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Whaleback White - Leelanau Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Whaleback WhiteWhaleback White

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

52 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 52
Hads: 95
Avg: 4.05
pDev: 14.07%
Wants: 29
Gots: 5 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Leelanau Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Witbier |  5.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: putnam on 08-11-2005

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (3) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 52 | Hads: 95
Photo of Sammy
3.86/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Strong funky aroma, some liniment as well. Attractive white body with generous big bubbled head. Above average mouthfeel. Tart not sour is the feature, with a witbier in the secondary. Very drinkable. Masterful. all this flavour in these styles at sessionable abv. But the aroma may scare off the timid.

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Photo of metter98
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is hazy pale yellow in color and has a moderate to high amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down a bit and consistently left a thin head overnight the surface.
S: Light aromas of funk are present in the nose.
T: Aromas of wheat are present in the nose along with notes of orange and hints of coriander spices, the latter of which are most noticeable towards the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and slightly tart on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is easy to drink and has nice hints of sourness. It reminds me a lot like a Jolly Pumpkin beer and the bottle label notes it was brewed and bottled there.

Note: Bottled 7/10/12

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Photo of emerge077
4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a semi-hazy pastel yellow, lots of effervescent upward carbonation. Three fingers of foam, with a meringue surface.

Dusty wheat and peach candy in the aroma, similar to Calabaza Blanca but not identical. A touch of the rustic oak barrel also.

Coriander, rosemary, tart lemon with a faint wheaty backbone. Dry finish keeps thirst quenched with continued sipping. It has a juicy feel at first that dances momentarily, and quickly evaporates. As it warms up, the herbal notes come through a bit more, and the wheat is faint in the aftertaste.

Carbonation is prickly like mineral water, but works well with the tart lemon. Overall it's a great thirst quencher, and at around 5% abv, it's easy to finish a bottle yourself.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sun-washed gold with lemonade trim. I wouldn't call the carbonation Champagne-like, but it's definitely on the generous side. It creates and is maintaining an airy, bright white crown that filled half the glass on the initial pour. Broad swaths of lace appear on the glass, are washed away, and then reappear with each subsequent pour.

Seeing the words 'Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales' on the label (as in 'brewed and bottled... by') led me to expect the farmhouse funkiness that is present in the nose. There goes any chance of a classic witbier aroma. In fact, I'm not even sure I can appreciate coriander and Curacao orange peel. If style is ignored completely, as I've chosen to do, the nose is pleasureable and indicates an interesting experience yet to come.

Whaleback White is anything but a standard wit. That said, it maintains enough resemblance to the style to be a success rather than a failure. For once, I don't mind the JP way of doing things because it hasn't been taken the the 'nth' degree. Be aware, though, that this is one distinctive witbier.

Enough malt sugars have survived to give the beer a sneaky, pale malt sweetness that is the key to whole shootin' match. It keeps things grounded and allows the other flavors and flavor sensations to do their things unimpeded. Top notes include a citrus peel tartness that is as much lemon as orange; a light dusting of ground clove, cardamom and white pepper; and a moderate dose of Brett that adds untold complexity to what is tasting more and more like a witbier-lambic-wild ale hybrid.

Aging WW in 100% new French oak (new, as opposed to previously having held wine or spirits) adds yet another facet. It gives the beer a Chardonnay-like oakiness that is growing on me with each passing ounce. Now that I've reached the midway portion of this '750', I'm fully onboard.

Given the flavor profile, the mouthfeel is entirely appropriate. It has a solid foundation (again, because of the malt sugars), but is almost ethereally light and sparkling, like fine Champagne. More volume and a hint of light creaminess (think world-class Belgian) would be needed to tempt me into breaking out the big score.

Whaleback White uses the classic witbier palette, along with a few new colors and some subtle shading, to create something close to a masterpiece. It pushes the limits of the style without blowing right through them. I wish the majority of the Jolly Pumpkin beers would follow suit.

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Photo of superspak
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 7/10/2012. Pours moderately hazy golden straw color with a 2 finger fairly dense white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass, with some moderate streaming carbonation. Aromas of big tart apple, lemon, pear, clove, pepper, hay, grass, wheat, oak, vinegar, leather, funk, and yeast earthiness. Incredible aromas with awesome complexity and balance of yeast ester and oak notes; with great strength. Taste of tart apple, lemon, pear, pepper, clove, wheat, bread, hay, grass, oak, vinegar, leather, funk, and yeast earthiness. Fair amount of earthy tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of light fruits, pepper, clove, wheat, bread, hay, grass, oak, vinegar, leather, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a bit. Damn nice balance and complexity of yeast and oak notes; with a light malt balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and light-medium bodied; with a very smooth, crisp, lightly prickly, and lightly acidic mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent wild witbier! All around great complexity and balance of oak and yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a bright pale golden body with a large rocky white head, looks almost like a pils more so than a wit on first glance. Lacing is left on the glass in patches of fine lacing sporadically aligned on my Hoegaarden tumbler. As the final dregs of yeast sediment are poured into this brew, it transcends from a slightly hazed pale yellow to a full on cloudy golden white ale.

Aromatically my first thought was a nice chardonnay, dry yet fruity and peppery with spice notes. The acidity from the orange peel and spice additions with the French Oak barrel aging develops that wine like characteristic although no grapes were harmed in the making of this beer.

Flavor provides a great blend of flavors from the tart fruit to the wild yeast components of leather and yogurt like tartness. Heavy on the citrus and acidity, addition of spices add sharp peppery and bitter bite to it. Creamy yogurt sweet yet a lactic finish exists with wild horse blanket barnyard funk. Somehow it's all refreshing when blended together.

Mouthfeel is sharp with acidic notes yet dry with oak barrel aging effects and spice additions. Carbonation is champagne like very effervescent tiny bubbled creation, this one really stays on the palate. Wild American ale might outweigh a hoppy beer in a tasting lineup, a brew that could throw me into palate fatigue very easily if in a drinking session with different beers.

Drinkability is nice for the complexity factor I had the Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca last night aged in a 12 oz portion for over a year last night and felt it was dead on. I enjoyed this version as well but the acidity weighed to heavy to become a session beer for me. Other than that excellent, this Whaleback White was also aged for a year and if you're in the Pittsburgh area make it to Valley Wine Cellar in Steubenville OH to grab a few bottles of this and Leelanau Golden Ale that has been aged since the first bottling of this release.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Shared by Thorpe429. Thanks Mike.

The beer is hazy straw yellow with an inch of white head. The aroma offers soft citrus and light spice. A touch of funk adds a nice touch. Light and fluffy on the palate. Really tasty, though different from a traditional witbier.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours with a fully hazy, yet bright yellow-straw colored bee. It is topped by a pillowy, frothy, pale, off-white colored head that starts out a full four fingers in thickness; the head dissipates at a medium pace, but always keeps the beer fully crowned by at least a thin layer of froth. The aroma is a mix of damp spices; sort of a mix of a damp, freshly rained upon earthiness, some definite orange zest, a smooth lemon-like & cleanly earthy coriander note as well as a mix of ginger, white pepper, something floral (like mix of honeysuckle & orange blossom). This has a fantastic nose to it; quite vibrant & actually quite spice dominated, yet the spices are so well integrated that they are not too much. There are some hints of funkiness here, but for now they are really quite soft.

Quite dry and it is well carbonated as the beer froths up as it hits my tongue for the first time. The bone dry character of this beer accentuates a nice, almost biting, tartness that, with the orange zest notes, makes this beer taste lemon like. Despite coming from the Jolly Pumpkin brewery, this is actually quite clean tasting; I wouldn't guess there were any wild bugs here. There is a soft oak character to this beer though; it is barely perceptible at first, but contributes a oak-like spiciness as well as a touch of tannic backbone. Both of these wood-derived notes are noticeable in the finish. The wood is actually at just about a perfect level of flavor integration; it is subtle enough that it is almost not noticeable, yet it does contribute to the character of this brew, even if it is just a supporting role. Soft, zesty notes of coriander sort of blend with the spicy oak notes. The beer is not nearly as spicy in the flavor as it was in the nose; ultimately I think this is a good thing as it allows hints of barrel notes as well as a soft wheat character to come through in the flavor. Flavor notes of orange blossom honey, subtle-yet-sharp lavender, white pepper and young ginger are all noticeable in the taste.

This is a very nice example of a Wit beer. Despite the fact that I was hoping for some wild funkiness (which is certainly not here), I am really enjoying this beer. I really like the mix of spice notes, grain character and the fact that this is bone dry and so light and drinkable; truely a perfect warm weather drinker. I am a sucker for Wit beers and this one really hits the style & more importantly it hits the spot that satisfies my craving for tasty Wit beers. This is possibly one of the best, non-funky Wits out there.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hopdog for opening this up...
Appears a pale yellow with a small white head. Little spots of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of tart apple with wheat and some oaky, wild brew with lemon, and clove.
Taste is of the same aromas.
Mouthfeel is tart and dry.
hopdog opened up a Calabaza Blanca side by side b/c I was suspicious about this being the same brew. The Calabaza Blanca is more sugary, with pronounced orange(while this was lemony), and less tart than this.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.82/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Serve in a chalice)

A- This beer has a pale straw yellow hued body that is crystal clear with a big carbonation of large bubbles. There is a huge white head that last and sticks to the glass as the beer is sipped.

S- The smell of fresh rain and slightly musty basements gives way to a crisp yeasty hint and a slight funky grapefruit quality.

T- The taste is pretty light and crisp with a light lemon zest note followed by a soft grapefruit bitterness at the finish and a light dish soap note that lingers for just a second. When the beer is really warm the coriander comes through in the finish followed by some green herbal hops hints.

M- This beer has a light mouthfeel with a tight fizz finish and a texture that is more full when you get more foam in a sip.

D- This beer has a nice bright smell to it but the taste doesn't follow through. It is a bit thin and watery until the beer is at room temp.

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Photo of Tone
3.92/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, pale gold color. 1/3 inch head of a white color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of tart malt, wheat, yeast, slight citrus, and a hint of hop. Fits the style of a Witbier. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with a high carbonation level. There is also a tartness present. Tastes of tart malt, wheat, yeast, citrus, and a hint of hop. Overall, good aroma, body, and blend.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a big-bubbled 1 1/2" white head over the cloudy straw brew. Head snow-cones above the top of the glass, leaving heavy foam coats of lacing. Aroma is spices and citrus. Taste is quite tarts, but the spices and wheat take the edge off, making it all work quite well together. Mouthfeel is smooth, even with the tartness, and drinkability is good as well. I'm not the world's biggest appreciator of wits, but this one makes me rethink that position. Nice stuff.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.44/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a hazey mandarin orange juice color with very little head. Good bubbling and random sediment at the bottom. Reminds me of funky citrus, peaches, white sour cherries with an overall oak undertone. Reminds me of a mild smelling lambic. The taste is a tart fruit with notes of barnyard funk, oak casks, and a little limey zest. he palate is a wet yet almost sour zest. A bit hard to have more than one of these for my taste.

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Photo of drpimento
3.03/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This to me is a style that is less open to interpretation. Given that this poured with an excellent head with great retention and lace. Color is a straw/lemonade yellow. Aroma is fresh, tart, slightly malty and no spices despite label. Body was a tad thin but had good carbonation. Compared with the gold standard wits it's ok; on its own a bit better. Finish is ok, short; nothing special. Session beer if you're into tart.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml format; bottled on 08/09/2011.

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: A pale and bright straw yellow bodied beer. The beer has 1 finger worth of white head that drops down to a thin cap.

Smell: Lemons, spicy, funky, wheat, and hay. This is not you standard wit beer! Really nice!

Taste: starts off with moderate lemon tartness. Hint of oranges and granny smith apples. The funkiness hits midpalate on into the finish and I would say the barnyard funk almost matches, but really balances the lemon flavors nicely. Some bready and yeasty notes are found in this beer as well. You do get the spiciness from the nose as a faint pepper and coriender notes. I get oak barrel in the finish and some earthiness to compliment the oak. This is not your standard witbeer...its way better.

Mouthfeel: Almost a medium bodied beer, but I am going to says it on the high end of light bodied. Its heavy for a witbeer anyways. Carbonation levels are moderate. The beer feels heavier than a witbeer, but its still really easy drinking. Its tart, crisp, refreshing, and mildly acidic. Finishes a little bit dry and tart.

Overall: Really enjoyable beer for a hot day. More of a sour than a witbeer, but the two styles overlap. This beer has taken the best charistics from both styles and used them to the beers advantage! Got really lucky finding this beer!

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Photo of Brenden
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer showed up as part of the Monday night mini-tastings I go to with some people in Toledo. All I saw was the bottle and I had no info on the beer before trying it. That said, anyone expecting a traditional witbier will be surprised. For me, it was a pleasant surprise.

It's obviously unfiltered, as it ought to be, so the sediment is quite heavy and the cloudiness is thick. The color is a somewhat darker than typical medium yellow. The head is white and soft, dropping to a foam and leaving a bit of spotty lacing around.
The aroma offers soft lemony sourness bantering with Belgian yeast in an interesting way; they play off each other pretty well rather than clashing. A level and gently pronounced spicing comes out underneath.
The flavor is the same, but there's a bit more complexity that comes out. The lemon sourness is natural without being biting, slightly acidic without being overwhelmingly so. Nothing's overdone but nothing's underdone, either; the light dusty, earthy and sweet notes of the Belgian yeast and spicing combine with the lemon and a light funk to make for a soft but strong flavor full of depth. An almost woody dryness pulls through underneath as well.
This is appropriately light for the style, with a gentle but steady carbonation. The crisp nip is never bracing or harsh and doesn't fade, nor does the smoothness that keeps this beer flowing all the way through the finish.
This beer is not what I expected, but it was a pleasant surprise.

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Photo of gford217
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500mL bottle courtesy of xnoxhatex poured into a tulip. My first beer from this brewery actually.

Pours a bright, hazy golden yellow with a big bubbly white head that is continually fed by a steady stream of bubbles from the bottom. The lacing is very good and a rocky white cap stays on for the duration.

The aroma has tart lemons with a healthy dose of yeasty sourness and some barnyard funk creeping in. There are plenty of spices, including clove, and bready malts in the background.

The taste is very tart up front, a combination of tart, sweet fruits and the Belgian yeast. The bready malts form a backbone that gives way to a dry, yeasty finish with the funk lingering on the palate.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and spritzy on the palate with lots of bubbly carbonation. It's dry and much more tart than a typical Belgian wit, but it's also extremely refreshing with the tartness really adding a complexity that I enjoyed.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle (bottled 8/9/11) into a wine glass at Spuyten Duyvil.

A: Lightly hazed gold body; a thin white head settles into a ring. Nice.

S: Lovely. Fresh, tart aroma of sour citrus, floral Brett, and general sour goodness. Awesome!

T: Even juicier and citrusier than the nose, with solid tartness underscoring the bright fruit and moderate minerality. Clean, tart, dry finish. Delicious.

M: Soft, delicate, ultra-fine carbonation in a medium body. Great.

O: The bartender recommended this as consolation for the last Fou'Foune having just been sold, and (while no Cantillon) it was a terrific surprise. Definitely more of a Wild Ale than a Witbier (even wilder than Anchorage Whiteout Wit, which was just purely Bretty - Whaleback is both funky and sour), this one delivers pure, unadulterated sour goodness. My friends and I all agreed that this was a real winner. I'll be seeking out more Leelanau stuff the next time I'm at a good NY bottle shop.


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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 10/6/09. Bottle. Pours a cloudy golden yellow with a thick white head. Aroma of sour funk (barnyard), tart candies, lemon, bready malt, and light citrus. Flavor is light and sour with bready malt in the background. Overall, light crisp sourness with a touch of bitter hops. Not really a witbier; this just tastes like the other Jolly Pumpkin sour ales or maybe a sour Belgian ale (pretty similar to Bam Biere). Enjoyable.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Beer is clear golden, with a very small white head.

Nose contains oak and funk. Smells lambic like. Light floral scents, peach.

Taste contains peach, light funk. Tart. Oak. Light fruits are nice, very delicate. Very nice.

Medium bodied, moderately carbonated. A bit dry.

Overall, really quite a nice beer. Nice twist on the witbier.

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Photo of SpdKilz
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First of all, a huge thanks to erikkoppin for this tasty beer. Cheers!
Appearance - Pours into my JP Pint Glass with a slightly hazy, golden color. Only about a half a finger of head is achieved with a moderate pour, that quickly dissipates leaving little lacing.

Smell - Citrus, coriander, orange peel, barnyard funk, wheat, must.

Taste - Quite tart in the initial sip. My mouth puckers expectantly. Lemon zest, oak, sour cherries, wheat, and spices. So damn enjoyable in this 80 degree "fall" day in Southern California.

Mouthfeel - Medium to lighter bodied, prickly carbonation.

Drinkability - I am trying not to quaff this. Bursting with mouth-puckering flavor, this is a real treat. Glad I was able to try this and if I happen upon it in the future I will be sure to pick it up. Very good.

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Photo of AleWatcher
4.58/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottled 08.09.11

Looks like a cloudy white wine. Golden yellow... Virtually no head. Thin oily legs, no lace.

Smells glorious. Spicy wheat notes blend with lemony citrus sour tartness and create a delicious bouquet.

The flavor has all the notes from the nose, plus a light oaky character and a bit of earthy funk. The lemony tart sourness is amazing.

Medium feel with low carbonation... Really nice.

Overall-- very fucking nice. This IS the best wheat beer ever! Ever!

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Photo of brewcrew76
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Hazy light yellow with bubbly carbonation and a thin white head.

S - Wheat with a tart fruity aroma, lemon zest, oak and some wild Brett funk.

T - Lemon zest and coriander turning quickly to barnyard funk but only for a second before a lingering Sweettart (the candy) flavor takes over.

M - Light with prickly carbonation and a dry finish.

D - I am assuming these are Jolly Pumpkin barrels since they have some of the same Brett/wild yeast characteristics. A tasty wit that has the regular wit flavors with a nice mix of wild yeasts.

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Photo of granger10
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The new offering from Leelanau Brewing Co. contract brewed by Jolly Pumpkin. I had to get it. I pour immediately upon taking this beer from the fridge. Bright yellow color, somewhat hazy along with an airy, volumnous, somewhat fizzy head. Aroma is muted by the coldness of which I first try this beer and so is taste. When ice cold all I really get is a fruit sweetness with a lemony accent. A bit winelike. But after 10-20 minutes this beer really opens up and the flavors meld together. Aroma is yeasty, a bit sour, some coriander in there, and herbal tealike notes. Flavors work together really well. Soft yet full bodied, yeasty yet fruity and a bit hoppy. Really bubbly in the mouth. Spices underlying in there come out towards the dry finish. The yeasty flavor gives this beer a sourness one normally wouldn't find with the other flavors. Some could really like it and some could really hate it. It took me about a glass and a half to really get used to it. More citrus flavors as the beer comes out. The finish also has quite a bit of acidity to it. Finish is clean and rounds out the flavors well. This beer could improve with age except I don't know if the abv will allow it to. I guess I'll have to come back to another bottle and find out some time down the line.

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Photo of jwinship83
4.31/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml capped bottle drank out of my new belgium globe glass. its not the usual glass choice for the style, but this isnt the typical witbier.

A- this one pours out a hazy golden yellow colored body with a large two finger bright white head. the head lasts a long time and leaves behind a solid wall of lacing. cant ask for anything more.

S- the first thing i get are some of the usual wit smells. belgian yest, coriander, and clove. after that i pick up a burst of lemon zest and earthy/musty "funk." theres a definite tart component to this.

T- the taste starts out like the typical wit again. bubblegum, banana, clove, coriander. then comes a nice musty/earthy/barnyard like thing with lots of lemon as well. not as tart as i was expecting.

M- light bodied and thin. a very high level of carbonation. long aftertaste and a very dry finish.

D- after learning that this was brewed by jolly pumpkin i put it on my list of things to try. it was bumped to the top as soon as it went on sale. i wish i had grabbed this one sooner. very different, and in a good way. ill have no problem downing the rest of this bottle.

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Whaleback White from Leelanau Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 52 ratings.