Sunday, February 10, 2008

Final analysis: White Riot Gluten-Free Belgian Wit

My buddy Pete (who's unfortunately restricted to a gluten-free diet) came over for the Super Bowl, and beforehand I busted out my case of White Riot Belgian Wit, which was brewed with sorghum extract. Lo and behold, after setting aside a 12-pack for him, I was left with only three bottles. I'm planning on dropping two off at Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, which means I only have one bottle left for myself! Well, that means it's time to do a final analysis on this brew. So here it goes:

Style: Belgian Witbier/Sorghum beer. Original gravity: 1052. Final gravity: 1017. ABV: 4.6%.

Appearance: Very effervescent, but with big bubbles like seltzer water. A thick white head, but one that rapidly disappears, again like seltzer. I sort of expected this, given what I've read about sorghum. Color is very similar to grapefruit juice... it's sort of gold, sort of peach, and cloudy. Close to a traditional Witbier, but just a tad milky.

Smell: Aroma is dominated by the coriander. A little sugar sweet, with no citrus notes.

Taste: Again, a spiciness up front that seems to come from the coriander. This gives way to a cane sugar sweetness with a touch of citrus that quickly turns to an almost apricot-like bite. A slightly sour finish with sufficient hop bitterness to keep the beer from being sweet. The apricot taste--and a bit of sourness--lingers on the tongue after you swallow.

Mouthfeel: It's a bit thin, as one would expect from the lack of head, but really not as thin as I would have guessed. Really not that bad, and I would argue appropriate for the style.

Drinkability: Definitely a sessionable beer. The touch of sourness works well with the sweeter qualities of the beer, leaving it refreshing and thirst-quenching. Would be a great summer beer.

Overall: I would have to say I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. While I think most beer aficionados would still note something a little "off," I think that the style works well with the limitations of the sorghum, as I expected. I would also, ideally, like to improve the head retention, but I feel like if I added any more maltodextrin the beer would be too sweet, so I think I'm stuck. Fortunately, I don't think it's that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.

Now, while I generally don't do side-by-side comparisons with my beers, I'd like to do so in this case because 1.) I'm dealing with a whole new ingredient (sorghum) and 2.) I'm not as familiar with Belgian Wits as I am certain other styles. So anyway, to help us out I popped open a bottle of Great Lakes Holy Moses white ale. The aroma on the Great Lakes was a bit more citrusy, which backs up my initial thought that I'd like to up the sweet orange peel. As for the taste, well, it's just more "beery." It actually has a little more hop character to it, so maybe that's what I'm picking up. It also has a little more mouthfeel to it as well.

Anyway, I guess my thoughts at this point are to up the hops a tad and up the sweet orange peel as well the next time I brew this. In the meantime, I think it's pretty good for a first try. Cheers!


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