Perhaps because I feel that I am betraying my German heritage, not to mention Erdinger Weißbier, a beer I determined to be the best of the German wheat beers after hundreds of liters of comparison drinking during my six months living in Germany (Berlin and München) in 1992, what follows is something that was not easy to admit to the world at large. It must be known that I’ve lately been enamored with Hoegaarden Wit, a lovely Belgian white beer that comes in a voluptuous bottle. And I’m (gasp) enjoying Hoegaarden even more than Erdinger. Plus it is great beer for warm weather, which has thankfully finally arrived in Northern California this May.
Hoegaarden’s distribution and marketing resources have clearly increased over the past few years, since I encounter Hoegaarden on tap much more often than I used to. But I probably first tasted Hoegaarden at Toronado, my favorite pub in San Francisco, and something of a beer nerd’s temple, while I was living within stumbling distance at 935 Page Street in 1996. Toronado also gets props because they often have Erdinger and Speakeasy beers on tap too.
Hoegaarden is not a pure wheat beer like Erdinger (and also violates the Rheinheitsgebot), but is brewed from a mixture of wheat, barley and oats, and is spiced with coriander and orange peel. The spicing is subtle and the wheat beer flavor remains dominant, making it an equally refreshing yet more interesting option than your basic German Wheat. There’s a nice review of Hoegaarden over at the Beer Man Blog.
You really do owe it to yourself to go buy a six-pack of cold Hoegaarden and get your Benelux beer groove on.