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Hoe, Hoe, Hoe

Hoegaarden wheat beerIt’s been a busy time over the past few weeks, what with preparations for Christmas, shovelling snow off the driveway and also having to go to work, so I’m afraid I just haven’t had much time to devote to this website.  However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been “researching” material – that mainly involves drinking beer, of course, and I’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do, although some of the things I wanted to write about are probably out of date – for example, I did want to write about some of the wonderful Autumn seasonal beers that I’d been fortunate enough to try, but they have probably been superseded in the pubs and on the off-licence shelves by the Winter seasonals and Christmas Specials.

One beer that I tried a few weeks ago for the first time is actually quite appropriate for the Christmas season – apart from the suitability of its name to being coerced into a naff blog title!  Hoegaarden has been available in this country for quite a while, but I had never got round to trying it until recently.  The bottled version is 4.9% – we picked up a couple of 750ml bottles from Lidl at a very reasonable price.  It’s a very pale straw coloured, slightly hazy wheat beer.  It has a spicy smell, and a very spicy taste – it is flavoured with coriander seeds and Curaçao orange peel – it certainly has the flavours I would associate with Christmas.  It is light and refreshing, but to be honest I was getting a bit bored with the spiciness by the time I got to the end of the large bottle.  It’s the kind of beer that I would probably drink one of just occasionally, but it wouldn’t be one of my regular tipples.

I’m grateful to the book Beer (Eyewitness Companions) and this Wikipedia article for some background detail – the Belgian town of Hoegaarden is located in the wheat growing area of Brabant, and it was famous for this style of beer until the 1950s when the popularity of golden lagers caused production to stop.  A few years later, Pierre Celis, avery prescient local brewer who had previously worked in one of the town’s breweries, reckoned that there was still some demand for this style of beer, and revived it, building a new brewery (De Kluis).  He found that it appealed to a new younger breed of beer drinkers, and it has proved to be a huge success.  It is now part of the Inbev brewing giant, and for a few years brewing of the beer was moved from Hoegaarden to the Jupille brewery near Liège, but since 2008 it has been back at its original home.

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