Winking Lizard co-owner and beer buyer John Lane tasted the beer three years ago during a visit to the brewery and fell in love with it. Ever since, he's been trying to bring it into the U.S.
The beer, available on draft, will be tapped Oct. 18 at all the Winking Lizard restaurants, which are located throughout Northeast Ohio and Columbus. That day also marks the start of Cleveland Beer Week. Vedett Extra White will replace Hoegaarden on the beer menu.
"It is an extremely balanced, really light Belgian wit with wonderful coriander and dried orange peel flavor," Lane said. "It’s wonderful, wonderful beer. It’s coming to Ohio first and it’s coming to the Winking Lizard first."
The Winking Lizard also will debut Piraat Triple Hop on draft in January on its "Hoppy, Hoppy Handle" at a few restaurants. The beer, which is from Brouwerij Van Steenberge, will rotate among the Winking Lizard locations.
"It’s wonderful," Lane said. "It has some American hop character to it with that beautiful Piraat beer."
American craft beer is hot and the Belgians recognize that and are trying to introduce some more aggressive beers, such as Piraat with American hops, he said. "It’s definitely resonating over there and it’s a way for them to be competitive over here as well," he said.
Lane said it's great to see Ohio getting those Belgian beers first. "It’s another feather in our hat in the little ole state of Ohio," he said.