Saturday, 19 May 2012

Brouwerij St. Bernardus St. Bernardus Witbier

Good evening all. As a result of final exams and a variety of other academic pursuits, this blog has been laying dormant for the past week or so. However, tonight I've chosen to break my self-imposed blogging blackout as a respite from revision, with the intention of resuming normal service in less than two weeks. The subject of this much-needed break is St. Bernardus Witbier, a Witbier (Belgian Wheat Beer) from Brouwerij St. Bernardus (Watou, Belgium). I'm a big fan of German Hefeweizens, but looking back over my consumption history I can't really name any Witbiers I've had besides Hoegaarden Original and Hitachino Nest White Ale. What better way to rectify that than with one of the most highly rated Witbiers then? Let's see what all the fuss is about after the pic....

St. Bernardus Witbier (5.5% ABV) pours a cloudy golden colour with a thick white head that dissipates relatively quickly to a patchy covering over the surface of the beer. Much paler than the German Hefeweizens that I'm used to, but it still looks good regardless. The aroma is quite light, with phenolic spice/coriander up front and immediately apparent, supported by cloves and wheat in the background among the yeast-derived aromas. It's very reminiscent of a saison but without the earthy, estery tones, and there's no real sense of the malt base behind the noticeable contributions from the yeast. Some bittering hops are also present, lending a slightly herbal quality to the nose. The taste continues this theme, with plenty of phenolic spice coming through during drinking accompanied by bittering hops, some malty sweetness and a slightly buttery texture in the finish. None of the flavours cloy on the palette, and there's also no bitterness in the finish. I certainly can't sense many characteristic wheat flavours during drinking, but they present themselves slightly in the aftertaste along with the remnants of the spice and the bittering hops. Some citrus fruits are also detectable towards the final stages of the beer, along with a larger injection of the wheat flavours. Altogether, this beer isn't far off from tasting like a Helles lager or a German Pilsner, just with a bit of phenolic spice added. Not a bad thing, but certainly not what I was expecting! The mouthfeel is quite light and the beer is moderately carbonated, which doesn't mask the subtle flavours and compliments the drinking experience very well. Overall, an interesting Witbier with lots of characteristic Belgian flavours and a subdued yet noticeable contribution from the wheat. I was expecting a bit more based on the reverence it appears to have garnered on the standard review websites, but it was still a thoroughly enjoyable drinking experience. I'd still rather pick up a hefe in comparison to something like this, but it's definitely worth trying once!

Until next time....

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