Key West is known across the world for its heavy drinking Duval Street antics. Usually that involves rum or tequila or both, and a lot of it. Luckily the craft beer boom hasn't skipped over this island paradise; brewing is alive and well in the Conch Republic.
This week we're taking a little trip down south to explore Bone Island Brewing Company's Velvet Lace Witt. It's a traditional Belgian wit beer, a pale and cloudy wheat ale that's generally spiced with orange peel and coriander. Some may think of Blue Moon. But think a little harder, and discover beers like Hoegaarden Original White Ale, the incredible Blanche De Chambly from Quebec's Unibroue, and even the once prolific Allagash White. These are beers which, as the Belgians were wont to do back in the day, break free of the Reinheitsgebot (that sometimes pesky German purity law) that kept many German wheat beers free of herbal additives.
Here, with the Velvet Lace Witt, we're met with the traditional cloudy color, a voluminous yellow that produces a small but clingy crown of white foam. Aromas of freshly hand-peeled oranges are met with the mildest of yeast character. But this is not a sweet citrus; it is instead of just under the skin, showcasing the pithy underbelly, and revealing how much in common herbs, spices, and hops can be flavor-wise to beer.
The mouthfeel is moderate and with ample carbonation. It reaches towards spritzy but never quite makes it. The flavors are well rounded, bready and wheaty (if I can be so lazy), and provide decently elevated coriander elements. The seeds provide some added drying character to the beer, and it finishes very refreshing.
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Bone Island Brewing is the creation of veteran homebrewer Jim Brady, who has been brewing since 1993. The brewery currently operates out of the back of a restaurant supply store at 1111 Eaton St in Key West, and samples can be had in the supply store itself. It's also a package store. Just look for the Brewer's Association sticker on the door and you'll know you're in the right spot.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers, and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.