Belgian Witbier

Glassware: Tulip
  • 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.


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