What is a Wit Beer?

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Scan the long list of beers on any bar’s menu and you’ll most likely see a few Wit Beers. Wit is a style of wheat beer that comes from the Belgium and Netherlands area. However, to understand what makes a wit, you need to understand what makes a wheat beer.

About Wheat Beer

Wheat beer comes from a method of brewing that uses a large amount of wheat in addition to the malted barley. The beer should contain about 30-70% wheat malt with the remainder being the barley. Wheat beer is usually top-fermented, which means the yeast forms a foam at the top of the wort during fermentation. This is required by law in Germany, but others breweries typically follow suit as it yields a better tasting beer.

Another characteristic of a wheat beer, no matter what kind, is that wheat beer will produce a thick, long-lasting white head. The beer’s color is usually hazy colored, most typically light amber to white. While aesthetically wheat beers are similar, flavor-wise, there isn’t much effect that the wheat contributes to. However, it does deliver a distinct mouthfeel which typically comes in a silky feel with a light taste. This makes wheat beers great for summer.

There are several styles of wheat beer. The most prominent are weissbier, a Bavarian styled beer, Hefeweizen which includes unfiltered yeast, and Sour varieties which are more rare but still delicious. These are all great beers to have in warm weather, especially in the summer.

About Wit Beer

Even better for summer is a Wit Beer. That’s because these beers are created with additional spice that tend to focus on helping drinkers enjoy warm days: citrus, coriander, and piquant spice help makes these refresh the mouth. Wit beer, Belgian for White Beer, is named after its cloudy white appearance due to the brew being unfiltered with high levels of wheat. However, it separates itself from wheat beers by how it originated.

The Origins of Wit Beer

Wit beer was originally made without hops, but rather flavored and preserved using a blend of spices and plants. Originally, a mix of plants and herbs was used as well called gruit. Gruit is still used today however it is usually reserved to a mix of coriander, orange, bitter orange, and hops. To be considered a wit beer, you must brew with some combination of gruit.

So next time you’re in a liquor store or favorite bar, look for a few Wit beers and try them out. Of course, if it’s not summer, you may want to avoid these and go for something a little heavier, but when the sun comes out and the weather warms, wit beer is your best friend.

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Carla Lauter was the founder of The Beer Babe and has been a beer blogger and expert for several decades. She's been interviewed in beer publications and podcasts about her favorite brews and the craft brewing scene. While she's ceased her involvement with The Beer Babe, her legacy remains in the various reviews and articles she has written.