Friday, September 9, 2011

Wheat Beers — Avery Brewing Co. vs. Lefebvre Brewery

Avery Brewing Co.
White Rascal
(Belgian Style White Ale)
ABV 5.6%

Hazy pale gold.
Banana, lemon, clove and a bit of Belgian yeast funk.
Smooth and rich with spicy clove and banana notes.
Hops vs. Malts
(Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Finish: Not much. Quickly disappears.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):
Good +

Lefebvre Brewery

Blanche de Bruxelles
(Beer brewed with coriander & orange peel)
ABV 4.5%

Hazy pale yellow.
Aroma: Very floral and perfumy. Jasmine and orange blossom.
Flavor: Light and crisp with citrus and floral notes.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Balanced
Finish: Floral with some acidity.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good +

Blow by Blow
Since the thermometer appears to be stuck at 95 degrees (or higher) we've been craving lighter, more refreshing beers. Wheat beers fit nicely into the "light" and "refreshing" category so we found two intriguing competitors and the fight was on. Our choices included one authentic witbier from Belgium and one wheat beer brewed in a Belgian-style from Colorado.

As usual, Ellen poured them blind for me and after tasting both I declared that it was obvious which was the authentic Belgian beer. Also as usual, I was wrong. What confused me was that the White Rascal had more prominent yeast characteristics with lots of banana and clove. The Blanche de Bruxelles, on the other hand was dominated by a sweet, floral perfuminess that I thought was more likely to be the imitator. After some research, I discovered that the banana and clove we tasted in the White Rascal are most often associated with the type of yeast used in Hefeweizens (German wheat beers). Authentic Belgian witbiers usually offer more aromas and flavors that come from the spices added to the beer (ie. coriander, orange peel, etc.) But that's enough of the geeky style discussion, which beer did we like better?

We liked both beers quite a bit, but when it came down to it we chose the White Rascal because the Blanche de Bruxelles was just a bit too intensely perfumy for us. It might not be the most authentic Belgian witbier knockoff but it's a damn fine beer to sip on a hot summer evening and we will gladly pack along a few cans of it on our next kayaking trip.

Winner by unanimous decision: Avery Brewing White Rascal

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