The first beer we are BrewViewing for BREWERY OF THE MONTH – October 2015, is for ST. BERNARDUS WIT. Considered one of the very best Witbiers in the world beer industry, it had been some time since we last enjoyed this classic, and looked forward to tasting it again.
BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION FROM ST. BERNARDUS
Style category: Belgian Witbier
St. Bernardus Wit is a traditional Belgian white beer developed and brewed in collaboration with the legendary Master Brewer Pierre Celis. This ale is very pale (whitish-yellow color) and quite hazy. The head is white and dense. In aroma, it has a wheaty, apple-like, tartness; herbal-spicy notes with coriander and orangey fruitness and honeyish sweetness. Very refreshing, a perfect thirst quencher !
2006 World Beer Championship – Gold Medal
OUR BREWVIEW OF BROUWERIJ ST. BERNARDUS WIT
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
5.5% ABV. We poured it at 40°F (verified with a VacuVin snap thermometer on the bottle) in the signature St. Bernardus open-mouthed goblet. It poured a light golden color, with an SRM value around a 3 – 4. It easily poured a voluminous white colored, dense, creamy 3-finger head with tight bubbles. Rim color variation- slightly lighter than the beer body.
The meniscus is medium rising- The Brussels lacework the beer leaves behind as the head collapses, is even sheeted (We ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). There is a heavy cloudy haze to the beer, due to the bottle conditioning (second fermentation with yeast in the bottle). The head retention lasts a relatively long while for a Witbier- the carbonation and acidity levels in this style of beer can cause foam to dissipate quickly.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
Upon the initial opening of the bottle and glass pour we could smell the wonderful, classic Witbier aromas from about 1.5 feet away from the glass itself. Fresh St. Bernardus house yeast aromas mixed with strong aromas of curacao orange peel, coriander, and the world famous Watou hops from the field next to the brewery.
The aromas from the yeast are like freshly baked honey bread… This is the characteristic of the yeast that makes the St. Bernardus beers unique. For those who have enjoyed their beers for a while now, know what we mean! It is what sets this Witbier apart from all others. Finger citron lemon pith / meyer lemon pith aromas express themselves as drinking time goes on, along with the hibiscus honey aromas.
Citrusy tartness with a well-balanced hop dryness, and a hibiscus honey sweetness. The spiciness rom the coriander has a moderate white pepperiness. The yeast almost lends a ginger spice flavor to the beer. This is a beer whose flavor complexities change for the better as the beer warms up; we cannot say that about many other Witbiers we have tried over the years. Many Witbiers we have tried in the past lost their flavor character as those beers warmed up- St. Bernardus Wit only gets better. It develops almost a lemon cake cookie-dough flavor- trust us, that’s a great thing!
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
There is a tickle on the front of the tongue from the effervescence level- then it hits the top back and sides of the mouth. Light to (bordering on) medium bodied, this beer is extremely easy to drink. The tart, crisp, refreshing quality of this beer definitely invites you to that next sip.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: We highly suggest rich, blue veined cheeses, washed rind cheeses, goat cheese with herbs. Mozzarella and tomato basil salad, Charcuterie platter with chicken pate.
ENTRÈES: Seafood dishes, of course! The classic Moules-Frites, (with the mussels cooked with the beer) served with hop shoots (if you can get them) or white asparagus. Oysters, clams, fish ceviche or tartare. Thai or Mexican foods flavored with lemon, lime, or other citrus. A wide variety of sushi of course… Chicken with lime and leeks at ‘t Hommelhof would pair very nicely with this beer.
DESSERTS: Any type of lemon or lime dessert would be excellent- Key lime pie, lemon tarts, lemon cheesecake, Lemon Meringue pie. Stick with desserts that are tart.
St. Bernardus Wit is (in our opinion) the standard of what Belgian Witbiers should be measured against.
It is a MASTERFUL balance of citrusy tartness, hop bitterness, and yeast spicyness (with a bit a honeyish sweetness).
World class for sure, as all St. Bernardus beers are. If you have friends who enjoy white wines or Sherries, they would enjoy the crispness of this one. In fact, as we write this, we are planning a private tasting event (on October 17, 2015) where super high quality wines will be tasted, along with top class Belgian beers. St. Bernardus Wit will be among them without a doubt. We will introduce this beer to our guests who normally enjoy white wines.
This beer is a must have- especially for all fans of wheat beers. Refreshing for the summertime, yet complex enough to enjoy during a fall or winter holiday dish to cut through the richness of many of those dishes. Seek this beer out for sure… Op uw gezondheid! à votre santé!
St. Bernardus Wit is available in the United States from D&V INTERNATIONAL.