Keep your Wits about you 

AS THE HEAT of summertime rolls into Savannah a thirst quenching beers become important to have in the fridge. One of the best styles to have on hand is a Belgian Wit.

Traditionally brewed in the Flemish areas east of Brussels centered around the town of Hoegaarden, wits are primarily known for having high wheat barley content of at least 50 percent, and the use of spices as a preservative and flavoring agent.

The most common spices used are coriander, bitter orange peel and chamomile. Wits are a style is linked to gruits, beers made before the introduction of hops, and the style very nearly disappeared when hops become dominant as a brewing ingredient.

Thanks to a man named Pierre Celis, the style didn’t die out. Celis grew up in Hoegaarden and missed having easy access to the old style.

In a classic home brewer tale, he brewed up his own wit, and by 1966 was working on the production level. Celis eventually moved to the United States, bringing his recipe with him and spreading the word of wit beers.

Often called wheat beers in the U.S. the moniker wit beer actually comes from the pale white color produced by the combination of the heavy yeast and wheat content. All variations on a theme, wits come under a lot of names.

Wit bier is Belgian, bier de blanche is French, weißbier in German and in the U.S. you’ll see the term white beer in addition to wheat beer.

The great thing about wits is that they can be a great introduction beer for your non craft beer drinkers. Wits can be mild in flavor or have a fruity flavor that make them very approachable for those that have only had mixed drinks or pale lagers. Wits can have a lot of flavor, so the there is room to grow within the style.

If you want to give a Belgian wit a try or maybe use them to introduce a friend to the joys of craft beer, there are plenty of options available in Savannah.

Allagash White

Portland, Maine based Allagash Brewing’s White is the benchmark wit. It hits all the traditional flavors associated with wits’ like coriander and orange peel which meld well with the banana notes of the Belgian yeast. Allagash markets White as brewed with a hose “secret spice.” There are many thoughts on what that spice is but chamomile is the odds on favorite.

Westbrook White Thai

Brewed just up the road in Charleston, S.C., is Westbrook’s White Thai. Westbrook had taken a fun spin with the traditional wit. Forgoing the orange peel and coriander Westbrook replaced them with Asian cuisine inspired flavors of lemongrass and ginger. The slightly spicy result is a flavorful but refreshing brew.

Southern Tier 3 Citrus Peel Out Imperial Wit


The defining characteristic of 3 Citrus Peel Out are it’s mix of citrus peel and the ABV. Southern Tier trades the traditional bitter orange peel for tangerine and grapefruit peel and then fermenting with blood orange juice. 3 Citrus is a nice balance of the citrus peel bitterness and the sweetness imparted through the blood orange. “Imperial” beers typically carry a larger alcohol punch, 3 Citrus Peel out is no exception but because it’s a wit the ABV caps out at 8.5%. Still that’s a hefty for a wit and the sweetness masks that alcohol so be carful with this one.


Moon River Wild Wacky Wit

Moon River Brewing Company’s Wild Wacky Wit is an easy drinking 4.1% ABV. It carries with it all the traditional Belgian wit with chamomile as a defining flavor.

Southbound Scattered Sun


Scattered Sun Belgian Wit, at 5.1% has the highest ABV of all the non imperial beers discussed here but is still low enough to be refreshing on a hot Savannah summer day. Scattered Sun is a solid rendering of the Belgian wit but brings some lemon flavor that are not as apparent in the other beers on this list.

Service Brewing

Service Brewing will offer up a wit as its summer seasonal this year. Look for a full story on that beer in coming weeks.


About The Author

Raymond Gaddy


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Connect Today 11.24.2017

Latest in Brew/Drink/Run

  • Embrace the sourness
  • Embrace the sourness

    The range of sourness, the various critters used to create sours and a few different ways to introduce those critters allow for a huge spectrum of beers to fit any palate.
    • Nov 15, 2017
  • It’s all about the stout
  • It’s all about the stout

    Nov. 2 is the day the world celebrates the roasty deliciousness
    • Oct 31, 2017
  • Moon River Brewing brings home the Gold Medal!
  • Moon River Brewing brings home the Gold Medal!

    Most Georgia winners were from the Atlanta area, but the only Georgia GABF Gold medalist came from right here in Savannah! Moon River Brewing Company won a Gold in the Belgian-style Witbier category for their Wild Wacky Wit.
    • Oct 18, 2017
  • More »

The Most: Read | Shared | Comments

Right Now On: Twitter | Facebook

Copyright © 2017, Connect Savannah. All Rights Reserved.
Website powered by Foundation