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Hoegaarden – The Original Wheat Beer

 

A little village in the province of Flemish Brabant in Belgium, Hoegaarden is the birthplace of ‘Wheat Beer’. Renowned for its rich soil, bountiful wheat harvests, and abundant barley crops, the area has justifiably earned its reputation as a ‘brewing country’.

It all started in Hoegaarden around 1445 with monks who divided their time between prayers, devotion, and the manufacture of wine and beer. The monks were the first to discover the unique recipe for Hoegaarden wheat beer. With a little patience and some truly inspired experimentation, they refined it to the blend we know today.

As this area of Belgium was part of the Netherlands at the time, the monks had access to the diverse range of exotic herbs and spices being imported from the Dutch colonies in the East Indies. Certain historical records suggest that the very first wheat beers were, in fact, intensely sour, and this is what may have led the monks to their creative blending with Curaçao orange peel and coriander. With these exotic ingredients, they created the world famous Hoegaarden recipe.

Over hundreds of years, the village’s brewing industry grew. In 1709, the town boasted 12 breweries and it proved to be a golden century in the town’s history. The wealth of the region continued to grow and by 1726, Hoegaarden possessed 36 breweries and over 110 malting houses.

By the end of the 19th century, Hoegaarden was a true brewing centre with 36 breweries in a village of only 2,000 inhabitants. Hoegaarden’s long-term prosperity seemed guaranteed, but the world was moving on. The post-World War II economy, industrial production, new refrigeration techniques, and the rise of clear lagers all took their toll. The ‘lager revolution’ pulled most of the global market away from traditional wheat beer and in 1957, Tomsin, the last wheat beer brewery in Hoegaarden, closed its doors.

The original wheat beer is the oldest and most famous of Hoegaarden’s range. When poured, it forms a soft, white creamy head and leaves a generous lacing on the glass. Its naturally cloudy, pale hue shimmers when viewed through the glass.

With an aroma of orange peel, coriander and spice, its characteristic taste is entirely unique: smooth, light-bodied, and simultaneously sweet and sour, with a subtle, spiced citrus flavour. Best served in its traditional hexagonal glass.

4.9% ABV

 

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