Beer of the Week: Big Bear Brewing Co.'s Witness

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John Linn
Wit beer understands you -- it also sweats in the sun.

Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it: How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

I don't know if you all have noticed, but it's hot out. Really, really hot. And hot-weather drinking demands a hot-weather beer -- something cooling, light, and crisp that also quenches the thirst. Now before you go grabbing a bottle of Miller Light, remember that you can satisfy all of the above requirements while simultaneously imbibing something that has actual flavor. And for that, you'll want to check out Big Bear Brewing Co.'s current beer du jour, Witness.

(Also check out the next post for pics of Big Bear's bistro burger, which we named Best Burger in South Florida this year. It's a perfect accompaniment to the beer.) 

Witness is a wit, short for witbier, which is a beer made from wheat that is usually, but not always, unfiltered. Wheat, as it were, makes the malt taste rather tangy -- think sour dough bread -- and combined with the unfiltered nature, a lot of equally tart, acidic yeast makes its way into the final brew. These peers are usually pale orange or yellow (even though the wit refers to "white") and very hazy; translucent but not much more. They're often flavored with spices such as coriander and contain a big dose of citrus, usually orange peel.

Big Bear's version makes a case for the classic wit. It incorporates coriander and curaçao orange peel, a popular ingredient in witbier that's also used to make the liquor curaçao. The brew pub also serves its Witness with a slice of orange, which, although a popular garnish, is frowned upon by beer nerds for overpowering the beer's subtle flavors. Whatever. If you want more orange, add an orange slice -- it's no big deal.

Witness is potent at 5 percent ABV, which makes drinking more than two or three of them a challenge on a hot day. Fresh from the tap, it's crisp and clean and very tangy. After it warms, the flavors chill and mellow a bit and you start to pick up a lot more peppery zip from the coriander. At $5 a pint, you'll probably want to drink more of these than you rightly should. The brew should be available for the next few weeks before Big Bear rotates in another selection.

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John Linn
Big Bear's 9.6 percent ABV Imperial Stout, smokey and rich. Also on tap now, and available in cute, five-ounce pours for $1.75.
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John Linn
Down the hatch, Witness.


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