Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Bottom Up Wit a complex Belgian-style white ale

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

This week, I would like to talk about a summer beer of the Belgian persuasion, a Belgian-style white ale called Bottom Up Wit from Revolution Brewery of Chicago.

When I first started wading into craft beer many years ago, there were a few styles I did not care for, Belgians being one of those. I guess they were a bit too complicated for my palate, and I did not understand them — therefore, I did not like them. My how things change!

A short lesson on Belgian-style beers is in order, as there are many …

The styles are varied to include Amber Ale, Blonde or Golden Ale, Brown, Champagne, Dubbel, Flemish Red, Lambic, Saison, Strong Ale, Tripel, White (wheat) and Winter-Christmas beer.

Beer in Belgium dates back to the first Crusades, before Belgium became an independent country. French and Flemish abbeys brewed and distributed beer as a fund-raising method, by permission from the Catholic Church. These relatively low-alcohol beers of that time were preferred to available drinking water, which was usually unsanitary and ill advised to drink.

The first Trappist brewery in Belgium did not start operation until Dec. 10, 1836, almost 50 years after the French Revolution. That beer was exclusively for the monks, and is described as “dark and sweet.” The first recorded sale of beer was in 1861.

Revolution’s managing partner, Josh Deth, dreamt up the idea for Revolution while working at Goose Island as a cellar man and brew pub brewer. After a few tries at opening a brewery didn’t work out, Josh opened Handlebar in 2003 with his wife Krista and a few friends. Josh also worked as executive director of Logan Square Chamber of Commerce. While working at the Chamber, he found a cool old building on Milwaukee Avenue. Revolution Brewing opened up in February 2010.

The pour of Bottom Up Wit from Revolution Brewery is a slightly hazy, yellow lemon-colored body with a fluffy white head that is a couple of fingers in depth, then slowly dissipates to a quarter-inch, leaving some very nice glass lacing and tons of carbonation bubbles rising.

The aroma is slightly yeasty, with some lemon hints to it with a dried orange note in the finish. There are some grassy hops that sneak through and some coriander notes as well.

The first sip starts out initially yeasty with a sturdy wheat backbone flavor. A lemon tartness is present that takes on some orange characters as it warms with a dry, spicy note from the coriander and a hop tartness lingering in the finish. All the flavors complement themselves very well, adding to the complexity.

The mouth feel is medium and has a gentle carbonation fizz with a nice flow to it, crisp and refreshing. This is a good thirst-quenching beer.

Overall, this is an easy drinking, good wit, accurate to the style, that also has a pleasant Belgian flavor and aroma with an appealing citrus quality. A great summer beer that I’d gladly knock back a few of during the hot summer evenings listening to my beloved Cubs.


Michael Sears is president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a homebrewing club dedicated to the art of finely crafted beer. The club meets the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Sreet. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at

From the June 11-17, 2014, issue

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