A while back we pointed out a rather tasty stout that occasionally lurked among budget supermarket Lidl’s less than impressive beer range. Since then, someone in head office has seen a bandwagon emblazoned with the words ‘craft beer’ rolling through virtually every town in the UK and they’ve decided to thumb a lift. The result is that Lidl now stock a fair choice of decent beers from local suppliers, sold at cheaper than average prices.
To help promote this new range of beers, Lidl have recruited former blurry Britpop mop top, Alex James, whose class-straddling digits have been in more pies than a drunk at the Ginsters factory. Lidl’s budget pie must’ve looked particularly tempting, perfectly filling a gap in his brand value chart at the other end from his more recent excursions into cheese making country toff territory. So now his grinning features have been captured alongside a bottle of one of our favourite local numbers, Box Steam’s Funnel Blower, in regional marketing campaigns.
But for all the local excellence on display, we’ve noticed a rather splendid Belgian beer joining the party, looking somewhat shy amidst the more brazenly badged British brews.
Blanche de Namur is a wheat beer, brewed in the Walloon region of Belgium by a traditional, family run brewery Brasserie du Boq. Belgian wheat beers, also known as ‘witbiers’, are similar to German weissbiers but are made with two additional key ingredients: bitter orange peel and coriander seeds. These create a zesty, spicy freshness which compliments the ‘banana and clove’ flavours brought out by the yeast.
Blanche de Namur is a particularly gentle kind of beer. Like all good wheat beers it has a naturally cloudy, milky appearance and very subtle flavours. It’s crisp and fresh, easy drinking and thirst quenching. There’s barely any hop bitterness, so those delicate spicy flavours don’t get overpowered, and it’s rounded off with a clean dry finish.
I like to use witbiers as a palette cleanser between heavier drinking Belgian beers. Those refreshing flavours are quick to diminish the effects of stronger brews, restoring a degree of balance to the senses before the next beer shakes them into action once more. Like water, but with added Flavour. And alcohol.
Food matching experts might suggest quaffing a witbier with a rich dish of game or red meat, but I’m sure Alex James finds it equally rewarding with one of his more pungent cheeses.
Brewery: Brasserie Du Boq, Purnode, Belgium
Beer name: Blanche de Namur
Want to have a go at brewing your own witbier? Then take a look in our new book, Brew it Yourself, available here.