I understand that people get bored. It happens to us all from time to time. And I get it that brewers will occasionally want to try something different just to spice things up.
But putting chicory in beer? I think there may be a line drawn there. Or a good ways before you get to there in fact.
Recalling previous tastings of some historical experimental brews, I think the problem starts whenever you get away from using hops. Beers like Gageleer or Dupont’s Cervesia, which rely on bog myrtle instead of hops, may be interesting, but they’re not anything I’d buy again. The same is true for other pre-hop era remakes like Dogfish Head Theobroma or Dogfish Head Midas Touch: after the novelty wears off, you just have to ask yourself if this is really anything that people want to drink.
Still, I tried to keep an open mind as I approached Hof ten Dormaal Wit Goud, a beer made by replacing some hops with chicory.
The main reason to think that Wit Goud might be worth it is that Hof ten Dormaal produces some amazing beers. There’s the excellent Hof ten Dormaal Blond and the even better Hof ten Dormaal Donker. I’ve been very impressed in the past, so I thought that maybe, just maybe, this chicory brew might be OK. Plus, I actually like to eat chicory -- the “white gold” of this region -- quite a lot.
Wit Goud pours a rusty orange-brown, and it’s got a kind of a whiskey nose about it. The taste is initially a cooked vegetable sweetness, like caramelised onions, fading into honey. 8%. To me, it’s too sweet and, oddly, it’s not bitter enough. You’d expect a beer made with chicory to be more bitter.
So, another experiment with hop replacement, and all I can say is thank goodness they didn’t take all the hops out. It may be the only thing that saves this beer. Still, if I see Hof ten Dormaal beers on the shelves, I’ll go for the Blond or the Donker.