Beer Review: Hoegaarden – The Original Belgian White Beer

Since I started this blog, I’ve been wanting to review this. I first tried it a month or two before I started reviewing beers here, and have been longing for the excuse of a review to try it again. This is, Hoegaarden white beer. Produced by the massive InBev, and available from every off-licence and supermarket in the UK for between £1.09 and £1.29.
Hoegaarden bottle

One of the first things you notice about this bottle are that everything on it is in three languages. Just like Leffe, another Belgian beer, this bottle repeats itself more times than an old episodes of Friends.

Forunately, it doesn’t cram in too much detail, so the third of the bottle taken up with English information is minimal. The label up by the neck gives a date of 1445. Although it doesn’t mention what that date refers to. A clue is also up there on the label hinting at what makes Hoegaarden different. That this is “Unfiltered, naturally cloudy”. And yes, if you look carefully enough at the bottle, you’ll see bits floating around in there. What the technical differences are, I don’t know. But I do know that orange juice with bits in is better than smooth orange juice. Maybe the same holds true of beer?
Hoegaarden Wit Bier neck label

Down on the main front label, all the important details are there. That this is a 330 millilitre bottle. What the heck is that in pints? And who the heck asks for 330 millilitre of drink? It is Belgian, so perhaps that explains it. Also on there is that this has a decent 4.9% alcohol volume. With a silver background, logo consisting of two arms holding staffs and very Germanic looking writing, Hoegaarden is terrific. If you want a north-west continental European beer, this looks the part.
Hoegaarden Wit Bier front label

On the back label, it takes a few moments to find the right language. With that done, the information is mostly concise and helpful. That this will be “delicious” and “refreshing”. And that it is “naturally cloudy” and brewed to a “unique recipe”. All very good. And the sort of thing you want your premium continental beer to be. They also, kindly for a continental beer, include the UK units of alcohol. I don’t know if they’re compelled to do that, so it’s good to see it on there. It’s 1.7 units by the way.
Hoegaarden Wit Bier back label

But then, on the right-hand side of the label, it all becomes a bit unusual. You see, in four little panels, it explains how Hoegaarden should be poured. That it takes four panels gives you an idea of how involved it is. First, one must rinse the glass into which Hoegaarden will be poured. Then, the first half of the bottle may be poured. Then the remainder of the bottle’s contents, swirled. Before the final half of the bottle is poured into the glass. I think it has something to do with the natural cloudiness and not wanting to leave the bits stuck at the bottom of the bottle.
Hoegaarden Wit Bier pouring instructions

For the purposes of this review, I carefully went through all those steps. The mistake I made however, was in using a half-pint glass. Those infuriating European measures left a big portion of the bottle’s contents, still in the bottle. What did make it into the glass however, did have a good head to it. And yes, it is cloudy. Cloudier and more opaque than any other beer I’ve yet tried, but not as opaque as some darker ales and stouts.
Hoegaarden Wit Bier in a glass

On the nose, how can I sum it up? Put it this way, I’d buy an air-freshener that smelled the same. It smells delicious. Rich and malty. With some other qualities I can’t quite place.

And that classiness mostly carries over to the taste. It is malty, but not to the same extent as Leffe Blond(e) Beer. Although, maybe because of it’s Belgian origins, it has some of the same qualities. Instead, it’s a little malty, but not at all heavy. It’s light and yes, refreshing too.

Also in the flavour are hints of the barley and wheat. And if you’re wandering, no, you can’t tell that there are bits in there while you’re drinking it. What makes a change is that there’s barely a hint of bitteness in the taste. I’d say it’s sweeter and creamier than almost every other beer I’ve yet tried.

Downsides? It can be somewhat gassy. Although some of that comes down to how it’s poured. And the quirky character might not be to everyone’s tastes. The bottle is also too small. If think you’ll might like this, buy the bigger bottle instead.

For me, Hoegaarden is another Belgian winner. It might be brewed by the faceless InBev, but Hoegaarden has a unique personality. It looks different to most others. It smells right. And it’s quite simply creamier, sweeter and more refreshing than almost everything else on the market.

Rating: 4.6

The biggest question for me now is, how does Hoegaarden compare to the other white beers out there? At least two other white beers are stocked by my local Tesco, so I’ll be sure to try those in coming weeks and let you know.

Have you tried Hoegaarden? What did you think?
Maybe you’ve got recommendations of your own?
Or your own ideas about what I could turn my critical eye towards. Go on. Suggest something in the Comments section below.

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10 Responses to “Beer Review: Hoegaarden – The Original Belgian White Beer”

  1. beerdoctor Says:

    Other Witts to suggest? Where to begin? How about Sam Adams White Ale. Or Celis Witt. Or Witt from brewery Ommegang. Then there is White Christmas Ale from the Moylan Brewery. You get the idea… peace and prosit!

  2. Alcohol Posts » Beer Review: Hoegaarden – The Original Belgian White Beer Says:

    [...] hywelsbiglog wrote a fantastic post today on “Beer Review: Hoegaarden â The Original Belgian White Beer”Here’s ONLY a quick extractI first tried it a month or two before I started reviewing beers here, and have been longing for the excuse of a review to try it again. This is, Hoegaarden white beer. Produced by the massive InBev, and available from every off-licence … [...]

  3. Nick Says:

    The first time I had Hoegaarden was in a pub, not knowing what it is. Since then I have been a big fan. I truly believe that no one else makes white beer like Hoegaarden. All other white beers that I have tasted reek of a certain smell – citrus, especially. Hoegaarden balances all smells and tastes. Hefeweizen is similar to Hoegaarden, but not as good (according to my taste).

  4. Ash Says:

    I’m drinking a glass right now and it is de-lish.

  5. Blanco Says:

    I’m in the U.S. so I’m not sure if you can get this but if you like belgian whites you really need to try Allagash White and Blanche de Chambly by Unibroeu (Canadia). I know it might seem odd that two of the best Belgian whites are from North America, but I’m a huge Hoegaarden fan and yet these two are superior in my opinion.

  6. Kirk Says:

    The pouring of Hoegaarden is critical to it’s flavor/taste. Please do NOT let the beer “glug” when pouring. Pour gently enough to not form a head. Swirl the final 2/5th of the bottle and pour to a frothy head. Let settle for 1 minute then enjoy.

  7. Aditya Mehta Says:

    Hoegaarden is the only white beer available in India as of now. A friend recommended it and I loved it both the times I had it. I’m going hunting for another pint or two of this soon!

  8. Rob Says:

    If you like this you should track down some ‘Franziskaner ‘ white beer . I recently obtained a bottle in a Morrissons’ . It’s a german beer so perhaps not entirely comparable , but I would consider it superior to ‘Hoegaarden’ while retaining a similar freshness and taste.

  9. Sass Monsters Says:

    want another opinion?!? check out the sass monsters, beer reviews and much more.

    http://sassmonsters.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/bethanys-beer-bonanza/

  10. Martin (@GaterieDucale) Says:

    Industrial … try Korenwolf or almost any German weiss. This has been on a downhill for many many many moons. I bet Snickers used to be good one time.

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