By Jeff Wheeler, Brand Development Manager, Del Papa Distributing
The Belgian White or Witbier style is a complex, refreshing brew popularized in recent years by multinational breweries such as Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors. Belgian Wits are always spiced, generally with a variety of additives such as coriander and orange peel, unlike its German counterpart of the same name which contain no spices at all. The term “white” refers to the unfiltered cloudy appearance the wheat imparts to the beer. Brewing with wheat also creates a more chewy liquid while still maintaining its drinkability and overall clean flavor profile.
This style was not always as readily available as it is today. Witbier as a whole fell out of popularity in Europe around the turn of the century. What used to be a flagship style produced across Belgium and the Netherlands by many local and regional breweries dwindled to zero after the last wit brewery, Tomlin, in the village of Hoegaarden shut its doors in 1957. Just over 10 years later, in an attempt to preserve heritage and good beer, a milk man by the name of Pierre Celis boiled up a batch of Tomlins original recipe in his trusty copper kettle thereby rebirthing a much loved brew into the world for its encore debut. His initiative created what is now the brewery Hoegaarden.
What an encore it has been! Not only has Hoegaarden been enjoyed the world over, but due to its popularity, the American Style Belgian White was born. No better example of this exists than Shock Top Belgian White, a crisp, clean, unfiltered wheat ale thoughtfully brewed by Anheuser-Busch. When many of us look back to our first full-flavor beer experiences, I would assume they did not include Dogfish 120 minute IPA or Sierra Nevada Hoptimum, and if they did, there is a very good chance it was not the desired experience. The beginning of a beer love affair typically starts with a lighter option and proceeds to plummet down the rabbit hop hole. Shocktop Belgian White is one of those beers that can be guzzled on a hot summer day or sipped during a blustery fall afternoon. It is truly a quality liquid that begs respect from even the most seasoned beer drinkers among us.
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