Wit beers, the Belgian style wheat as opposed to the American or German style wheat beers, has to be considered one of the great “gateway styles” for craft beer. Look at the success of Blue Moon over the last decade or so. Someone can be handed a pint of Blue Moon and it is not so different from the pale American light lager they were drinking, yet it is more complex and interesting. Now that same drinker looks across the tap handles at a more curated selection of beers and finds a wit from a craft brewery not owned by Coors. Sure, it’s a baby step approach to easing into drinking something other than beer sold primarily in quantities of thirty cans.
How does Crazy Mountain Brewery’s Lava Lake Wit work in this paradigm:
This is the kind of beer you hope that a taproom has available for your less adventurous drinking friend when you want to throw down some double IPAs. Granted, he may be standing a lot longer than you because at 5.2% ABV and 15 IBU this is not a grand departure from the Blue Moon he had at the airport while waiting for his flight to DIA. Granted, bittering with Kent Goldings and Saaz hops was never going to produce a hop bomb unless the brewery really amped things up.
The one place where wits can fail is in the spicing or adjuncts added to the brewing process. I do not know if there is a generally accepted menu of ingredients but you usually see things like coriander and orange peel, sweet or bitter, added to wits. These spices and adjuncts add flavor and character without adding bitterness or body to the beer. Although the description lists chamomile, coriander, grains of paradise, and sweet orange peel for Lava Lake Wit there is a light hand when it comes to the additions. Nothing overpowers the sum of the beer. It’s an admirable show of brewer’s restraint.
A lot of people will deride an easy drinking wit as a “lawnmower beer,” but I do not think that is pejorative in any way, shape, or form. Given that cracking open a strong beer clocking in with a high IBU on a hot and humid day is akin to chemical warfare there is most definitely a place in our arsenal of craft beers for something that drinks lighter:
See what others are saying about Crazy Mountain Brewery Lava Lake Wit @ Beeradvocate.