Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Voted For It - Vintage Wit

OK, well, the consensus seemed to actually be for a mild. But, nonetheless, Brewmaster Scott heard your pleas for summer and came up with a Wit.

A really, really good wit.

I will be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of witbiers. [ed note: see the post script below for a fun turn of events] There's, maybe, a handful that I don't find too bad, but as a general rule, I'm not really that big on them. The spicing - cloves, orange, orange peel, coriander, cumin - are often overbearing. If it's not sufficiently attenuated, the body is syrupy. The yeast (and modern American tastes) can make it overly lemony.

To my mind, Great Lakes Holy Moses is one of them that I'm just not a fan of. Yes, some people like it, but I'm not among them. Blue Moon. Bells Winter Wheat. Not a fan. I prefer Wits like Jolly Pumpkin's Calabaza Blanca, Wittekerke, (both wonderfully, but not overbearingly, lemony) and Allagash White (I love the spicing there).

But Brewmaster Scott has done a wonderful job on the new witbier. Scott uses fresh Indian coriander (I was assured freshness makes all the difference in the world - it is less musty and more peppery-grass-like), and subtle orange, and a secret ingredient that adds a little oomph to the body and slight, hop-like oiliness (ok, I'll spoil the secret: chamomile), the beer is flavorful and refreshing.


ps. while doing some research I discovered that I actually posted a review of Holy Moses on one of the popular beer review sites! On September 29, 2006, almost a full year before I ever even thought of starting MBR. Let's see what the nascent beer geek has to say, shall we? Drumroll please:
Originally from Cleveland, this is one of the few Great Lakes beers I haven't had yet. Given the general high quality, and my general fondness for witbiers, I was excited to give this a try.

As it pours it is blanch white, and becomes a beautiful golden ale with large dense white head. Even as it pours you can smell the citrus and coriander and malt, and if you let it set for a minute, the maltiness really comes to the front and the orange is a complimentary olfactory highlight. The taste is bright and oddly reminiscent of a brisk fall afternoon of football. There is some carbonation, but it dissipates quickly and the taste left is somewhat bread-like, syrup-y and sweet, but strangely unfulfilling because the coriander leaves a bit too much spice behind.

Overall a supremely drinkable beer. It compares favorably with the Leinie's Sunset Wheat but with a bit more pepper and spice.
Complimentary olfactory highlight? Oh, to take that one back. But there it is.

MBR Reviews of Wittekerke and more on Holy Moses, Ommegang Witte, and Victory Whirlwind makes me wonder when I started to dislike wits so much. I clearly liked them for at least the year between September 29, 2006 and August 29, 2007. Weird.


  1. I'll need to stop by for a taste. the fact that you like the wittekerke (one of my favorite 'let's have a quick beer' beers of summer) leads me to think I'll enjoy it.

    As for your young-new-beergeek review (2006?) of the Holy Moses..."compares favorably with the Leinie's Sunset Wheat" Dude! Really? I have a hard time favorably comparing LSW to anything so it's tough to figure out what your 'olfactory' systems were doing back then!

    Thanks for the chuckle - on another note - I'm headed to Mpls this weekend so I hope to stop at the Brewfarm and bring back a load of Surly.


  2. Yeah; ummm...though it seems that while in 2006 that might have been a "good" thing, my tastes these days seem to show that I would now regard that as not particularly good.

    It is interesting to see how one's tastes develop over time, and this is something that I try to stress on this site and to others as I talk about beer - my opinions (or anyone's for that matter) are not static - they change, I am influenced by others. I try to be open and recognize and discuss why my opinions are changing. Sometimes it is because I am persuaded by others, sometimes it is because my own tastes are evolving, sometimes it is simply experience that tells me that what I thought before was wrong or something that I now believe to be wrong.

    It is a fun process and one of the things that I like about beer. To think (or demand) that our tastes and opinions regarding what we drink and the industry stay the same for 4 years, let alone decades, or a lifetime, seems ignorant and hard-headed to me. So, I hope people will forgive me my humanity and allow my tastes and opinions to shift and change without stooping to call it hypocrisy or stupidity.

    Of course, that's not to say that sometimes I'm not being hypocritical or stupid ;)

  3. I haven't had anything at Vintage yet, but this sure does make me want to get out there to try something. Thanks for the post and for the walk down beer review memory lane.


  4. Thanks for the review of Vintage's Witbier MBR. One addition: the "gimme some Brit" folks didn't get overlooked. I've got some distinctive English ale yeast working right now, and if all goes to plan we'll have a string of 3 or 4 offerings this summer in the tradition of the pub ales of the British Isles. The first will be an Irish Red (a little deviation, considering the English yeast), richly malty yet mild and drinkable at 4.5 % abv. I plan to nitrogenate this one for a smooth, creamy texture. Should be on tap by 6-24-10. Next up will be a best bitter, then perhaps an ESB, then who knows?
    As a side-note, I'm working on reviving the JTW beer engines to pour some of these as real ales in the true sense.
    Cheers- Scott


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