, citrus aroma + yeast aroma = bile aroma.

Flavor: A very mild wheat flavor.  And that’s about it.

Feel: Light mouthfeel, almost watery, with mild carbonation.

Concluding Remarks:  So, Australia isn’t known for having great beer; in fact, it’s kinda known for having really, really bad beer.  However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, and Redoak is one of them.  Its unassuming storefront a few blocks from Cockle Bay is deceptive; once inside, it’s a rather classy little joint with a grand menu of in-house brews.  And since I happened to be in Sydney during the month of the Witbier, the Witbier is what I ordered.

Thankfully, I ordered other beers too, because the Wit was rather boring.  (As Sue liked to point out, it was “boring like Brisbane.”)  The taste was much better than bile, but unfortunately, the taste was not much of anything.  There were no spice notes, like one would expect from a Wit; and there was not much in the way of any other flavor, except for maybe a slight resemblance to a cider.  We all agreed that it was a little too much like drinking water.

So if you travel all the way to Australia and find yourself in one of the only good breweries in New South Wales, don’t get the Wit; try one of the Framboise Froment instead, or get a tasting board with beer pairings.

And for future reference, there are two other beer-selling spots in Brisbane that are worth their salt: the Bavarian Bier Cafe (on the Eagle Street Pier) and Archive Beer Boutique (in the West End).

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Dogfish Head Positive Contact

Beer: Positive Contact
Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Style: Witbier – Cider hybrid
ABV: 9.0%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Err, sample glass*
Drinking Establishment: George Street Ale House, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer: Ally



Sight: Relatively clear, golden yellow body.  Small white head that settles to a sticky ring around the edge.

Smell: A vegetable-y aroma–perhaps that’s the pepper in the brew?  But there’s a citrus scent, too.  It smells a little bit like a cider, unsurprisingly.  No smokiness, as I was kind of expecting.

Flavor: Although the aroma wasn’t indicative of it, this tastes like bacon.  Smoky, and a teeny tiny bit sweet.  It doesn’t drink like a cider.

Feel: Flat and a bit syrupy, with low carbonation.

Concluding Remark:  Dogfish Head released this limited batch brew as part of their Music Series of beers; they say it is “an amalgamation of hip-hop, beer, cider and a DIY culinary experience.”  In fact, Sam and Dan the Automator of hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030 teamed up with Dogfish to make this ale (it’s named after a track off their first album), which is brewed with Fuji apple cider, slow-roasted farro (a wheat-based grain), cayenne pepper, and fresh cilantro.

So how is it?  Well, under the wise guidance of our bartender, Mike, we let it sit for a few minutes before tasting (the time it took to drink a pint of another beer, to be exact).  This brought out the herbal nature of it–you do get a note of cilantro–but the flavor is mostly a smokiness.  The only cider-like component that’s really apparent is a sweetness in the aftertaste.  The flat mouthfeel is a bit off-putting, but this could be because we let it sit before sampling.  But, it was worth it, to get the full flavor effect.  For a sweet-and-savory experience, definitely give this interesting ale a try, if you should happen upon it.

*And yes, I was too cheap to buy a full glass.  The perks of knowing your local bartender: free samples!

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Harvest Moon Belgian Witbier

Beer:  Belgian Witbier
Brewery: Harvest Moon Brewery
Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.0%

 Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Harvest Moon Brewery, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumers: Ally & Kerensa



Sight: Cloudy, deep golden/orangey yellow.  Small creamy white head that settles to some froth on top.

Smell: Spices and chicory; also, kinda like a Band-Aid.

Flavor: Bland, especially in light of the overpowering aroma.  Vaguely citrusy, like orange rind.

Feel: Thin but creamy, with low carbonation.

Concluding Remarks: This Witbier was a letdown.  The aroma seemed to promise a powerful, complex flavor, but it barely tasted like a watery orange peel.  It did taste better once we squeezed in the orange garnish, but not enough for our tastes.  Although we love to support local business, really, you might as well get yourself a Blue Moon.

Categories: Witbier | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Anchorage Whiteout Witbier

Beer:  Whiteout Witbier
Brewery: Anchorage Brewing Company
Style: Witbier
ABV: 6.5%

 Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Wine glass
Purchased at: Jersey Wines & Spirits, Jersey City, NJ
Primary Consumer: Ally
Secondary Consumers: Shaun, Neel, Mike, Ernie, Janise, and Patsy



Sight: Quite cloudy goldenrod color, with a small creamy white head that dissipates quickly.

Smell: The smell grossed everyone out a bit; we likened it to everything from farts to cat urine.  But really, if we have to be real beer connoisseurs about it, the aroma was yeasty, citrusy, and almost cheese-like–particularly Swiss cheese.  There was definitely something Chardonnay about it, too.

Flavor: The flavor was definitely Chardonnay-like.  It was sweet, like a white wine, but also had that slightly bitter note of Swiss cheese in there.  The citrus note was that of lemon.

Feel: Clean, crisp, and creamy, with moderate-to-high carbonation.

Concluding Remarks: Anchorage Brewing Company uses lemon peel, Indian coriander, and black peppercorns to spice their Whiteout Wit; then they triple ferment it, age it in French Chardonnay barrels, and add brettanomyces (a yeast that is typically used in wine-making) to finish off this creation.  The end result tastes better than it smells–as Ernie said, “I like the flavor, but it smells like piss.”  It does manage, however, to be a fascinating liquid form of wine and cheese.  Yes, bizarre, we know; but that Swiss cheese note was definitely prevalent.  It was not like a regular beer; it was more like wine with a summer ale mixed in.  But the lemony citrus gave it its Witbier character (the spice notes were less identifiable) and when we averaged out the ranking everyone gave it, the Whiteout Wit got a solid 3 Pint Glasses.

Here are the specific scorings of our communal tasting:

Patsy: 4
Shaun: 3.5
Ally: 3.5
Janise: 3
Neel: 3
Ernie: 2.5
Mike: 2

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A Beer By Any Other Name Would Taste As Spiced: The Witbier.

After celebrating July American-Style, we head back to Belgium for the fine month of August. As we begin to enjoy–and savor–the last month of summer, we will explore a light yet flavorful style. Thus, Witbiers are the focus of our palates this month.

All Witbiers are wheat beers, but not all wheat beers are Witbiers (repeat that three times fast). Wheat beers are brewed with a high proportion of wheat, and are top-fermented–thus, ales. The Witbier, which is derived from the Flemish name for “white beer,” should not be confused with the Weissbier, which is German for “white beer.”  Confusing, no?  Well, to clarify, let’s look at the numbers: Weissbiers are brewed with 50% wheat and 50% malt, while Witbiers are brewed with more wheat and are flavored with an array of spices–from coriander to orange zest.  The wheat protein, along with the yeast that remains suspended in the brew, makes the Witbier look cloudy, or white, when cold.

BEER SNOB ALERT: As we begin this exploration, we kindly ask you to ignore the fact that Blue Moon claims to be a Witbier. It is not (really) a Witbier. Alright, maybe it’s a Belgian-style Witbier in some right, but it is certainly not indicative of the style. Do not be fooled!

The History

The Witbier has its origin in 14th century Belgian monasteries. France also likes ’em and calls the style “bière blanche.” And of course, American breweries have adopted this style as their own and sometimes refer to them as “Wittes.” The more names for a style, the more delicious the beer (if the Witbier is any indication).

If you’re hopped out from last month’s serving of brutal IPAs, this month is the one for you: the Witbier was created in medieval times as an alternative to using hops. Instead of dousing the brew in hops, a mixture of spices called “gruit” was introduced to preserve the ale. Historically, gruit included a wide variety of spices and herbs; now, it’s largely coriander and orange, and sometimes a nontraditional ingredient.

The Witbier was insanely popular among farmers in Belgium for the same reason that Saisons were: they were light, crisp, and had a low ABV.  (Witbiers typically range from 4.0-7.0%.)  These farmers, predominantly of grain and beet, hailed from east Belgium, where two breweries developed two different Witbiers: one from Louvain, and the other from a small town called…wait for it…Hoegaarden. Believe it or not, the beer from Louvain was more popular throughout Europe (where it was called “bière blanche de Louvain”) than its Hoegaarden counterpart–clearly history vilifies them in the end.

While both were widely consumed for centuries, the inception of the lager in the 19th century and, later, the decline of beer consumption post-WWII led to the Hoegaarden facility shutting down production in the mid-1950s.  (Louvain followed in suit in the mid-1970s.) But it wasn’t long before milkman-turned-beer savior Pierre Celis decided to revive the Witbier in the 1960s at the Hoegaarden facility.

To call the revival a success is an understatement: Hoegaarden is now owned by megabeeropolis Interbrew (apparently a forced sale between Celis and Interbrew), and Celis has since opened a brewery in Austin, TX and produces Celis White.

Pierre Selis, the man who resurrected the Witbier

So, what to expect from a Witbier?

Sight: The Witbier is unfiltered, and thus quite cloudy. The color can range from a pale yellow (think Hoegaarden) to a medium orange.  As mentioned, the cloudiness is also due to the suspended yeast and wheat proteins seen when the beer is cold.

Smell: Coriander, citrusy, and peppery, with a light grain aroma.

Flavor: Witbiers are always spiced, so coriander and other spices will be prevalent, but not overpowering.  (Coriander, when not used appropriately, can give it a slight ham-like taste.)  There may be a sweetness, like honey or vanilla, and citrus, like orange peel.  It could be very slightly hopped, and due to the presence of lactic acid, could be a little tart or sour, like a lambic.  Witbiers are the ones you tend to see served with a lemon; but be forewarned: that will obviously change the flavor profile of the beer.

Feel: Crisp but a little creamy, with a thin-to-medium mouthfeel and lively carbonation.

So call it what you will–a Witte, a Bière Blanche, or a Witbier–but whatever your preference, this month, cool down during the dog days of summer with this fine Belgian (or Belgian-style) wheat beer.  Cheers!

Categories: Witbier | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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