Belgian Witbeir is one of the few remaining examples of the wheat-based “white” ales that were once common all over Europe. Light, delicate, and typically flavored with coriander and bitter orange peel, these are great beers for summer. The unmalted wheat that makes up a large portion of the grain bill gives witbier a velvety fullness on the tongue that allows them to hold up in the winter as well. Quebec’s Microbrasserie Dieu du Ciel has created their own twist on the style with Rosée d’hibiscus, flavoring it with hibiscus flowers lending it a rosy pink color and a delicate acidity. The more Dieu du Ciel beers I drink, the more I am convinced that they can do no wrong. Here’s my notes:
Aroma: An inviting blend of bready wheat, fruit, and flowers. Lightly tart. Fresh strawberries. Reminiscent of Red Zinger tea.
Appearance: Brilliantly clear with a festive pink/orange color. The very small pink head dissipated quickly. Put this in a wine glass and people will believe you are drinking rosé. Nice to look at.
Flavor: Even nicer to drink. Wheaty, fruity, gentle acidity, and the same Red Zinger hibiscus flavor from the aroma. The bready wheat malt gives a soft bed on which all these other layers of rest. The delicate acidic tartness is backed up with light sweetness like fresh fruit. The bitterness is very low and I detect no hop flavor. The beer changes as it warms first presenting fresh raspberry flavors and then becoming distinctly cider-like with some tart apple notes. Light background of earthiness and coriander spice.
Mouthfeel: Light body but with the soft fullness of wheat malt. Low carbonation. Smooth and easy to drink.
Overall Impression: This beer demands that you pay attention. Multiple layers of flavors, each distinctly expressed, give it a complexity that draws you ever more deeply inside and makes this more than just a simple glass of beer. Delicate. Each well articulated flavor blends well with the others. Acidic but not sour. Witbier normally shouldn’t be aged. I admit that this bottle has been in my cellar for over a year. If it tastes this good after a year, I would love to taste it brewery fresh.