Wit or white ale are the gateway drug into the craft beer addiction. You wake up one morning from a Natty Light hangover, realize that you graduated from college almost a year ago, and decide that on your next night out you will not be that guy crushing light lagers.
At the bar you are offered a plethora of choices—unless it is one of those bars with two taps reserved for Budweiser and Busch Light, which are always classy establishments where no one ever gets stabbed with an improvised edged weapon—that almost causes paralysis by analysis. Do I want a European pilsner? Or is an IPA a better choice? A Russian imperial stout sounds like a lineup of ex-Soviet hockey players, but is it right for me just a few days removed from wondering which beer came in 30 packs for less than $20?
You look around and notice a lot of people have tall glasses of a hazy, golden beer with an orange. How bad can it be if it has an orange in it? What is that beer that every girl in a sundress and flower crown is drinking on the patio? It’s Blue Moon. What’s a Blue Moon? A Belgian style white ale.
Here is the deal. There is a reason that Coors made Blue Moon its entry into the faux craft movement…people want different that is not too different. You cannot expect people to go from drinking beer measured in twelve pack increments to throwing back IPAs with IBU ratings in the seventies. They are going to run back to the beer cooler for something familiar and never come back. You need a gateway drug. Belgian style white beers are that gateway drug.
Revolution Brewing understands this and brews Bottom Up Wit:
How is Revolution Brewing’s wit different than Blue Moon or Shock Top? Not so much. These are easy drinking beers. How easy? At 5.0% ABV and 14 IBU it compares favorably, statistically speaking, to a Bud Light at an estimated 4.1% ABV and 8-10 IBU. With a little coriander and orange peel there is a lot more going on in terms of flavor, so you feel like you are drinking something that is more artisanal or original than a light lager.
At the end of the day white ales or wits are fairly boring. Maybe it is a style of beer that someone will do something original with and blow people away, but until then I will stand by my assertion that brewers keep this style in their quiver to have something almost anyone can drink when visiting a taproom:
Here is what other people are saying about Revolution Brewing Bottom Up Wit @ Beeradvocate
Posted in Beer
Tagged ABV, ale, beer, Belgian, Blue Moon, Chicago, coriander, hops, IBU, Illinois, orange peel, Revolution Brewing, white ale, wit, yeast
The downside to my adventures in kegging homebrew is that my rookie mistakes and general procrastination have forced me to wander the coolers full of six packs of craft beer aimlessly wondering why one beer would be better than another.
Recently, I was disappointed with New Belgium’s Spring Blonde but the beer I was looking for originally finally showed up on the shores of Iowa. I picked up a six pack of Snapshot and got around to pouring a glass:
Is this beer really this light or is it just my camera? Yep, it’s as light as pale straw or drought stricken grass in eastern Colorado.
The light color of the beer should have been an indicator of what was to come, but I was hoping for a revelation. Instead I got a thin beer with almost no punch of flavor. It is supposed to have Cascade hops providing bitterness and aroma, but there was almost no traditional beer bitterness. The official description notes how Snapshot is supposed to use some of the same yeast/bacteria utilized in their sour beer program to provide a punch. Sorry, I tasted none of that.
The beer just tastes flat, not in terms of carbonation, but flavor. I used to take for granted that New Belgium Brewery was going to produce excellent craft beers that I would enjoy drinking. However, the beers coming from its tanks recently come across as derivative and uninspired. It’s an expensive alternative to your traditional American macro brews:
Next to Snapshot was another decal noting a new arrival, Samuel Adams Cold Snap:
This is an interesting beer. The stated bitterness (7 IBU) is so low as to be non-existent, but the inclusion of a host of other spices–orange peel, plum, hibiscus and fresh ground coriander according to the beer’s website—provide a flavor that compensates for a lack of traditional beer bittering.
With a name like Cold Snap I was expecting more of a winter beer with heavier malts or more bitterness, but Cold Snap is like a great lawnmower beer. It drinks light without being watery—yes I am looking at you Snapshot—and it has enough flavor to be interesting without overpowering your mouth.
About the worst thing I could say about Cold Snap is that it would be a beer that you would get bored with fairly quickly, but maybe that is why Samuel Adams decided to make it part of the seasonal rotation. Nonetheless, it’s got potential:
Posted in Beer
Tagged beer, Boston Beer Company, Cascade, Cold Snap, coriander, fresh ground coriander, Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble, hibiscus, hops, Jim Koch, New Belgium Brewery, orange peel, plum, Samuel Adams, Snapshot, Spring Blonde