We’ve seen enough science-fiction movies to know that when confronted with a UFO, most people run screaming for their lives, or stand transfixed in fear, awaiting their inevitable — and uncomfortable — probing.
Not the panel at The Basement Beer Tastings. When we see a UFO, we are eager to see what’s inside.
That’s because when it comes to Harpoon Brewery, UFO stands for “UnFiltered Offering” — a beer that has gone through initial filtering, but not the secondary diatomaceous earth fine-sediment filtering that allows you to see clear through the beverage.
Harpoon offers several beers in its “UFO” portfolio, and its UFO White Belgian-style witbeir was included in our “Fruited Beers and Shandies” on account of its purported orange overtones.
But make no mistake. This isn’t a fruity beer. This is a traditional Belgian white. So would it hold muster in the midst of tasting juicier competitors?
The panel rated appearance fairly high, giving it marks for a pleasing cloudy orange-caramel Belgian look. The lack of any notable head was slightly disappointing, but not a detractor.
Smell was decent but unremarkable. While most the panelists picked up hints of orange peel in the aroma, orange took a back seat to the yeasty smell of pizza dough that, again, is common of Belgian-style offerings.
We would have enjoyed a somewhat more pronounced orange scent, since Harpoon touts it in its advertising. But make no mistake about the scent. While it’s light, it definitely has the hallmark of Belgian witbiers.
Taste followed the same characteristics of the aroma — pronounced bready, yeasty flavors with a distant, faint overtone of orange. You know the orange is there, but it’s not predominant. Whether that’s a plus or a minus is a matter of personal preference.
Mouthfeel is thick and coating, then dries your mouth out as the aftertaste comes forward. The aftertaste is dominated again by bready flavors and a slight metallic note.
This combination makes you want to quench your thirst with yet another sip — an effect deemed “refreshing” to our panelists. As a result, drinkability as rated high.
The bottom line? If you crack into a UFO White thinking you’re getting a juicy orange shandy, you’re probably going to be underwhelmed. But if you’re looking for a solid Belgian white summer wheat beer, you’ll find this offering a very good choice.
And, if you’re confronted with enough of these UFOs, you may even find yourself up for some probing.
(Appearance 7, Smell 6.8, Taste 23.2, Aftertaste 14.8, Drinkability 24.6)