A new batch of Double White from Southampton Publick House is coming out now in the Atlantic states. This is one of the standard beers in the "XXII Reserve" series---beers that are bottled in 22 ounce bottles. The press release I received prompted me to inspect my cellar and sure enough I did have a Double White set back. I picked up this particular bottle at a shop in Northport. That was on the day I was tooling around the island in my car doing research for my Long Island Beer Guide. The lady at the check-out flattered me by asking for my ID when I presented the Double White.
I recorded some audio tasting notes for the Double White and put that segment into my podcast. But I'll spell out my reactions below.
I believe a beer should be labeled in such a way that the beer drinker knows what to expect. We all know what White beers or Witbiers taste like. Who hasn't had a Hoegaarden (at least)? A casual drinker of Belgian beers will also be familiar with the category "Dubbel" or Double. So what the label tells us is that the Double White will be a higher alcohol White Ale. And that's exactly what you get.
There's a fair amount of carbonation in the Double White, but that doesn't work to produce a huge head (something I almost expect from a wheat beer, but I've never seen a huge head on a Hoegaarden or Celis White either). (Personal/historical note: I drank Celis White for years when I lived in Texas, before I ever heard of Hoegaarden. In 2001 I was in Leuven and wandered into a beer shop and found cases of beer with the "Celis White" label, complete with the words "Brewed in Austin, Texas". When I visited Austin in 2003, the hotel I was staying in had a Celis White tap. I have yet to sample Michigan Brewing Company's incarnation of the Celis label.) Okay, back to the Double White.
My personal enjoyment factor for the Double White is pretty high. I pick up bottles of it habitually because I like drinking it. I never thought about sitting down and comparing it to any style guidelines, because there are no guidelines for a Double White. However, I did get some tasting notes from the Southampton Ales and Lagers press release:
Light in color with a refreshing orangey tartness and a hint of coriander flavor. There is also a detectable alcohol "warming" that is balanced by a pleasant residual sweetness. (Original Gravity: 16.8 Plato, 7.2% Alcohol by volume)
The "warming" is certainly there. I do get the orangey tartness from the curacao orange peel, but what unable (with my palate) to decide if the tartness was crisp or pithy. Of course, my taster might be broken because I found the coriander dimension to be subtle. I expected this beer to be more cloudy. I swirled the bottle to kick up some of the sediment, but without much success. The advertised residual sweetness is certainly present. Basically, this beer delivers what it promises.
While I really enjoy this beer I think I would like it even better if it had lighter body and a drier finish. Sweetness in this beer dominates the finish. I don't know if it's possible to do a Double White that has a dry, crisp finish. When you start at 16.9 Plato, you need some serious fermentation management to get the apparent attenuation close to 90% which is what I think would make this beer perfect.