Here at HonestBrew HQ we love sipping on a wheat beer but we have to admit that the ‘wheat beer’ is probably the most unappreciated category amongst our Honesty Box members. While it’s a style that can get an unfair rap – too sweet or too gassy for some – there is a lot more to discover about wheat beers. We thought it time to shine a light on the different variety of styles and flavours available.
Weizen Bier, Hefeweizen, Weizen bock (strong); kristallweizen (clear); weisse (white); and dunkel weisse (dark) are the most commonly known styles of wheat beer and have been produced predominantly by bavarian breweries in increasing quantities over the past few years.
Contrary to popular belief, the addition of wheat to a beer actually produces very little flavour and is primarily for producing texture and that billowing sail-like head. The distinctive banana and clove flavours that wheat beers are associated with comes from the use of carefully selected yeast (that once upon a time likely started out as a saison yeast).
For people who like dark beers, dunkels offer a characterful alternative to a porter and stout, while a saison drinker will draw similarities from Bavarian wheat beers. Here are three styles of wheat beers we dare you to try this year:
Belgian Wit has survived thanks to one man’s passion for his local speciality. While nearly all Wit beer production had ceased in Belgium by the 60’s, Pierre Celis (from the village of Hoegaarten) was determined to keep producing the style he remembered fondly from his youth. This style of beer gains significant character from the orange peel and coriander added to the brew and is a reminder of a time when beers rarely used hops for flavour. Using a special belgian yeast strain, this wheat beer has none of German ‘hefe’ yeast character. Try White Hag’s Fionabhair Wit or Howling Hops Rye Wit Pale Ale
After the fall of the Berlin wall it was discovered that many East Berlin breweries were holding onto some pretty old school brewing techniques. One of these techniques, souring wheat-based beer with lactic fermentation, has been popularised in breweries around the world as berliner weisse and can be traced back to medieval techniques. These beers are often low in ABV thanks to an unusual fermentation that gives tart fruit flavours and a refreshing dry finish. Try Buxton Far Skyline Berliner Weisse
When Americans started their adventures in brewing they explored many european styles but without access to the special wheat yeasts available in Europe they had to instead settle with a very refreshing version of German wheat beer. Again there is no banana or clove flavours to be found but is very effervescent and has a slight fruit character from the ale yeast used. Perfect as a refreshing golden ale in summer. Try Weird Beard K*ntish Town BearD Wheat Ale