What Is White Beer and Why Do You Want It?

The time has come to put away your dark stouts and porters and to liven up your drinking with something a bit...white. While stout and porter are excellent options for long, dark winter nights, springtime is a time for a different beer. It's time to start drinking white beer. What is this option and why should you care? Here's a look at what you can expect.

White beer is from Belgium (for the most part, though you will find similar brews from other areas). It is brewed with both raw wheat and pale barley malt – more wheat than in other beers. The brew is also spiced up a bit, which adds to its refreshing characteristics. Citrus fruits are often used here, as are spices like coriander. Different brewers have different proprietary spice mixtures. All of them are served unfiltered. This gives you a cloudy brew instead of a clear one.

If you choose to order a white beer in your favorite pub, make sure that you order "white" and not "wheat" beer. While they are both descended from the same ancestors, "wheat" is a Bavarian derivative and is not spiced. It uses yeast to provide the flavors – hefeweizen is a good example of this. Of course fermentation temperature can manipulate the yeast to provide a wide variety of phenols that affect flavor and aroma of any beer.

There are a few other qualities that you should know about this style. One is that these brews are more thirst quenching than others out there. They are also very crisp and often fruity. Those characteristics give this brew the ability to pair with almost any food option that you might want, ranging from seafood to burgers and everything in between. White beers are also lower in alcohol than many other styles, so you can drink a bit more without worrying about going overboard.

You should pour your brew into a tall glass – a coupe-shaped one. These brews have a very fluffy head and this style of glass allows you to enjoy all the aroma, texture and flavor that are available. If you are used to drinking beer with little to no head at all, you should put that particular preconception away before sampling this refreshing brew. 

Finally, make sure that you actually drink the yeast that's layered at the bottom of the bottle. Swirl the beer around in the bottle before you pour it into a glass and you will find that it offers a lot more flavor and character.

Posted on May 1, 2009 .