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Where in Town: Georgetown Wine & Spirits, 2701 P St., NW
Amid speculation over the merger of two of the world’s largest beer companies—AB-Inbev and SABMiller—I’ve been trying out a few imported macro-brews. Perhaps I was brainwashed by all the hours of the Tour de France I watched this month, but I grabbed a six-pack of Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc, the spruced-up sister to France’s ubiquitous Kronenbourg 1664 pale lager. The brewery, located in Strasbourg not far from the German border, is owned by the world’s fourth-largest brewing company, the Carlsberg Group, whose beer sales account for seven percent of the global market, compared to AB-Inbev and SABMiller’s combined 30 percent.
Things started out well. The 1664 Blanc looks like a typical Belgian-style witbier—cloudy and pale gold in color, with a thick white head. Its enticing, sweet nose has notes of peach and lemon. But the beer’s flavor is cloying and artificial, much like another European import, Haribo Gummy Bears. The beer’s Strisselspalt hops, from the Alsace region where the original Kronenbourg brewery is located, are barely perceptible, and the orange peel and coriander are only detected on the finish. The five-percent alcohol brew is thin-bodied and drinks more like a shandy or fruit-flavored seltzer than a witbier. In the macro-beer realm, I’d reach for Hoegaarden or Blue Moon before this beer, and would happily drink an Allagash White over all three. If you crave something from France, I’d suggest one of the Bière de Gardes from Castelain or La Choulette, found at shops with notable import selections like Pipetown Traders in Southeast.