This article was originally written in May 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in October 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after Taste T.O. was shut down and taken offline.
It probably goes without saying that I’m not a discount beer drinker. It’s not that I have a problem with the idea of saving money, but as someone who drinks beer in order to enjoy the aroma and flavour rather than to serve as an alcohol delivery mechanism (well – most of the time, anyway), I’ve found the few “buck-a-beers” that I’ve tried have generally failed to satisfy me.
However, while flipping through the latest President’s Choice Insider’s Report this past weekend, I came across a blurb for a new addition to the PC discount beer line-up: PC Blanche. Considering that every other beer in the PC portfolio is a knock-off of some macro-brewed lager or other, from Genuine Lager to Dry to Honey, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the idea of them tackling the decidedly non-mainstream Belgian witbier style.
I was also encouraged by the fact that Brick Brewing – the brewery that makes the PC beers under the alias Whitewater Brewing – was once the holder of the Canadian brewing rights for Celis White. The same Celis White that was created by Pierre Celis, the man who saved the witbier style from extinction when he founded Hoegaarden in 1966.
With all of that in mind, I set aside my snobbery and picked up some PC Blanche ($16.95/12 x 341 mL, $29.95/24 x 341 mL at The Beer Store), although even with the credentials mentioned above, I wasn’t expecting a lot. Which meant that I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
That’s not to suggest that the beer is the equal of Celis White, or Hoegaarden for that matter. But at least it is pretty close to style, which is more than can be said for some other low-rent attempts to emulate less common beer styles. It has the expected hazy-golden colour, which is evidence that it’s unfiltered as the label promises, and a moderate snow-white cap that dissipates quickly. The body is nice as well, very clean with a refreshing crispness. And the aroma and flavour have the notes expected from a wit – spice, citrus, yeast – although in a more subdued form than one would find in the higher-end versions.
So while it may not hold up to the classics of the style, it’s still a valiant attempt at offering something different to Ontario’s discount beer market. For the budget-minded beer drinker looking to try something more exotic than Wildcat and Bohemian, it’s a great choice, especially for the warm and sunny weekends ahead.