Hoo Else Makes White Beer?

A world of white ale after Hitachino

That wide-eyed owl is beginning to stalk us.

We'll admit we were charmed at first by the local accessibility of Hitachino White Ale from Japan's Kiuchi Brewery. Then the label's red owl became so commonplace at both bars and restaurants across the city that it began steamrolling our wheat-beer dreams.

After all, there are a startling number of laudable white ales other than the Japanese mainstay. All of them are modeled after Belgian witbiers, so named because the top-fermented wheat beers are traditionally unfiltered, so the hovering wheat proteins and yeast give the beer a hazy, or "white," cast.

Here are some of our favorites, all available at such beer destinations as City Beer Store and Healthy Spirits:

The Bruery Orchard White ($9 for 750 ml) It might be mere coincidence, but the unfiltered, crisp ale from this Orange County brewery teems with aromas of, well, orange. The texture is smooth, thanks to the addition of rolled oats.

Brasserie Pietra Colomba White Beer ($4 for 11 ounces) This bright bottling from the island of Corsica is appropriately distinctive, as the brew is laced with local herbs and spices.

Allagash White ($3 for 12 ounces) There's a wallop of wheat in this beer from Portland, Maine. Yeast is bottled with the brew, so do as the label says: Pour the beer, swirl the bottle, then top with the frothy yeast.