What’s Brewing? Wheat beers for the win this summer
Wheat is a grain that has been used for brewing for many years. In fact, we know the ancient Egyptians brewed with wheat and there’s a hieroglyphic to prove it. Let’s take a quick look at some of the various types of wheat beers and why they’re so refreshing to consume during summer months.
Today, we consider Germany to be the origin of modern wheat beer. What makes a beer a wheat beer is the quantity of malted wheat used vs. malted barley. Most wheat beers include at least 30% malted wheat and in many recipes much more. Adding wheat to a beer creates a silky mouthfeel and a longer-lasting head. If your wheat beer has a hazy look, it’s from proteins that are purposely left unfiltered. Typically wheat beers are highly effervescent and are light in flavor, so they make a great summertime choice.
Hefeweizen is a popular cloudy looking type of wheat beer due to it being unfiltered. The yeast used to ferment this beer creates distinctive aromas and flavors of clove and banana. Many people wonder if there is actual banana and/or clove in this beer because the flavors are so strong.
Witbier was first brewed in Belgium as early as the 14th century. Witbier is brewed using unmalted wheat along with sometimes oats and malted barley. “Wit” simply means “white” in German and appropriately denotes the very light yellowish or almost white color of this beer. Belgian Witbiers are most often spiced with coriander and orange peel.
This beer originated in northern Germany. It is fermented with ale yeast and a bacteria called Lactobacillus, which creates a sourness that’ll have your mouth puckering. Lactobacillus makes it unique from other wheat beers.
This is a dark wheat beer which is brewed with Vienne or Munich malts. The malts contribute to the darker brown color, while the same type of yeast that’s used in hefeweizen is used here. So expect a dark rich tasting malt flavor along with notes of clove and banana. My favorite type of wheat beer.
Wheat Beer with Fruit
Because using wheat actually contributes little to the taste, brewers can add fruit for a layer of flavor. Raspberry is a popular choice due to the robust flavor it holds in the wheat beer, although many types of fruits have been used including cherries, blackberries, mango, apricots and more.
American Wheat Beer
Referred to as simply “wheat beer” by American brewers. The American version of wheat beer uses yeasts that do not create the clove and banana character nor a fruity or spicy flavor of a typical witbier. They can appear either clear or cloudy and have a more noticeable hop-character than most other wheat beers.
Here are a few wheat beers you can acquire at your local distributor and breweries near you:
Grist House Brewing Co.
Get Schwifty Wit It
Witbier (5.6% ABV). Tangerines dominate the aroma. Refreshing taste with lots of citrus flavors. Finishes crisp and clean.
Three Floyd’s Brewing Co.
American wheat beer (5.6% ABV). Clear appearance with a long-lasting white head. Aromas of lemon zest and pineapple. Flavors of honey and pineapple. Finishes with a lemon zest flavor.
Helicon Brewing Co.
American wheat beer with fruit (4.5% ABV). Beautiful red color with a pink head. Aromas of raspberries and lemon zest. A refreshing taste of raspberries with a tart finish.
Four Seasons Brewing Co.
Hefeweizen (5.2% ABV). Unfiltered with a light yellow color. Fruity aromas with tastes of clove and banana. Slight citrus notes with a fresh tasting finish.
Hofbrau Hefe Weisse Dunkel
Dunkelweizen (5.1 % ABV). Brown color and hazy with a big, creamy, off-white head. Notes of banana, clove, light caramel and roasted malts. Finishes with a roasty malt flavor.
Mark Brewer is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He’s the author and illustrator of “Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers.”