This style of beer was very popular during the Middle Ages, where wheat made up more than 50% of the grain in the recipe. Typically wheat malt is blended with pale malt, and the result is a foamy, dry-tasting beer, although the flavor is highly dependent on the strain of yeast used. The benefits of wheat beer during this time were diverse, since it served both as food and drink since most of the waters were contaminated.
Types of wheat beer:
Also called white beer, it comes from the Bavarian area in southern Germany and is a wheat beer. It was given that name because it is lighter than other ales in the region. This is the classic German wheat beer
Appearance: Beer with a straw-colored appearance, light in color, golden. With a large amount of foam and very durable.
Flavor: Low bitterness, sometimes with flavors of cloves, banana orange and vanilla.
Aroma: A slight aroma of hops with hints of citrus.
Alcohol: Between 4.3 – 5.6%
There are many types of wheat beers, most of them German, such as hefeweizen or kristallweizen. The best known of the wheat beers are Paulaner and Franziskaner. The area with the best wheat beers is the southern part of Germany, where the purity law is still in force, by which beer can only be made with three ingredients: water, malt and hops.
To make this beer, rye is used during maceration, which adds a strong cereal flavor. This technique was used in German beers.
Appearance: Light and dark gold. It is somewhat cloudy and with orange or red tones. Dense foam.
Taste: It has a marked cereal flavor similar to that of rye bread.
Aroma: Light spaced aroma of rye with notes of clove and banana that appear during fermentation.
Alcohol: Between 4.5 – 6%
Bottom-fermenting wheat yeasts are what give rye beer complex flavors of banana and clove. Those that come from America are stronger and hoppier, their hop flavors are complemented by other spaced flavors, and a neutral yeast character.
Very complex wheat beer made popular by Hoegaarden. They are spiced with orange and coriander seeds.
Appearance: Very light straw in color, it is served cloudy with a large, dense and long-lasting foam.
Taste: Very refreshing, acid and spaced, with orange characters and little bitterness.
Aroma: Floral hops and coriander are used to give a subtle aroma.
Alcohol: Between 4.5 – 5.5%
Most are Belgian wheat beers to which coriander, orange and other spices are added.
Dark wheat beer:
Made with roasted malts, they give a complex character to this very dark colored beer.
Appearance: Its color ranges from amber to dark brown with a very durable whitish foam. It is served cloudy and well carbonated.
Flavor: Sweet caramel flavors from roasted malts dominate, with some hints of clove and banana added.
Aroma: Clove and banana aromas with some hops.
Alcohol: Between 4.3 – 5.6%
Banana and clove notes with noble hops predominate in the German-style dark wheat beer. In the Americans the flavor is stronger, subtle malt flavors appear that are complemented by citrus hops and a neutral yeast flavor.
Characteristics of wheat beer:
The yeasts used to make wheat beer are top fermenters, which means that a lot of foam is produced during fermentation as the yeast rises to the top of the wort. With these high fermentation temperatures, a large amount of esters and other compounds are released that give the beer very unique complex flavors, since in other styles of beers they are considered defects. Flavors such as cloves, hot spices, and banana can be found, making wheat beers special and exquisite. In some, spices or even orange peel are added, such as Belgian Hoegaarden beer. If you want to know more about top and bottom fermentation visit our section on yeast in beer.
Wheat beer is a cloudy beer:
This is a unique style obtained with different fermentation techniques than barley malts. They usually have a large amount of carbon dioxide, so they are served in a very cold bottle, so that when served, the yeast sediment is removed, resulting in a cloudy beer.
They are easy to make at home and a lot of fun due to the many styles that can be made by adding spices. In addition, the high temperatures and the short period of conditioning time make them ideal for quick preparations.
There are many brands of wheat beer and all its styles are made, but the most common to find is the Weissbier.