Belgian Witbier

Glassware: French jelly glass
  • Belgium
  • Ale
  • ABV = 4.5 – 5.5% (Normal)^
  • IBU = 8-20
  • SRM = 2-4
A straw-coloured, wheat-based Belgian ale with flavours of citrus and spice.

Similar in balance to German Weissbier, but with spice and citrus character coming from additions more so than the yeast.


  • Colour^ = Straw to light gold; made white by haze
  • Clarity = Very cloudy

Key Aromas & Flavours:

  • Malt = Moderate; bready, with light grainy, spicy wheat aromatics and often light notes of honey or vanilla
  • Hops = None to low; spicy or herbal, if present
  • Yeast = Low; spicy phenols (peppery)
  • Other = Moderate perfumy-lemony coriander; moderate zesty, citrus-orange fruitiness
  • Malt = Moderate; bready and grainy, with light notes of honey or vanilla
  • Hops = None to low; spicy or earthy, if present
  • Yeast = Low; spicy phenols (peppery)
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = Low
  • Other = Moderate zesty, citrus-orange fruitiness; moderate herbal-spicy flavours, which may include lemony coriander and other spices
  • Balance = Towards the malt; hop bitterness is low and supports the fruit and spice flavours

Refreshingly crisp with a dry finish. No bitter or harsh aftertaste.


  • Body = Medium
  • Carbonation = High; effervescent
  • Creaminess = Often has a smoothness and light creaminess

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Typically 30-60% unmalted wheat, plus Pilsner malt; may use up to 5-10% raw oats
  • Hops = Continental hop varietals, very low level
  • Yeast = Belgian ale yeast
  • Other = Traditionally spiced with coriander seed and dried Curaçao orange peel. Other secret spices are rumored to be used in some versions, as are sweet orange peels.

Historical Development:

One of a group of medieval Belgian white beers from the Leuven area, Witbier died out in 1957 and was later revived in 1966 by Pierre Celis at what became Hoegaarden. After Hoegaarden was acquired by Interbrew, the style grew rapidly and inspired many similar products that are traceable to the Celis recreation of the style, not those from past centuries.

Note: Historical versions may have had some lactic sourness but this is absent in fresh modern versions.

Commercial Examples:

Hoegaarden White, St. Bernardus Wit, Allagash White

^Sourced from the Cicerone Certification Program’s International Certified Beer Server Syllabus (Version 5.0)
All other information is sourced from the BCJP 2021 Style Guidelines.

Discovering Beer is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone® Certification Program.

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