Let’s establish this immediately: if you can have an Allagash White, do it. No questions asked. But if you happen to live in an area where Allagash is not distributed (like Ohio, insert sad face), here are the best American witbiers to tide you over until you can get that beloved White in your beer glass.
Best American Craft Witbiers:
- Allagash White
- Bell’s Bright White
- Bell’s Oberon
- Rockmill Witbier
- Rockmill White Ale
- Goose Island 312
- Dogfish Head Namaste
- Brewery Ommegang Witte
What is witbier?
First off, let’s cover what is witbier? Witbier is a wheat beer typically flavored with notes of citrus and coriander. Fuller bodied than a lager yet light enough to enjoy on a hot summer day.
According to All About Beer:
What then, defines a witbier? These are dubbed white beers, and not wheat beers, because of the pale, almost milky glow of the brew. There are two requirements of this style: first, it must contain up to 50 percent wheat. Sometimes, a small amount of raw oats is added. The effect of the raw wheat and oats on the palate is a silky-smooth mouthfeel, a playful tart and honeyish contrast, and noticeable fruitiness.
Of equal importance in a witbier is the use of spices. The predominant spice is always coriander. Freshly ground, and added late to the kettle to retain its aroma, it should fairly gush from the glass.
Ever had a Blue Moon? It’s an example of a “mass-produced craft” witbier. While Blue Moon will do in a witbier emergency, there are plenty of other American witbiers with amazing (read: better) taste.
That brings us back to the gold standard (white standard?) of American witbier, the Allagash White. It is truly the fist beer I fell in love with. The first beer I seek on vacations or traveling through an airport in a distribution area. The beer I bring back by the case in my car trunk whenever possible.
However, my beloved Allagash White isn’t available in Ohio. So, I make it my personal mission to find great witbier alternatives.
Some of these beers classify themselves as American Wheat Ales or White Ales rather than witbiers. While they may not technically be witbiers, I am adding them to this list as they skew more towards a witbier than the banana-y taste of wheat hefeweizens.
The wheat beer style isn’t at IPA craft brewery status – meaning the pool of candidates of witbiers is much smaller. Liberties must be taken.
Also worth noting: these recommendations are all American craft beers. Belgium, the creator of this style, offers many amazing witbiers as well. Cruise the International aisle of your local beer provider to check those out.
Best American Witbier Alternatives to Allagash White
To establish our baseline, Allagash White has an Untappd rating of 3.76 (on a scale of 5).
Bells Bright White
Many breweries make wheat beers seasonally in the summer and they disappear off store shelves and draft lists as soon as pumpkin-flavored-everything and Christmas ales are released.
I was super excited when Bell’s came out with the Winter White, now called Bright White, which is available November – January.
Wheat beers are my favorite style and I drink them all year long. Bell’s Bright White aptly fills the witbier void during the colder months. It has a hint of clove to it, but isn’t overly spiced like many winter seasonal beers are.
Via Untappd: 5% ABV, 21 IBU
Average Untapped Rating: 3.60 (on a scale of 5) with 18k ratings.
Oberon is Bell’s one of the O.G.s of American wheat ales. Available March – August, it is Bell’s summer answer to winter’s Bright White.
I find it to be a bit spicier and less citrus-y than some of the others on this list, but still refreshing and delicious. Great for sipping by a campfire after a day of hiking.
Via Untappd: 5.8%, N/A IBU
Average Untapped Rating: 3.75 (on a scale of 5) with 295k ratings.
Rockmill Brewery, located in Lancaster, Ohio, is not widely distributed like some of the others on this list, but if you get a chance have a Rockmill Witbier, you’ll be glad you did. It is listed on Beer Advocate’s Top Rated Belgian Beer list.
Prior to getting started as brewery, Rockmill tested the local water and determined it was most like Belgium water, so that’s why Rockmill specialized in Belgium styles.
Via Untappd: 6% ABV, 21 IBU
Average Untapped Rating: 3.60 (on a scale of 5) with 2k ratings.
Rockmill White Ale
The Rockmill White Ale is a bit brighter in taste than the witbier. While the witbier is one of their original standards and tastes great, I prefer the crispness of the White Ale.
Visiting the bucolic taproom on a former horse farm to drink a witbier or white ale is one of my favorite pastimes.
Via Untappd: 4.7% ABV, 10 IBU
Average Untapped Rating: 3.61 (on a scale of 5) with 600 ratings.
Goose Island 312
Goose Island 312 calls itself an “Urban Wheat Ale.” I don’t know what that means, other that delicious. Of the beers listed here, I think 312 is one of the best to pair with food.
Distributed across the United States, odds are good you’ll be able to track down 312 at your local brewpub or even in the beer section of your grocery store.
Via Untappd: 4.2% ABV, 18 IBU
Average Untapped Rating: 3.44 (on a scale of 5) with 298k ratings.
Dogfish Head Namaste White
Namaste White is of the spicier witbiers on this list, perhaps because of the addition of clove. The citrus taste does a good job of balancing that spiciness, keeping the beer from feeling too heavy for a witbier.
According to their website, Dogfish Head says it is:
With notes of clove and subtle coriander, you’ll find flavors of citrus and sweet malt, with a slightly spicy finish for a zesty mouthfeel.
Namaste White, I bow to the divine beer in you.
Via Untappd: 4.8% ABV, 20 IBU
Average Untapped Rating: 3.60 (on a scale of 5) with 170k ratings.
Brewery Ommegang Witte
Ommegang Witte, despite it’s haziness, has that crispness to it I like. This witbier is an easy drinker that goes down (a little too) well around a summer campfire.
Coriander and clove nicely balance the citrus in this beer.
Via Untappd: 5.2% ABV, 11 IBU
Average Untapped Rating: 3.66 (on a scale of 5) with 78k ratings
Best American Witbiers and White Ales
Here are the above beers in order ranked by Untappd ratings. Do keep in mind, however, your favorites may vary. These rankings are subjective and you’ll want to give them all a try to find your favorites.
- Allagash White – 3.76 on a scale of 5
- Bell’s Oberon – 3.75 on a scale of 5
- Brewery Ommegang Witte – 3.66 on a scale of 5
- Rockmill White Ale – 3.61 on a scale of 5
- Bell’s Bright White – 3.60 on a scale of 5
- Rockmill Witbier – 3.60 on a scale of 5
- Dogfish Head Namaste – 3.60 on a scale of 5
- Goose Island 312 – 3.44 on a scale of 5
Have I missed a great witbier or wheat ale?
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