Witbier: history, characteristics and pairings
Witbier derives from the Flemish and it is known in French with the name Bière blanche. It is rooted in the ancient tradition of the Belgian brew tradition and started to gain popularity between XVIII and XIX century in the eastern villages of Bruxelles. Then, it was replaced by the lager beers but take its place again in the last twenty years.
Witbier: historical overview and production
In the Medieval period, beer wasn’t flavoured with hop, rather adding “gruit”, a mix of aromatic herbs that gave them the right taste and preserved the beer.
This custom is kept also during the present process of beer production; the main characteristic of witbiers is that wheat and spices like coriander, cardamom and orange zest are added to the basic ingredients to give a fresh and spicy taste with a sour aftertaste. The low alcoholic volume generally doesn’t exceed 5 degrees; its taste make it particularly quaffable and refreshing, perfect to fight the hot summer days.
Witbier has white foam, thick and well structured. The colour is a light straw yellow, where the name comes from, whereas the yeasts on the surface gave it the typical cloudy colour.
Serve it slightly cold in stems with a large rim to enhance its foam.
The most famous witbier is, for sure, the Hoegaarden, the blondest of the blonder. It has been produced from the half of the ‘60s in the rural town with the same name situated in the west part of Brussels. The Hoegaarden has a spumy foam, lasting and perfumed of spices, citrus, honey and yeasts.
Their velvety taste makes these beers the perfect pairing with different delicate dishes like fish carpaccio, raw crustaceans seasoned only with a drizzle of oil, lemon risotto or tagliolini with herbs, fresh cheeses, white meats and simple desserts like fruit tarts or dried pastries.