By Eric Chandler
I scratched my head looking at the wall of beer choices. Then I saw a russet-colored six-pack from the Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais. I grabbed the Trailbreaker Belgian Style Wit Ale. Research. Someone has to do it.
I spoke with Jason Baumgarth, Head Brewer at Voyageur, about what makes a beer “Belgian.” He made sure I understood that this was a wit, similar in category to a Blue Moon. He said this type of beer has a unique yeast note, wheat as a major grain, and traditionally includes coriander and orange peel. Baumgarth said that he wanted a Voyageur beer that wasn’t as sweet as some wheat beers and finished drier. He said they include cardamom as part of the subtle spiciness. “Approachable” was the goal.
Voyageur is a new brewery with new equipment and test batches started in October of 2014. They opened their taproom to the public in February, 2015, with Trailbreaker as one of their four flagship beers. Baumgarth said he wanted the drink complex enough that a craft beer pro would find it interesting. But he also wanted a rookie craft beer drinker to have Trailbreaker as an option. “Craft beer doesn’t have to be an IPA,” Baumgarth said. I want the newcomer to say, ‘Hey, you know, this is pretty good.’”
I poured another honey-colored glass with a light head. A nice citrus note and a sweet taste that finished clean. Carbonation was medium and pleasant. It was Belgian. It was wheat. But not in your face about it. You know what? It was pretty good.