Posted by: Scott | March 26, 2010

Hoegaarden Review

When discussing Belgian-style witbiers with non-beer-nerds, I often bring up Blue Moon as a point of reference. Most recognize it instantly and exhibit a clear negative or positive response. This helps me anticipate how they might feel about something else in the style, such as Belgian’s classic witbier, Hoegaarden, which a bartender within earshot once described as, “What Blue Moon aspires to be.” Just to be clear, neither falls into craft beer territory. Blue Moon is a Coors product, while Anheuser-Busch InBev owns Hoegaarden.

Stats:
Brewery: Hoegaarden Brewery
Style: Witbier
ABV: 4.9%
IBU: 20 or so (not a huge issue here)
Glassware: Pint Glass, Mug
Serving Temp: 40°F
Price Range: $1-$2 per 12 oz. bottle

REVIEW:

Hoegaarden looks a bit flat and dull — as pale and hazy as liquid straw. The foam deflates after a minute or two, but a fizzy film persists at the top. It smells better than it looks. Expect aromas of cloves, coriander, sweet oranges, and spicy Belgian yeast. You’ll want to drink the beer behind that smell.

During the first sip, you’ll find each flavor described above, plus hints of pepper and tart, zesty lemons, but each is slightly blander than its odor implies. Every scent is there in the taste, but they all seem subdued, as if the brewers finished making the first batch (many, many years ago) and said, “this beer’s too damn tasty, throw some water in!” But the resulting light body, medium carbonation, and dry finish make this a refreshing and drinkable brew – not a strain on the palate in the slightest.

I’ll close by impugning the first paragraph’s Blue Moon comparison, as I think these two are almost equal – almost. To be honest, if I’m drinkin’ Belgian white, I prefer a St. Bernardus Witbier or Hitachino Nest White Ale. But those beers cost more. Despite my whining, Hoegaarden is one of the best witbiers you can get for the money. It’s refreshing; it has all the classic flavors, albeit quieter versions of them; and I think it’s a better introduction to the style than Blue Moon. But “good introduction” is the best endorsement I can give it.

Food Pairing:

Hoegaarden is a light-bodied wheat beer, so you’ll want cuisine that doesn’t overpower it. I think it would pair well with a pre-meal salad, so long as the dressing isn’t ranch. After that, I’d go with seafood; for instance, some baked tilapia or any variety of shellfish. Poultry might overpower it, but you could also give that a shot.

Monday: Some basics about the Witbier.

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Responses

  1. I tried this not long ago. Actually it was while I was watching the US/Canada hockey game. I thought it was gross to be honest haha. St. Bernardus is muuuch better. 🙂

    • Haha, to each his own. I definitely wouldn’t call it gross … just lackluster. Still, I never go out of my way to buy it, especially with better beers (e.g., St. Bernardus) sitting on the same shelf.

  2. Speaking of st bernardus…I just had abt. 12 for the first time…excellent! I will have to try their wit…or should I say white?

    • Wit is Dutch for white, so you already said it! The Abt 12 is probably my favorite St. Bernardus beer … had it on draught for the first time a few weeks ago. Outstanding.


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