Harlem Brewing Company | Renaissance Wit
ABV: 5.8% | IBU: 12
The mere utterance of Harlem likely evokes a myriad of imagery; it’s a section of New York City that’s oozing with history. The name and label artwork adorning a bottle of Harlem Brewing Company Renaissance Wit speaks to that wealth of history – beer history, music history, cultural history, and everything in between. But, when reviewing a beer, one must refrain from being swayed by the story attached to a beer or brewery. Instead, the beer must be judged on its own merits, and that is what this showcase aims to do. Nevertheless, there’s no reason history and culture can’t be included in the discussion. Craft has always been more than just about beer, and this wheat beer personifies that concept.
The Harlem Brewing Renaissance Wit embraced the tradition — and history — of Belgian brewing with this Wit selection. The beer pours slightly cloudy with a healthy white head. The aroma once the beer is opened, and moreso when poured, screams “wheat beer.” It feels as if the brewery bottled up the freshness of the farm’s harvest — an outstanding scent. The taste is more understated than the aroma as it is fairly typical of a Belgian Wit, although Renaissance Wit possesses a bit more body and a bit more caramel maltiness, which does not deter from the beer’s authenticity.
One will enjoy the wheat flavor accompanied by banana, coriander, cumin and a little orange citrus provided by the orange peel used in the brewing process. Renaissance Wit also blesses beer drinkers with a nice dose of bubbles, too. In fact, the carbonation reminds one of a pilsner, which helps temper any added sweetness attached to the caramel notes. All in all, it’s a wonderfully executed Belgian Wit. The little extra body allows it to be worthy of winter drinking, notably if one is looking for a break from the heavier stouts and barrel-aged fermentations. But, without question, to sip this during the heat of the summer would be tough to beat.
So, Renaissance Wit is a good beer. It’s worth purchasing and consuming. Indeed, I recommend you do.
With that established, one can truly embrace the beer’s purpose in life — to bring attention to culture and history through the simple sip of a beer. For those that don’t know, Central New York (CNY) once existed as the nation’s primary hop source back in the 19th century, producing 90% of the nation’s hops prior to the turn of the 20th century. Belgians, of course, have been brewing beer since the fall of Rome. Throw all that beer history into a bottle that remarks on the cultural, musical, theatrical, and artistic renaissance that occurred in Harlem during the early 20th century and it’s hard not to love this beer. The beer is good, the story is good.
In an era where political and cultural tensions are high, it’s nice to drink a beer that reminds us that the melding of cultures need not be contentious. And few industries bring cultures together better than craft beer – a hop is a hop, a malt is a malt, and a love of beer is a love of beer. Better yet, a beer like Renaissance Wit reminds one that it’s good to sample flavors from all over the world – Belgium, Harlem, or otherwise. When beer is as good as the Harlem Brewing Company Renaissance Wit, it almost inspires one to believe that world peace is possible… at least until the beer runs out.