Up to last Thursday I had never been a fan of Belgium beers. Several years ago we attended a tasting of Belgium beers in North Carolina. Overall it was a fun evening but the star attractions, the beers, left me wanting. We were offered samples of six different brews that evening and each was simply too fruity or herby for my liking. As I written before, I like my suds on the natural side.
But, after a horribly hot and tiring day in New York City I retired to the air conditioning of the hotel pub and after perusing the beer list decided on a brand name I’d never heard before, Hoegaarden. It turned out to be a Belgium wheat beer, flavored with coriander and orange peel. At first I was certain I had just wasted the $7 a NYC beer cost. However, it poured a beautiful unfiltered light gold with a finely bubbled head indicating nitrogen and not carbon dioxide. It was perfectly cold and crisp, cutting straight through the harsh dryness of my mouth and throat.
My initial opinion was anything ice-cold would have tasted wonderful but this brew kept on satisfying. That first bottle emptied too quickly so I ordered another. By this time I had cooled off and on the way to being re-hydrated. The flavor continued to be pleasant so I decided this was the one Belgium that I truly did enjoy.
The next day, after another forced march through the lower part of Manhattan we returned to the hotel for lunch and I ordered another Hoegaarten. Different day, different circumstances, but the experience was the same, I like this beer. Next time I’m in a major beer store I’m bringing a six-pack home and continuing the research.