ALLAGASH’S WHITE IS THE littlest brother twice over in the Maine brewery’s year-round lineup of Belgian-inspired brews: it’s the only beer they don’t currently offer in large format bottles and also the lowest in ABV, packing only 5% instead of the nearly 9% average for the other five. Both its modest dimensions and strength do make it Allagash’s most accessible beer, but in the heady array of barrel-aged tripels (i.e. the Curiex) and other Trappist-style triumphs, the workaday White is perhaps a little overmatched.
It bears emphasizing, though, that the White remains a quality beer deserving of esteemed company, and also ranks as the best-in-class amongst America’s craft drinkers. Pouring a cloudy straw yellow (almost more like a Berliner Weiss than a lily pale Wit), the beer has a fluffy white bread kind of head and a wide but gentle array of aromas including clove, lemon, honeysuckle, tangerine, and coriander. Hops are lightly discernible alongside pale pilsner and fresh wheat grains.
Its flavors are fairly complex, invoking in turn other Wits like Blanche de Chambly, Weizens like Weihenstephaner, or even the faint must of a good Saison, but all without being too dense. Beyond these early impressions, distinctive points of lemon and orange peel presage a clean wheat core and then the mildest daub of hops, just enough to encourage another sip.
The mouthfeel, meanwhile, is made unusually round by a nearly medium body and lower carbonation than expected. Perhaps too low, in fact, allowing the finish to be a little over-characterized by dextrins before a gentle cleansing dose of soft water. And that water—however pure—might be the weak link here, seeming to lacks the zip of minerals that gives Belgian Wits their crackling, slightly acidic edge. Some alcohol tang is used as a substitute without quite doing the trick, and the end result is one box on the style outline conspicuously unchecked.
Moreover, when compared against the complex and meticulously arranged recipes that flesh out Allagash’s portfolio, the White simply seems to lag a step behind. Not to say it is lazily crafted in the least, just slightly abridged, or a coda away from completion. Thus it’s still quite tasty— just not entirely right.
Served: 12 oz bottled May 2, 2012