A decade or so ago, Hoegaarden wheat beer was my tipple of choice. Bursting with flavour and very different from the standard bitters and lagers I was previously drinking, it would sometimes confuse my fellow drinkers. “Why are you drinking that banana beer?”, I would get asked as I was lifting a hexagonal glass to my lips. The taste was certainly one that took a while to get used to, but opened me up to a world of wheat beers that previously I didn’t know about.
Beer brewing was first recorded in the village of Hoegaarden in 1445, with the local monks brewing a ‘white beer’ that became famous throughout Belgium. By the 1800s there were 13 breweries in the small village, such was the popularity of their wheaty output. However, by the 1950s all these breweries had closed their doors due to the style going out of favour, with the beer drinking world being engulfed by the lager tide. Hope was not lost however, with a local chap by the name of Pierre Celis determined to preserve the traditional brew, and set up his own brewery in his old hay loft. By the 1980s demand was so much that he had to buy a local lemonade bottling plant to increase his output.
As with a lamentably large number of traditional European breweries, Hoegaarden was bought up by big boys InBev later in the eighties. It was the influence of these beer behemoths that enabled the wheat beer to break into markets worldwide and today you’re pretty likely to see it available on tap in your local. An alcohol-free version of Hoegaarden is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, so lets crack it open and hope we’re not disappointed.
Pouring from the can we get a bright golden yellow liquid with some cloudiness but maybe not as much as a standard Hoegaarden. A creamy head grows up a couple of fingers in height before then receding somewhat, but still hangs around for the session. On the nose we get grains, lemony citrus and floral notes, and a touch of banana, though this is veering on bubblegum artificiality. Pretty similar to the whiff from a pint of Hoegaarden back in the day in my memory, maybe a tad sweeter?
On tasting we get a wheaty base flavour with citrus coming up, though more orange than lemon this time. The spicy coriander is present, along with some floral notes, but there is a sweetness there which I don’t remember from before. It’s almost like the bar tender thought you asked for a Hoegaarden shandy and started pouring in the lemonade before you quickly asked him to stop. The body is quite light, as is the carbonation, and we get a sweet, slightly perfumed finish to the drink.
It has the Hoegaarden flavours I remember, but slightly different, almost as if watered down with lemonade as I alluded to before. This is certainly not a bad thing in my opinion, and though it may be a bit carby, Hoegaarden Wit Blanche 0.0 will be on my shopping list in the future.
Nutritional Information (per 100ml)
0.05% alcohol by volume
27 calories energy
(taken from the side of the can)
Water, Barley Malt, Wheat, Sugar, Flavours, Acidifier: Citric Acid, Coriander Seeds, Orange Peel, Hop, Apple Extract
Hoegaarden Non-Alcoholic Wit Blanche Review
Tasting like standard Hoegaarden with a splash of lemonade, should definitely appeal to fans of the wheat beer who are looking to lessen their alcohol intake.