3.9AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
One of my favorite styles of beer has been the Belgian White because most beers of the style tend to be extremely tasty and easy to drink. Of course, my frame of reference was American takes on the style, what would an authentic Belgian White be like? Hoegaarden was the beer I turned to in order to solve that mystery and I’m glad I did, because its authenticity was apparent from the moment I popped the cap to the last swig.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Hoegaarden is one of a handful of beers for which there is a type of glass specifically made for it. Unfortunately, I don’t own that glass so I had to improvise. Poured from a bottle, the beer forms a fairly large layer of bright white foamy head which never dissipates and leaves generous lacing on the glass. Not surprisingly, the body is very cloudy with a white color to the exterior and a pale yellow hue at the center. Clove is immediately evident in the nose, as are other spices and yet the beer has a sweet aroma.
I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Hoegaarden. From its outer appearance, it seemed to be very similar to an authentic hefeweizen rather than the American-style “Belgian Whites” I’ve been used to. And after my first sip I knew this beer resembled the former rather than the latter.
My first impression of the taste is that of a watery body with a light amount of spices to the palate. Clove, orange peel and coriander immediately stand out giving the beer a slightly citrusy taste, and yet it is not tart or sour at all. The overall flavor is quite sweet, but the intensity seems to be dialed-down a bit. I was expecting an explosion of taste, but the blow seemed to be cushioned by a watery composition.
Still, there was definite taste to be had, rather than just “beer,” and the spices give the beer a bit of a bite.
Much like stouts, I’ve yet to encounter a wheat beer that is anything less than smooth. Hoegaaden is absolutely no challenge for a serious beer drinker, and Joe and Jane Six Pack will find it reminiscent of a light lager due to its watery complexion and calm palate.
Considering how easy this beer is to drink, as well as it’s genuine (but not over-powering) taste, combined with a body that is only 4.9% ABV, Hoegaarden would make an excellent session beer. I drank two bottles back-to-back without feeling overwhelmed in the least, and I doubt many other drinkers would be either.
The only thing that bummed me out about Hoegaarden was that its taste wasn’t as strong as I would prefer. My experiences with American takes on the style are absolutely delicious, but this was more of a true crafty brew, rather than anything gimmicky. At $10 a six-pack it’s a bit pricey, but definitely worth trying.
NOTE: See my 2017 re-review to BJCP specs here: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2017/10/hoegaarden-2017-re-review-to-bjcp-specs.html