Brew Review

Brewed For Battle: Witbier

At what point does one elevate from merely drinking beer to being a full-on beer snob? Answer: when you feel compelled to tell other people what to drink. And the inevitable result of this peculiar ailment is the beer argument.

In the spirit of all great beer-related discussions, we present Brewed For Battle; a new series of Chow Bella blog posts that pits a selection of brews from a given style up against each other and lets the taste buds of one layman battle them out. Multiple beers go in. One beer comes out the victor.

This week's battle: Witbier

A 400-year-old beer style that died out in the 1950s, witbiers are Belgian-style ales brewed with high levels of wheat and named for their cloudy, unfiltered appearance. The style was revived by Pierre Celis at Hoegaarden in the mid-80s and has gained popularity over time, especially in America. Wits are generally peppery, crisp brews spiced with coriander, orange peel and other herbs. The best-known wit around is probably Blue Moon, a pseudo-craft beer brewed up by Coors Brewing Co. that's often served with a lemon or orange slice -- though if you truly want to enjoy the zesty subtleties of this beer, you'll ask for yours sans-citrus.

Zach's Pick: Dogfish Head Red & White

Dogfish's off-centered take on a Belgian wit, Red & White is a big, 10 percent ABV beer brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with the juice of Pinot Noir grapes. After fermentation, 11 percent of the beer is moved to Pinot Noir wine barrels for aging, while the other 89 percent is placed on oak barrel staves. The resulting beer is marries the citrusy zest of a Belgian-style white beer with the deep, robust flavors of a bold red wine. Red wine and white beer -- get it?

Jonathan's Pick: New Belgium Mothership Wit

Consider it an old standby, but I had to go with the Mothership Wit. To me, this beautiful, organic brew embodies precisely what a witbier is all about. Note the hints of coriander and citrus. It's cool, refreshing, has a pleasant mouth feel and also, admittedly, a certain level of accessibility that high alcohol by volume beers like the Red & White lack. Mothership Wit is less than 5 percent alcohol by volume. In other words, it's good but not challenging; delicious, but hardly revolutionary. It's the safe option.

The Layman's Choice: Mothership Wit This week's layman is Carol Blonder, Chow Bella writer and chef extraordinaire. Why did she choose to beam up to the mothership?

"I like Mothership because it's not boring. It has a pleasant mouthfeel and, to me, brings back memories of drinking in British pubs. The Red & White was pretty intense upon first sip, but the second sip is more mellow. It's a beer that begs to be paired with food -- like a big, fat burger."

Next week: Czar Wars -- a battle of Russian Imperial Stouts.