The Commons Brewery may be one of my favorite new smaller production breweries in the Portland area. I’ve been very excited to see the upswing in artisanal Belgian-inspired beer. The Wit is their summer seasonal. Apparently, they’re brewing several different beers under this label, all variations on a Belgian White/Blanche/Wit ale. It appears as if they’re probably keeping the base recipe the same but adding different spicing agents to both imitate the original style as well as create new variations of their own. This version has orange peel added at the end of the boil then California grown coriander and lime zest added after fermentation. My guess is they added them after fermentation similar to adding hops post fermentation for “dry-hopping.”
Appearance: A pale gold with blond highlights and a slight amount of haze. White head with poor retention.
Aroma: Citrus, spice, lime. A touch of yeasty esters and graininess.
Taste: There is a nice citrus “oiliness” in the mid palate from the late addition of the zest. It balances out well. It provides a spritz-y acidity that balances out the slight malt sweetness. The mouth-feel is a bit heavier than is perhaps traditional because of the late additions, but not unpleasantly so. I was waiting for this to become too cloying, as is the case with some American Wits, but it maintained its balance and enjoyable nature throughout the entire bottle.
Overall Impression: The one criticism I’d have to raise about this beer is the carbonation level. I like my Belgian Wits to have a carbonation level well above normal for standard beers. That’s part of their refreshing nature. The bubbles carry all the citrus aromas directly to your nose and then scrub the palate clean. It’s a very bright and fun part of the beer. Although, I can assume the late addition of the Lime zest allowed a lot of citrus oil into the beer which affected the head retention and the feel of the carbonation. Oils are a natural enemy to head. Overall, this is only a minor criticism, and I can see why the beer is the way it is because of the brewing processes used. It’s still a great tasting beer and fun variation on a classic style. I’m going to have to seek out a bottle of their true to style Wit for comparison. At least that’s the excuse I’ll use to drink another great beer from The Commons.
Availability: Oregon and soon, British Columbia.