Living in Florida and the sultry weather of the Keys, one of my favorite beers to counteract the heat is Wittekerke in the cool blue can. I call this beauty “sunshine in a can” and in my opinion it’s the perfect beer for any situation. Wittekerke is from Belgium and has an ABV of 5 percent. It is classified as a witbier by style, meaning it’s made up of 25 percent wheat malt and naturally cloudy since it is unfiltered. Wits, unlike German wheat beers, are flavored by spices like coriander, grains of paradise and citrus.
Allow me to tell you why I feel Wittekerke is the perfect beer for any situation, its drinkability! From the first sip you will notice an explosion of citrus full of lemon zest and orange peel. With all those citrus flavors, Wittekerke is very thirst quenching during or after any outdoor Florida activity. And because it’s in a can, it’s also practical for Florida activities such as boating, golfing, hanging on the beach or playing a Belgian favorite Petanque (the French version of Bocce Ball). Wittekerke is also a great beginner’s beer; very well balanced and it doesn’t pack a bite nor is it overly sweet.
Those citrus flavors also make Wittekerke an amazing beverage to pair with an array of meals. For starters, and one you might not think of, Wittekerke is known as the brunch beer. Yes, brunch! Move over mimosa. Wittekerke pairs great with eggs in any form, and mixed with champagne or solo it makes a great man-mosa. Wittekerke is a solid companion for any chicken or seafood dish, and some traditional Belgian dishes such asr Waterzooi and Mussels with frites. Personally, my go-to pairing is Wittekerke and some good, old-fashioned American tacos. Try it with something from Amigo’s or Bad Boy’s. Wittekerke is also the perfect beer to put out the fire of anything spicy.
Wittekerke is brewed by the Bavik brewery in the village of Bavikhove in the western part of Flanders, which is in the north half of Belgium. Wittekerke translates to “white church” in English and was the name of a popular soap opera in Belgium. Bavik Wit was the name of the original wit bier until a deal was worked out with the producers of the soap opera. From then on, anyone on the television serial drinking beer was always sipping a Wittekerke.
The witbier style is undergoing a resurgence. Although it’s a 400-year old brewing sytle, witbiers were extinct for a number of years until Pierre Celis revived it around 1965. Celis, a milkman turned brewer, created the beer Hoegaarden. This was known as the quintessential witbier for a long time. In the 1980’s his brewery burnt down. Celis was forced to sell his brewery to InBev.
Today, I would feel confident putting Wittekerke against Hoegaarden in any taste challenge. Both beers are outstanding in their own way, but I feel the blast of citrus you get and the fact that in comes in a can makes Wittekerke shine as the true witbier for Key West.
Nate Fox works for Micro Man Distributors and specializes in import, craft and boutique beers. He considers himself a beer expert and imports select brews from all over the globe to restaurants, bars and