Posted by: Michael | 14 January 2009

Brew Review #5 – Hoegaarden Witbier

Today’s review is of a Belgian classic, Hoegaarden Witbier. I’ll give you the links up front – Hoegaarden now has an official site in English.

Let’s begin with a shot of the beer and its appropriate glass, the gigantic Hoegaarden piece:


I really like this bottle for its rather pretty simplicity.


The ring around the neck reads “Anno 1445” and then “Unfiltered, Naturally Cloudy” in what I’m guessing is Belgian, English, and French. The main label features “Hoegaarden,” with “witbier-biére blanche” underneath. The bottom of the label reads “Wheat beer brewed with spices / Origineel Belgisch Witbier.” The top half of the label is circumscribed with “The Original Belgian White Beer-Bière Blanche Belge Originale.” I especially like the little logo on the label, of (what appears to be) a farmer’s hand holding a spade and a bishop’s hand, forearm clad in maniple, holding a crosier. This is also embossed on the neck itself.

The back label tells us “A delicious and surprising refreshing taste, naturally cloudy and brewed using a unique recipe of wheat, malted barley and a subtle hint of coriander and orange peel.” It’s brewed and bottled for N.V. Br. Hoegaarden S.A., Altenaken 7, B-3320 Hoegaarden Belgium. I also love this label for its instructions – I like a beer that tells you how to pour it properly.

Here’s the pour. I apologize for the quality and size – my camera ran out of battery right before this shot, so I switched to the Blackberry:


It’s got a straw-coloured and cloudy appearance (we were told it would), with a decent head on it. It smells nice and hoppy on the nose, but that’s about it. I dove right into the first sip.

The Hoegaarden has a nice mouthfeel – bubbly, but not overly so, and not too heavy. I liken it to a heavy champagne feel. It was sweet on the swallow, and the aftertaste was the same until about a minute later when it turned bitter. I caught a distinct flavour of fruit, although it wasn’t orange I have to admit. After the sip, the head dissipated to about 1/8 inch.

Here’s the kicker: the flavour didn’t change after that first sip. I didn’t find any improvement or backsliding, and even the head stayed about the same. I took about 20 minutes to drink this beer, and throughout the experience I didn’t find any development. I think this would be fine if Hoegaarden was outstanding, but I don’t think it is. I was slightly disappointed – I had hoped it would develop more through the session. This may be an issue of white beers and my own taste, but I finished the beer without being too impressed. I expected more out of it, to be honest. I can only rate this a C+, maybe a B-, for its lack of outright flaws. It’s fine if you’re going to have a few with friends who don’t like anything heavier or more flavourful, but it’s nothing to get too excited over.

The receipt I was using to keep track of prices has faded away, but I can tell you I found this beer at Big Red Liquors in Bloomington at less than $3.00 for an 11.2 fl. oz. bottle. Try it out, see how you like it – you may taste something totally different from me!

Don’t forget – alcohol is meant to be enjoyed, but it can hurt you and those around you. Drink responsibly – buzzed driving is drunk driving, too. Enjoy your fine brews in moderation, and don’t be afraid to know when it’s time to stop. As they say over at Beer Advocate – Respect Beer!



  1. 20 minutes huh….well we have to take into account you are an American :-)

    I think it’s a fair review Michael – it’s not to everyone’s taste. The thing I always find (when not using the official glass, and do people have different glasses for different beers?) is that this is a beer that is really hard to pour without an enormous head. A bit is OK, but not half the glass!

  2. […] we begin with a shot of the bottle and the glass I used to drink it. I thought the Hoegaarden Witbier glass was huge; check out this Spaten monster of a stein. It’s got large dimples all over […]

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