When we visited Walla Walla this past June (read a bit about that here, with some related reviews here and here), one of the beers I picked up was Dragon’s Gate Belgian Wit, a 750ml corked bottle I found at one the downtown specialty shops. Dragon’s Gate Brewery is located in the nearby Oregon town of Milton-Freewater—or rather, outside of it, on a farm on the Oregon-Washington border—and their beers have been mostly confined to the Walla Walla valley area, so I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity for it, despite the bottle costing a relatively spendy $16. (I am thrifty; I have a standing rule that I won’t (usually) spend over $12 for a single bottle of an unknown beer.)
Dragon’s Gate occupies a fairly unique spot in the Oregon brewing pantheon, both by being located in far-eastern Oregon and by being located on an actual farm. Their own site blurb about themselves reads:
A farmhouse nano craft brewery located on the Washington and Oregon border in the Walla Walla Valley wine country. Our definition of a nano-brewery? Small, artisanal, handcrafted ales brewed 1 barrel at a time (while keeping our day jobs!). We brew Belgian inspired and specialty style ales that are complex, full-bodied, and unfiltered. All batches are hand bottled, then go through a process known as “bottle conditioning” which allows carbonation to occur naturally through secondary fermentation. We brew using only the finest ingredients and utilize hops that are grown on our 10 acre farm.
They offer up a variety of styles, though sadly I was only able to find their Belgian Wit. It’s 5.5% alcohol by volume and here’s how they describe it:
A “white beer,” this Belgian wheat beer has smooth mouth feel, grainy flavor, and massive head retention of wheat malt meets dry and phenolic Belgian witbier yeast and the tart, enticing character of coriander and bitter orange peel – very complex and delicate. An appealingly crisp, dry, and refreshing alternative to an American wheat beer.
Appearance: Pale golden, slightly hazy, with a fluffy white head that was maintained nicely throughout the session, fed by a steady stream of bubbles.
Smell: Spicy notes—savory spice, the coriander and bitter orange peel are there, along with cracked pepper. A touch of a soapy note. Raw wheat berries. Phenolic type aromas are muted.
Taste: Mellow, neutral wheat body with a creamy feel and character, tempered by orange peel and pith. Oily-ish bitterness coming from that peel. Very mild spices with the peppery coriander note coming through, perhaps a touch arugula-like. Bready/doughy, perhaps under-attenuated.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a creamy, thick-ish feel on the tongue.
Overall: Lacking the “brightness” for me that a Witbier should have, both in spices and effervescence in the mouth. Drinkable and a decent wheat ale by itself, though I think perhaps under-attenuated which lends to the heavier mouthfeel that mutes the spice characteristics.