Named after the Belgian village where it was first made, Hoegaarden wheat beer has a rich history dating back to the middle ages. It is the original Belgian wheat beer and part of a long brewing tradition in this agriculturally rich region. Blended with malted barley, wheat, coriander and curaçao orange peel Hoegaarden has a distinctive, smooth flavour and subtle citrusy character. When poured it has a soft, white creamy head and pale almost shimmering appearance. Today the Hoegaarden brewery is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Records suggest the recipe was first discovered in around 1445. This region of Belgium was part of the Netherlands at the time and the first brewers had access to exotic herbs and spices imported from the Dutch colonies. Records suggest the first wheat beers were intensely sour and this is partly what may have led the first brewers to their creative blending with coriander and curaçao orange peel, developing the world famous wheat beer recipe.
Over hundreds of years the brewing industry in Hoegaarden village grew and by the 18th century there were 36 breweries and 110 malting houses, brewing up to 25,000 hectolitres per year. It brought great wealth to the surrounding area. However the post-World war economy and the rise of clear lagers took their toll and brought about the closure of the last wheat beer brewery in 1957.
In 1965, Pierre Celis, the village milkman revived the famous beer much to the delight of locals. It soon became a huge success. He named his first brewery "De Kluis" in acknowledgment of the monks who helped the villagers to create the great brewing tradition of Hoegaarden.
Today 9 out of every 10 glasses of wheat beer sold in Belgium are Hoegaarden wheat beers and since the 1990s, AB InBev have worked to ensure that Hoegaarden is exported and available all across Europe, North America, Australia, Singapore and China to name just a few. Hoegaarden today receives awards and acclaim from all over the world.
Hoegaarden Wheat Beer 4.9% ABV
The original wheat beer is the oldest and most famous of Hoegaarden's range. When poured it forms a soft, white creamy head and leaves a generous lacing on the glass. Its naturally cloudy, pale hue shimmers when viewed through the glass.
With an aroma of orange peel, coriander and spice its characteristic taste is entirely unique. Smooth, light bodied and gently sweet and sour, with a subtle spiced citrus flavour. Best served in its traditional hexagonal glass.
Rosée 4.5% ABV
Hoegaarden Rosée beer is lightly refreshing and similar to the original wheat beer in body but infused with the fruity zest of raspberries. Naturally sweet, it has a rich fruity raspberry aroma, combined with subtle hints of spice and coriander such as you find in the original wheat beer.
Rosée is unfiltered, also like the original wheat beer, making it cloudy in appearance with a delicate pink to light orange hue. Its taste is refreshing, smooth, sweet and light.
Citron 3% ABV
Hoegaarden Citron is similar to the original wheat beer. It is cloudy in appearance and smooth in taste but delicately infused with fruity citrus zest.
With a refreshing taste and citrusy aroma, this wheat beer is slightly sweeter than the original and with a lower alcohol content it is an ideal lighter option.
Verboden Vrucht 8.5% ABV
De Verboden Vrucht is slightly different from the other members of the Hoegaarden family. It has a distinctive cloudy, ruddy brown hue - almost a perfect match with the bottle it comes in.
It pours with a strong head and has a complex aroma, both fruity and creamy, with caramel, vanilla and chocolate notes. With a smooth taste the lightly bitter blend of hops and warming herbs it is a rich, slightly stronger beer at 8.5% alcohol.
The label shows part of a painting by Pieter Paul Rubens depicting Adam and Eve. Adam seduces Eve with a glass of Forbidden Fruit. Initially, the authorities would not allow the beer to be sold on US territory as they felt the label to be indecent.
Spéciale 6.5% ABV
Hoegaarden Spéciale has a characteristic lightly bitter taste. It has a slightly higher fermenting temperature than the regular Hoegaarden wheat beer. In fact it is rather like the original Hoegaarden but with a riper, richer taste and a golden blonde glow.
Drunk from a stemmed ball glass, rather than the hexagonal glass, Spéciale is enjoyed with very large head of foam. It has a mild, burnt malt flavour and long lasting taste.
Grand Cru 8.5% ABV
Pouring cloudy orange, almost golden in colour, Hoegaarden Grand Cru has a fruity aroma and thick abundant foam head. Flavoured with curaçao orange and coriander like the original Hoegaarden wit bier it has a deliciously complex sweet and bitter taste, with subtle spice and citrus notes.
Served in a tulip glass, Grand Cru is closer to Hoegaarden De Verboden Vrucht than to Hoegaarden Spéciale in character. It is a rich, blonde beer that remains surprisingly light and delicate for 8.5% ABV.
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Hoegaarden Beer, en.wikipedia.org.
Hoegaarden Brewery, en.wikipedia.org
Different types of Hoegaarden, www.hoegaarden.org.uk
Hoegaarden White Beer Tasting Notes and Review, beer.about.com