- Blanche de Chambly: I mention that this is soon to be rare as the Bar Towellers have discovered Sleemans has pulled the Unibroue line from The Beer Store in Ontario without any real notice. I picked up this last one six-pack from my local LCBO, a beaten up box sitting on a shelf marked for some other ale...or more likely some eastern European lager. Two years ago I noted this 5% beer's dryness and pronounced lemonosity. That still is quite fair. Clouded yellow straw ale under white rim and slight foam, with a sharp lemon merengue pie aroma. In the mouth there is only a little creaminess that you would expect from the usual raw wheat in the grain. There is both lemon zest in the hops and lemon juice in the finish. At the beginning there is a nice roundness and milk yeastiness that fades into quite a dry ending. The 4% of BAers who say nay cite the tart citrus forefront. Bottled 2 May 2006 according to the handy dandy date code.
- Blanche des Anges: At 4% a full percent lighter than Unibroue's offering but fair heavier in terms of looks with a decidedly dark tan yeasty pour at the end. Oh dear. This is poor. Quite bone dry, light clouded brownish amber with just a rim of white foam, some peach on the nose but mmixed with other unhappier aromas. Even less wheaty richness. Brewed by St. Arnould from Quebec. Five out of five BAers give a thumbs down. One points out the taste I am trying to identify - cloves - but it is like cloves and cardboard upon which someone has written a whole bunch of stuff in chalk with lime juice and more cloves. Shudder. I just remembered how few bottles I pour down the sink. Bought three weeks ago and best before January 2007 so that is not to blame. I likely would have been happier if I had not swirled and not poured in the yeast.
- Southampton Double White: Noted on the label as XXII Reserve. Apparently part of a line by the brewer under that name. Burnished gold and lemon yellow clouded ale under a white rim. In a way this is antithetical to wit, more relaxant than refreshment. It is strong at 9% but still has the orange peel and corriander, forefront and fresh. The malt is grainy and wheat creamy, morning porridge fresh, pear and lighter summer plum. Yet there is a lime lolly pop effect from the the herb and the sweetness of the alcohol, though for the most part it is yeast milky, light-husky and sweet herbal green. It is pushing Thai. The brewer speaks here. Dang high regard from the BAers.
- La Blanche Cheval Blanc: by Quebec's Les Brasseurs RJ. I am kind of worried about another dip into this pond. Clouded bright yellowy-straw ale under thin foam and rim with the aroma of steamed veggies with hint of lemon lolly pop. In the mouth, not that bad because there is not that much taste. A very light ale with some citrus and cream of wheat flavour but not that much else...except a sort of steamed vegetable-y-ness. Dry finish. The things I do for you, the reader. Blork thought it a cross between a pilsner and a white and liked it. Too much drying hops for me. Wits whould be moreish but I find this a little lessish. Commentators repeat that this would be good on a cold day - which means ice cold and what isn't? But twelve BAers give it the thumbs up so what do I know?
- Weyerbacher Blanche: very light clouded gold ale under the fastest dissipating head I have ever seen. It was like watching time lapse photography, it dies so fast. The yeast was caked and needed a good shaking to coax it out into the glass. A very light take on the style with some spice in the yeast: very distinct seville orange and lemon zestinesses with corriander seed, maybe too much of the seed. But no great wheat cream from the malt. It's like mustard without the pretzel. I don't know why that is what comes to mind but that is it - not bad tasting by any respect but not balanced. The brewer says:
Blanche is a thirst quenching beer that combines character and flavor with a moderate alcohol content. Just try a bottle. In the nose you'll notice spiciness from the coriander seeds and dried curacao orange peels added during the boil. In the mouth you'll find a mild and refreshing ale with a hint of dryness from the wheat ingredients. A clean finish follows with just a hint of tart spiciness.My only quibble is with the use of the words "a hint". BAers vote? 11% no.
- Hitachino Nest White Ale: from Japan in a large bottle for about 7.50 USD at Tully's of Maine. Light gold ale under white foam with active carbonation. Sweet floral spice on the nose. In the mouth, spice and hops combine for a full floral effect but with plenty of balance from the creamy wheat, malt or otherwise. This is an extremely inviting and intriguing beer: lime, lavendar and freesia over cream of wheat as well as a bit of whole wheat huskiness. Honey and white pepper, too. The yeast is milky, adding to the cream of wheat effect - especially on the swirl. Not a slave to the Hoegaarden style, this is a lesson in good thoughtful brewing. 96% of BAers say yes.
- Swallow Wit: from Middle Ages in Syracuse, NY and a message for us all. Lightly clouded and active burnished gold ale under white foam. Dry yet with a good measure of rolled raw wheat graininess. Not a massive citrus mouthful but that is good. Yet lemon, lime and orange are all there in the middle before more drying at the end. The brewer says it is a "wheat beer brewed in the style of a Belgian wit bier while using British ingredients." That last bit is very interesting as I would not have guessed. Oddly, 15% of BAers do not like it, looking for more spice. I am fine with the spice levels - this isn't a dubbel or anything.
- Blanche de Namur: from Brasserie du Bocq, Purnode, Belgium. This 750 ml cost 6.99 USD and is one of the best whites I have ever had. Perfect balance before the swirl, zippy fresh straw-white cream ale under fine white foam and rim. The ale is bright with acid but not too reliant on one citrus note over another, just crisp. There is rolled wheat as well as green from the corriander seed and lurking licorice which opens up as a subtle halo as the beer slides. After the swirl, the brew is white cloudier still and the cream yeast comes forward marrying with but not overwhelming the wheat. Fabulous and at 4.5% one that you can enjoy with some gusto. Every single BAer begs you to try this one. Begs you.
- Blanche de Quebec: from Schoune in St-Polycarpe, Quebec and the sixth bottle in the mixed six I otherwise reviewed in The Week of Schoune. I think this is their best. The classic clouded white-straw under white foam and rim. Active carbonation. This is one of the best in this group. More lemon-cream biscuit than the others with a nice if roughish edge to the hop and spice that works. The spice is nutmeg and allspice. The yeast more milky than creamy. Bigger than its 4.1%. The 40% nay-saying of BAers makes no sense except that it is only 2 out of five who find fault. An excellent low alcohol ale.
Belgium: The Week of Nine Whites
Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.
Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."
Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."