It sucks getting old. The aches, the reduced flexibility, the sudden need to rise at 4am to start the day, and of course, the whole “your best is behind you.” In the words of my forebears, poppycock! With age comes wisdom, reflection, and a certain kind of tolerance those young whippersnappers only aspire to. When you come first, others may try to best you but that very attempt is its own sort of flattery. And now, for something completely related to beer, Alewerks is the veritable graybeard in this scenario, and their mild-mannered Witbier has helped show all those which have come after it here in Virginia how to party.
White Ale, Alewerks Brewing Co. (Williamsburg, VA)
Witbier, 4.5% ABV
Presentation: Bottle pour into tulip.
Appearance: Pale goldenrod, medium cloudiness with some deeper hues throughout. Not a whiff of head or lattice.
Taste: A good dose of the adjunct coriander up front on the nose that transitions very well into a zesty, acidic profile. While also brewed with orange peel, the spice is the star and you only really get any hints of citrus flavor. You know it’s there due to that acidity though, and this is what separates the Alewerks interpretation. As you get further through the glass, the residue starts to take on a bready note with which the mileage may vary depending on your affinity for wheat beers.
Mouth Feel: Some robust carbonation is present with the bottle, which complements the spice very well. A bit of the acidity is among the residuals and coats the tongue, but it’s not cloying.
Overall: It may shock you, but with a 2010 debut this is the longest continuously produced Witbier in Virginia. The Alewerks White Ale is a Commonwealth original, and a lot of other Wits and Pale Wheat Ales in the region copy this model. Think of it as two different schools – the one you see here with Alewerks that trends a bit more orange and golden with only mild-medium sediment (which you also find with Caboose and Virginia Beer Co.), or the New England white, practically foggy cloudiness typified by Allagash and even Avery (but in VA done so well by Port City which has arguably joined the others as the American exemplars of that style). The former has seen a resurgence of late, and it’s fantastic that the two interpretations each have their adherents. So next time you’re enjoying one of the many awesome Virginia Wits, add an extra toast for the original Commonwealth White Ale!