Winter. Warmer. Kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it? As creates of contradiction, though, we like hot food in the winter and cold food in the summer. We like cold weather so we can wear more layers to feel warm, and hot weather so we can wear fewer layers to feel cool. Maybe we’re idiots, or maybe there’s just a little method behind this madness. The issue I take with most winter styles, though, is that they’re simply too heavy and, typically, too high of an ABV to do anything more than sit and sip slowly (plus, they’re harder to pair with food). As I’ve opined on other ocassions, that could be precisely what you want, but if I’m playing a legendary assassin on “Juan” or frothing at the bit as UVa starts snatching 1st place votes, a beer that puts me to sleep isn’t in the cards, you know? That’s why I like Winter Whites…well, that’s why I like Wits and Weizens in any event. Let’s talk about one.
Winter White, Legend Brewing Company (Richmond, VA) – @LegendBrewingCo
Spiced Witbier (White Ale), ABV 5.0%
Presentation: Bottle pour into pint glass.
Appearance: A honey-like orange over the typical witbier cloudiness. A mild amount of head dissipated rapidly, with some medium lattice pointing to a fuller body.
Taste: When starting with the nose I picked out what is almost a vanilla essence. An interesting note is that the presence of vanilla is not uncommon in winter drinks – having been a barista at Starbucks many eons ago, I can actually pass on that we did in fact use vanilla syrup in our hot chocolates! As you move through the body, you really pick up an extra dose of coriander and some elements which remind me of both cream soda and the Hardywood Cream Ale. Why cream soda? Well, it’s made with vanilla… Legend notes the presence of pear and bubblegum in their description but I found this more earthy.
ABV/IBU: For most wheat or white beers this is rarely an issue unless you get into hybrids or imperials. The yeasts and spices in this case are quite distinct from what’s an average ABV.
Overall: This beer has grown on me over time as the complex aftertaste takes a little bit of reflection. I wouldn’t quite call this a winter beer as the flavors remind me more of Thanksgiving; Bocks remind me most of winter, in general. It’s suitable if your goal is to only have one beer over the course of the night, as it sits with you and mellows out as it warms up. I’d be curiouus as to Legend’s take on a true Witbier (hint hint!)