OF COURSE THERE should be winter seasonals called White Christmas, and it follows that at least some of them should be Witbier (Wit meaning ‘white’). In some respects the style is indeed suited to the season: its light, unfiltered wheatiness mirroring the snowfall while additions of orange peel and spice and reflect holiday potpourri. But as Samuel Adam’s White Christmas demonstrates, sometimes the parallels on paper don’t quite come together in the mash-tun.
Colored a hazy honey (SRM of 6), White Christmas looks more like a Hefeweizen than truly wintry Belgian Wit. Its aroma is also denser, carrying honey and sweet malts alongside orange peel (gentler like clementine) with cinnamon and nutmeg as spices instead of the more traditional coriander. At 8 IBUs the Spalt hop bitterness is virtually nonexistent, leaving the body too sweet despite its pleasantly champagne-like effervescence. The finish has a very light tang and pleasantly creamy conclusion, but the weight of the body in the midsection prevents the beer from ending on a particularly high note. As Sam Adams should already know from their cumbersome Imperial White, this style is truly better off left alone, even in the depths of December.
Served: 12 oz bottle