Greetings brewfiles, Bangkok Seven here. I’m back with another beer blog for your perusal and distraction. Today’s subject is my current favorite beverage—Limburgse Witte.
I first tried Witte in a gogo bar. The owner got the crazy idea in his head that some of his customers had discerning taste, and would prefer to drink better beer than the usual low-end fare. He put a short list of premium Belgians on the menu, and after sampling them all I found that I liked Witte the best. In fact, soon found myself going there just for the Witte. Today, it’s my go-to every time I see it on offer. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say I drink between 5 and 10 Wittes per week. I just love the stuff. Let’s talk about it:
First off, I believe I hit the nail on the head pronunciation-wise (see the title of this article). It’s pronounced “vitteh.” I’m confident because I put it into Google Translate and hit the ‘listen’ button, and as we all know, Google is never wrong. As its name implies, Witte is a witbier, or white beer, or wheat beer. Think Hoegaarden, but less pretentious and more refined. I’ve seen some online armchair beer reviewers (read “unwashed masses”) complain that Witte lacks the punch of other beers of its kind. But that’s precisely why I like it. There’s no urgency to beat the drinker senseless with over-the-top notes of this fruit or that flower. Instead, Witte hovers in the eye of the flavor storm. The sensation on the palate is one of subtlety, similar to the difference between old world and new world wines. Big and bold it is not. Rather, it is mild-mannered, even-tempered, and self-assured. The beer version of a proper gentleman.
Traditional witbier can be traced back to the 1400s when monks discovered it by accident whilst experimenting with different brewing techniques. At the time it gained a niche following in Belgium and surrounding countries. However, the white beers had all but died out by the start of the 20th Century due to widespread consumer demand for pils. The Cornelisson brewery unveiled their Witte recipe in 1993. Since then, it’s been a top award winner year after year, most recently taking gold at the World Beer Awards in 2018 and 2019.
At 5%, Witte is an easy-drinking brew that refreshes from head to toe. Like a shower for your psyche. It’s a perfect hot weather beer, which I suppose is why it’s so adored in Bangkok. Each sip feels like the hot chick on the block is throwing a pool party in your mouth. It’s unfiltered and top fermented, which means that the yeast rises to the top of the beer, where it can be skimmed off. It also means the yeast is fermenting at a high temperature. That creates the resulting banana-esque esters, producing the lovely lighter, more cheerful notes characteristic of a great white beer.
The ingredients are all-natural: yeast, hops, malt, wheat, oats, orange peel, and coriander. In the glass, the pale yellow liquid appears to glow—perhaps with happiness, which is transferred to the drinker by imbibing. The foam, depending on the pour, is a sight to behold. A soft pour produces none at all, while a vigorous pour can result in a 3-inch thick layer of cumulo-beerbus cloud atop the glass. On initial tasting there’s mild malt with citrus and tropical fruit that transitions smoothly to sweet bready banana, and finishing with slight bitterness and zest, which compete for a sparkling pop that demands another sip.
It pairs excellently with fish and mussels, and even with desserts like sorbet, lemon meringue, and apple pie. But in this humble beer enthusiast’s opinion, it pairs best with a hot day. It is liquid refrigeration. A cold compress for the soul. It quenches ones thirst like the answer to a question—a question you didn’t know you’d asked until it hits your lips.
If you’re a white beer lover, Limburgse Witte is a must-try. It’s available alongside a list of other premium Cornelisson beers at Belgian Beverage Asia (belbev.asia). So order a case and get that lounge chair ready in the back garden. And until next time, keep your beer chilled, your taste impeccable, and here’s to finding top-of-the-line beers in this paradise on Earth called Thailand. Cheers!