There is a certain train of thought when it comes to winter beer. You need to brew something big, bold, and dark. Hunting around at the beginning of the winter and Christmas season has led me to finding quite a few different stouts, old ales, porters, and scotch ales. They are big, malty, and really bold. I love to drink these styles of beer. Winter styles are my favorite styles with the exception of IPAs. I became quite intrigued when I saw this bottle of Winter Wit while I was at my parents during Thanksgiving. There’s a store out by my parents I know has good beers where I found this bottle. Anchorage isn’t a brewery I’ve seen on the shelves around DC, but I’ve managed to find a bottle of theirs at one of my favorite local bars. I wasn’t a huge fan of the last beer I had from them, but I was really interested to see what it was like when they created something that was both light and made for the winter months.
While being a lighter beer for winter, the whole composition of the beer was extremely interesting to me. First, it’s a wit that has been brewed with lemon peel, black peppercorn, and coriander. Second, they decided to use Sorachi Ace hops to provide an even more lemony citrus feel. Next it was triple fermented. It was fermented in the tank with a Belgian yeast, second it fermented in french oak chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces, and finally in the bottle with a third yeast for carbonation. It’s not the first beer I’ve heard of being triple fermented, but I haven’t exactly heard of it being fermented in such unique ways. The brettanomyces almost turned me off to this beer, but I decided to suck it up. I thought it would provide an interesting enough blog, so I couldn’t pass it up.
Like I said earlier, I’ve had one other Anchorage brewing beer before. It was their beer The Tide and its Takers, and it had a ton of brett in it. I’ve had more than my fair share of brettanomyces. It is just about never my favorite ingredient in beer, but I am always willing to give it a try. I always think, maybe this will be the beer to convince me it’s an okay ingredient. For some reason, Anchorage loves to use brett. Looking at their website, they throw it in every single beer they have. Anchorage specifies they specialize in barrel fermentation with brettanomyces and souring cultures. They enjoy blurring the lines between new and old styles of beer and brewing procedures. I suppose sour beers and brett is considered the new thing in brewing, I’m just not really sure if I’m on board with either just yet.
This one pours a pale yellow golden color with a nice fluffy white head that develops on the pour. While the head is somewhat substantial for the first pour, it dissipates rather quickly as well. Interestingly, the subsequent pours didn’t seem to really have the same quantity of head the first one did. Regardless, there is some extremely light lacing on the sides of the glass, and you get no sticky residue at all. The beer has some light haziness from start to finish, and you can certainly see quite a bit of carbonation in the glass as well.
The smells are all rather light and certainly less than wintery. The brett aroma is quite large and basically dominates the majority of the nose. The other really big aroma is some very strong lemon. There is some light clove smell from the belgian yeast style, and you get some very light sweet malts as well. There seems to be a light spiciness to the aroma; however, I’m quite hopeful to find more of it in the flavor. There don’t seem to be a lot of hops, but I think that may be the lemony aroma of the sorachi ace hops.
The light sweet malts kick off the brew and mix with some very bold lemon flavor. The lemony flavor mixes nicely with some bold coriander as well. The entire first half of the brew seems to be dominated by the malts and sweet lemony flavor. The yeast comes in; however, it isn’t as bold as a lot of other Belgian brews. I’m sure the triple fermentation managed to take some of the bold nature of the Belgian yeast out of it. There is some very nice peppercorn that comes in for the more winter feel. The brett begins to pick up; however, it isn’t as bold as most brett flavor I’m used to in these style beers. This is certainly a good thing since brett is not my favorite component. There is certainly some oak flavor near the finish where I also believe I can taste the influence of the chardonnay as well. The big lemon comes back towards the end for a nice dry finish as well.
The mouthfeel is rather light and easy drinking. That’s even with the influence of the oak barrels and peppercorn. There is some slight syrup that kicks up near the end; however, it still manages to finish with a light dry feel. The oak and peppercorn seem to give it the most wintery feel, otherwise I think I would be calling it more of a summer beer. My favorite part is the light handling of the brett. I am very finicky when it comes to brett, so the light hand is right up my alley.
I’m still a bigger fan of heavy beers in the winter, but it is nice to have options. I would certainly recommend picking up a bottle of this if you can find it. Keep it around till you’re tired of drinking stouts, and you’ll be more than happy you had it. It’s more than an okay alternative to heavy winter beers.
Teacher Grade: B+
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