Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Progression of the Palate

I'm drinking a Wittekerke while watching a replay of the 49ers and Raiders preseason game. Wittekerke has long been one of my favorite beers, but it's been a long while since I last had one. When you drink like me, it can be hard to get back to old favorites. My drinking habits tend to parallel my wanderlust. Just like how I'm never content staying in the same place for long, I'm never happy drinking the same beer twice. Because of this, the only beers I ever buy that I've already had are easy to find: Sweetwater IPA, Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, and Dale's Pale Ale are pretty much the only beers you'll find in my beer fridge on repeat trips.

Wittekerke is an example of what is called a witbier, or Belgian-style white beer. This is a type of wheat beer, which means a significant portion of the fermentables come from wheat instead of the barley in most beers. There are some technical differences between the wheat used in a witbier and that used in a German hefeweizen, but this crowd isn't a beer geek crowd, so I'll stay out of it. What is important for a regular beer drinker to know is that witbiers are almost always brewed with coriander and bitter orange peel. The final beer is light in body, slightly tangy from the wheat and yeast variety and has a wonderful citrus and floral aroma from the coriander and orange.

There was a time when I didn't like lighter beers like this. I've never liked the lighter lagers like Budweiser and I wasn't a hop head to start with. I came in to beer drinking through the Hershey highway of stouts and porters, big, bold, malty beers that may be bitter, but balance that bitterness with sweetness. It wasn't until I was regularly downing big stouts and porters that I came across my first witbier. I can't remember if the classic Hoegaarden was my first, but Wittekerke was one I had early on and was always my favorite of the style. Even when I couldn't appreciate a good pilsner or marzen, I loved witbiers.

Of course now I can even appreciate most of the pale lager varieties. I actually really dig good pilsners now (of which Miller is most definitely NOT an example) and I can even finish a Budweiser if I have to. I won't pay for one because it's still about as bad as beer gets, but I can drink it.

Still, there's something to be said for first loves.


courtney said...

My new favorite beer is New Belgium's Skinny Dip. 'Tis yummy.

Julie said...

I still don't like beer. I had one waiter at Porter Bar try really, really hard. He brought me samples of six of the girliest beers possible. I don't care if it tastes like fruit going down. It still has a bad aftertaste.

ps - hopefully, I've now commented on all the posts that I missed given your blog's discrimination against those who read your blog on a cell phone.