With the 4th of July weekend now behind us, we continued to comb though the massive list of beer reviews we still needed to get out. Surprising enough this one had slipped through our fingers. And to make matters worse, this was going to be our first review for a beer from a long established Virginia Brewery. Yes, we did talk about one of their other beers in our Mariner’s Museum Beer Festival wrap, but not a stand-alone review. Well to get the ball rolling this week, we are going to rectify this by getting into one of the most interesting beers I’ve had this summer. With Starr Hill’s long established and quality of beer making, it was no surprise that this White IPA/Wit was choice, and not just because of the Procol Harum-esque title.
Whiter Shade of Pale, Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, VA)
Belgian Wit/IPA, ABV: 7.5%, IBU: 45
Presentation: Bottle pour into both tasting glass and solo cup (hey, it was the 4th and I wasn’t paper bagging it)
Appearance: very pale yellow, but still a lot closer to golden rod that other witbiers. Head was minimal and white. Cloudy appearance characteristic of classic Wits.
Taste: Right off the bat, you get the Belgian witbier citrus and spices. The ‘IPA’ side of this beverage did not impart a massive amount of hop back end, but left it more crisp and clean, more towards an American Pale Ale. It finished a lot cleaner and smoother than I imagined.
ABV/IBU: Both about par for the course with this style of beer as the increased hop mouth-feel was muted by the overall witbier flavor. It’s dangerously smooth and refreshing so don’t let the 7.5% creep up on you.
Overall: With more and more Virginia breweries producing Wits these days, it seems as they all went to the same international conference and found the perfect secret to quality brews. Don’t get this beer wrapped up in the ‘Shock Top’ over-hype, this one is a true representation of quality European suds. I have found this beer once on tap in Richmond, but the 22oz variety is easy to find most places around The Commonwealth. And it’s a share beer so grab a couple for a group of friends. It gets superb marks for sticking to the classic Wit recipe and branching off. Only, ONLY, small knock would be that bringing in the fact that it is an ‘IPA’ you would want some more hop back end, but I wouldn’t touch this recipe. I would make the argument to the other writers on this site that it stands toe-to-toe with the only other perfect score given, which was a Wit as well. I can’t go that high, but it is the highest score I’ve given and anything in the 9+ arena optimizes the style of beer and is a must have. Well done!