Have I ever mentioned how much I love Long Trail?
Since my first days drinking craft beer, Long Trail Brewing Company has been a constant presence in my beer rotation. The brewery’s regular releases – an Alt, IPA and Stickebier – are super-solid brews. Combine that with the fact that the beers are prolific and cheap and you’ve got a killer combination for a microbrewery. Long Trail has further upped their game this year by releasing the highly regarded Brewmaster Series, which consists of an Imperial Porter, Coffee Stout, Double IPA and, now, a Winter White.
Beyond the beers themselves, Long Trail runs a kick-ass overall operation. The brewery in Bridgewater Corners, a wicked cool bar/brewery/gift shop/beer garden, is a must-visit if you’re ever in central Vermont. In their 20 years of operation, Long Trail has also been committed to reducing the environmental impact of their brewery. They accomplish this through some pretty neat green initiatives, which are detailed over at Eco Brew. With the impending purchase of fellow Vermonters Otter Creek, I hope that both breweries can increase their capacity and distribution while staying close to their green roots.
As I mentioned above, the newest release from Long Trail is the fourth beer in the Brewmaster Series. The Winter White, a Belgian Style Witbier, checks in at just over 7% alcohol by volume. The label of the 22oz bomber promises bitter orange, sweet orange, and corriander, and certainly seems hefty enough to stand up as a winter beer.
As a lot of craft beer drinkers know, calling a beer white is a bit of a misnomer. True to form, the Winter White pours cloudy gold with a billowing white head. This is definitely a wheat beer – even holding the cloudy brew up to a light, it’s impossible to see through the dense interior. The nose is … intense. The bitter and sweet orange dominate, with the smell damn close to OJ with hints of pepper, lemon and the coriander. This doesn’t smell like beer in the traditional sense. Even in the world of spiced and estered-out wits and weisses, the smell here is an intense fruity perfume.
Now, this is a beer to give to your friends that swear they don’t like beer. The sweet malty and bitter hoppy flavors associated with most brews are almost impossible to draw out, and the high alcohol content is invisible. Instead, you’re left with a clean and crisp fruit flavor. Most of the sip is orange rounded out with a bit of toasty wheat behind it, and the whole thing ends with corriander, pepper and slightly bitter spice. It’s worth noting that, despite the name, there isn’t anything particularly wintery about this beer. I’m not sure if the name came from the high ABV or simply the time of the release, but I hope no one comes into this expecting a blast of nutmeg, spruce or other winter flavors.
Name complaints aside, this is a stellar beer. Although I’m probably predisposed to liking anything that Long Trail releases, I continue to be absolutely blown away by the beers in the Brewmaster Series. This is a beer for lovers of flavorful drinks, an artisan introduction for non-beer drinkers, and a slightly extreme approximation of an Belgian style.
Find it. Drink it. Enjoy it.