Long-time beer drinker Ross Lewis puts some of Australia's favourite drops to the test.
Of all the varieties of amber fluid on offer in Australia, wheat beer hasn’t been high in bottle count.
Those on the west coast had a fondness for Redback when it was introduced in 1986. It took hold in the local market on the back of the America’s Cup defence a year later when Matilda Bay’s Fremantle base grew rapidly.
So it was generally imported examples, such as Hoegarden, that kept interest in the unique style.
The wheat beer was traced back to European monks up to five centuries ago and Port Macquarie’s The Little Brewing Company has tapped into the traditional methods to produce an outstanding version of “Witbier” or Belgian White Ale.
The Wicked Elf Witbier, one of a few varieties produced under the catchy label, is made up of a 50-50 mix of barley and wheat.
It thus suitably pours a straw colour but produces a generous head that help maintains the freshness throughout the drink.
There is a hint of lime juice – thus no added fruit required – with coriander, even a splash of milk in the taste.
The hops can felt at the finish but it adds to the complexity of this beer.
The Little Brewing Company says there is a secret ingredient in this product. But the Wicked Elf Witbier is such a good drop that it should ensure that wheat beer doesn’t remain a mystery for the Australian consumer for too much longer.
The Sip Snip
Wicked Elf Witbier
Brewer: The Little Brewing Company, Port Macquarie, NSW.
Style: Belgian White Ale/wheat beer
Alcohol content: 5.0%
Standard drinks: 1.3
Estimated calories: 150
Awards: Silver medal, Sydney Royal Show
The Sip Tip: 3.6/5
Average prices: $85/carton. $17/four-pack.