Belgian Witbier

Glassware: French jelly glass
  • Belgium
  • Ale
  • ABV = 4.5 – 5.5% (Normal)^
  • IBU = 8-20
  • SRM = 2-4
A straw-coloured, wheat-based Belgian ale with flavours of citrus and spice.

Similar in balance to German Weissbier, but with spice and citrus character coming from additions rather than the yeast.

Appearance:

  • Colour^ = Straw to light gold; made white by haze
  • Clarity = Hazy

Key Aromas & Flavours:

Aroma
  • Malt = Moderate; malty sweet, with a light grainy, spicy wheat aroma (often with notes of honey and/or vanilla)
  • Yeast = Low; spicy
  • Hops = None to low; spicy-herbal, if present
  • Other = Moderate perfumy coriander, often with a complex herbal, spicy, or peppery note; moderate zesty, citrus-orange fruitiness
Flavour
  • Malt = Moderate; grainy-sweet (often with a honey and/or vanilla character), plus a low bready wheat flavour
  • Yeast = Low; spicy
  • Hops = None to low; spicy-earthy, if present
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = Low
  • Other = Moderate zesty, citrus-orange fruitiness; moderate herbal-spicy flavours, which may include coriander and other spices (Optional: a very light lactic sourness)
  • Balance = Towards the malt; hop bitterness is low and doesn’t interfere with the fruit and spice flavours
Aftertaste/Finish

Refreshingly crisp with a dry, often tart finish

Mouthfeel:

  • Body = Medium
  • Carbonation = High
  • Creaminess = Often has a smoothness and light creaminess from the unmalted wheat and the occasional oats

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Typically 50% unmalted wheat, plus 50% Pilsner malt; may use up to 5-10% raw oats
  • Yeast = Belgian ale yeast
  • Hops = Continental hop varietals, very low level
  • Other = Spices of freshly-ground coriander and Curaçao orange peel are characteristic. Other spices (ie. chamomile, cumin, cinnamon, Grains of Paradise) may be used for complexity but are much less prominent.
  • Process = (Optional: May be produced with a very limited lactic fermentation or the addition of lactic acid)

Historical Development:

A 400-year-old Belgian beer style that died out in the 1950s; it was later revived by Pierre Celis at Hoegaarden, and has grown steadily in popularity over time, both with modern craft brewers and mass-market producers who see it as a somewhat fruity summer seasonal beer.


Commercial Examples:

Hoegaarden Wit, St. Bernardus Witbier, Allagash White


^Sourced from the Cicerone Certification Program’s International Certified Beer Server Syllabus.
All other information is sourced from the BCJP 2015 Style Guidelines.


Discovering Beer is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone® Certification Program.


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