html034 sent me a couple bombers; the saison's purportedly not ready yet, so the wit gets first crack. To add to the critique, I actually have my Witbier on tap right now, so I poured them side by side for comparison's sake. It should be pretty interesting! Here's the pour, mine's on the right:
Nice hiss at uncapping, slight head. Could use a touch more carbonation to be truer to style. The color and clarity, much different than I was expecting. As you can see, it's relatively clear. Even after a couple days in the fridge, it shouldn't be that clear. Next to mine, it looks like a Tripel. With my recipe, I added a ton of flaked grains---oats, wheat, barley---and even tossed a tbsp of whole wheat flour into the boil to ensure retained cloudiness. However, this is only the first half of the bottle---when I drink the 2nd half in a while, I'll swirl the cake and see if it gets cloudier. Regardless, the color is a touch too dark, and it's too clear. In the future, I'd add the extract at 15 before flameout if you don't already. Looking at your recipe, there's nothing else that would have added that color, so I'll just chalk it up to extract brewing. I know that I was never able to get below like 7 SRM when I was using extract, so I understand. Try adding more flaked grains (oats, barley) next time, and maybe even the tbsp of flour.
Wow, I absolutely cannot comprehend how different the noses are on these 2 beers. Mine is acidic, lemony, and displays the coriander more than anything else. It's also got some barnyardy aromas from the yeast. html's, on the other hand, is all candy. I'm struggling to pick up the spices, which is strange considering that he used more coriander than me, and used the zest of SIX navels! I'm being completely honest here: it smells like a Tripel. It's all candied fruit, maybe some orange, like those little sugar-coated candy orange slices? I'm also picking up a touch of vanilla, which strikes me as very similar to New Belgium's abbey ale. Not stylistically correct, but very inviting and mouthwatering. There's a touch of lemon on the very edges of the nose, too, probably from the coriander.
The palate follows lockstep from the nose. I'd swear this was a tripel if I didn't know better. A good tripel, too! Did you crush your coriander? Because I only used .25oz of coriander and mine is incredibly lemony/orangey---you used twice as much, and I'm still not getting much spice. And I'm astounded that there's not more orange flavor, given how much zest you used. What did this beer finish at gravity-wise? It could be that some residual sweetness is obscuring the spices, but I dunno. It seems too sweet for me, lacking the spice and dryness of traditional wits, and needs more acidity. Next time, try either sauer (acidulated) malt or adding lactic acid before bottling. I added a mere 1/4oz of lactic acid just before kegging, and it gave it the perfect amount of acidity for a wit. The wife just weighed in, and she concurred. It's got a candied sweetness, but it lacks the body the style calls for. You definitely need more flaked grains. But again, the body is perfect for a tripel.
Proximity to Style:
To be honest, it's way, way off the mark. Witbier is a very difficult style to make, period, and doing it with extract is even harder. This is too clear, too sweet, not spicy enough, and lacks the requisite acidity.
For all my harping on style, this is a great Tripel.
Really, all signs point to a tripel. I've seen your recipe and I cannot believe that this beer came from those ingredients. If I were you, I'd be dumbfounded. But regardless, I am very happy with this beer, aside from the style points, which I don't put too much weight on anyway. It's all candy, with subtle spicy notes and tons of maltiness. It reminds me a bit of Gouden Carolus' tripel, but with less alcohol (<-that there is what we call a huge compliment). If I were you, I'd save this recipe, call it a Tripel, and brew it often. If you want another go at the Wit style, amend it a bit: add more flaked grains, add a tbsp of flour to the boil. Add the extract at 15 mins before flameout, and not a minute earlier, and make absolutely sure to find the lightest extract you can. Ramp up your fermentation temps to ensure finished fermentation, and go with acid malt or lactic acid in order to get some acidity. Try dried bitter orange peel rather than fresh zest, and be sure to crush your coriander by putting it into a ziploc and running over it with a rolling pin.
Overall, I really like this beer...it's enjoyable, quaffable, and Belgian-styled. Not a Witbier, but who's counting?
So after all this writing, I'm on my second glass, and this time I swirled the cake:
As you can see, there's a little more cloudiness, which helps a bit. The aroma/palate are virtually unchanged by the swirl, but the clarity is closer to style. It's still very dark for a wit, however, and a little too clear. I still likes it, though.