Last year I did a side by side of four wittes or wits, Belgian white beers. Here I repeat the inclusion of the elemental wit, Hoegaarden, as a benchmark for comparison with the white in the middle from Allagash, a micro from Maine focusing on Belgian beers, and Blue Moon, which is actually produced by the new now US mega macro called Molson Coors.
- Hoegaarden: My notes on the Hoegaarden from 17 months ago are not very helpful. I must have learned something about describing beer. It is cloudy and light lemon-straw coloured with a white rim. There is some carbonation but in the mouth there is a watery and flat aspect to the body that is moreish rather than dead. There is plenty of corriander that is more green than spicy. There is also a good measure of citrus which is orangy but not in the chewy way that goldings can make an IPA orangey. I am looking forward to pouring half a bottle in some Thai shrimp tonight. This is a standard as befits the fact that its revival in the 60s preserved the style.
- Blue Moon: Click on the picture to the right. As you can see Blue Moon on the right is much darker much more active and, when I opened it, I was struck by how much more floral or perfumey its aroma was. I am not intensely fond of this beer. There is an aspect to it that I find forced or even slightly chemical in nature. To be clear it is no way near as offensive as the Brussels White I tried in June 2004, one of the worst beers I have ever tried and Coors should be praised for keeping the style in its roster. But it is not an A-lister and, frankly, how long is your life going to be? It does share the watery aspect that I think is an important element of the style and also has a nice strongly orangey component. It is on the hops alone where I think this beer falls down. Belgian hops are often allowed to sit for a long time before use. This drives much of the green and acid sharpness from them leaving something of a shadow presence in the ale. If Blue Moon were to have this more recessive hop characteristic I think I would like it better.
- Allagash Wit: I brought a 750 ml wiretop of this back from our summer trip to Maine. Allagash in Portland is New England's only Belgian brewer as far as I can tell. It is slightly darker and bigger than Hoegaarden but very similar in style. It is cloudy a bit less carbonated and carries a big mousse head. There is a notch more richness and even a little creaminess in the glass. More orangely, too, with a nice green note in the middle that is not particularly corrianderish - maybe even passion fruit and nutmeg. There is also a dryness to the finish. Very attractive.