Wheat Beers – A Summer Treat


You might think of the popularized mass produced Blue Moon here in the United States when you think of wheat beers. I think of craft Belgian Wit beers on the beach toward the end of a hot day in the sun. Wheat beer is crafted to have a pale often unfiltered golden color using a high amount of wheat relative to traditional brews. Wheat beers by definition are in violation of the traditional German Purity law Reinheitsgebot. As demand for varied quality craft beers increases, a higher portion of new craft brews fail to adhere to Reinheitsgebot than ever before.


There are many styles of wheat beer that you can make(Here are a choice few):

German Hefeweizens (from the German words Hefe = yeast and weizen = wheat) are typically brewed with special yeasts whose phenols produce clove flavors, along with esters that produce bubble gum, banana, or vanilla flavors especially at warmer fermentation temperatures. Pale malt or pilsner malt is typically used with the wheat malt. They are also lightly hopped and unfiltered and average 4.5% to 5% ABV. There are also two German dark wheat styles: Dunkelweizen and Weizenbock. Dunkelweizens are similar to the regular hefeweizens except they use Munich, Vienna, and Cara-Munich malts in place of some of the pale malts and have darker colors. Weizenbocks are similar to Dunkelweizens but have higher alcohol levels in the 7-9% range.


Belgian Witbiers (white beers) are similar to the German Hefeweizen style.  They use a special yeast that ferments crisp with a little tartness to it. They also add coriander and orange peel in the last 5-15 minutes of the boil as well as some flavor or aroma hops not used in the German Hefeweizens. All-grain brewers will usually use white wheat to give an even lighter color.


American wheat beers use a neutral yeast that doesn’t give the banana or clove flavors.  There are also many variations that include honey and/or fruit added to the end of the boil and then fermented, or fruit can flavoring added at bottling time. Honey is nearly 100% fermentable and will dry the overall malt taste of your beer. You can instead steep a pound of honey malt(a specialty grain) prior to adding your wheat malt extracts to provide more honey flavor to your wheat beer.
Over summer when I do my brewing series we will brew wheat IPA. Follow me on Twitter for updates @Tanner_Brews

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