Wheat beers: The Beer Heroes’ guide to German Beer
Friday, February 7th, 2014
Weizenbier and Weissbier
Weizenbier and Weissbier are the standard German names given to this category of beer, all ales, made using malted wheat. In German – “weizen” means “wheat”, and “weiss” means “white”.
Weissbier is generally associated with the south of Germany. These beers were originally brewed in Bavaria and through a dramatic and rather fortuitous turn of events were preserved through history despite the Beer Purity Law against them.
Light to medium bodied, wheat beers are lightly hopped, yeasty and slightly sour with characteristic clove and banana aromas. They’re generally very effervescent and sometimes cloudy due to the unique yeast strains and the wheat proteins. Their sweetness and body make them great summer brews.
Within the category variations of style do occur, such as Berliner Weisse and Hefeweizen.
This is a version of the weizen, but unfiltered and conditioned in the bottle or keg. ‘Hefe’ is German for yeast, and there will generally be some yeast sediment.
Kristallweizen is a filtered Hefeweizen
This beer may only be brewed in Berlin. Its tart, sour (but not bitter) taste, a very pale appearance and an effervescence have earned it the moniker “Champagne of beers.” Add to this a light, dry body and a large foamy white head and you have a very distinctive beer. Anywhere up to 75% malted wheat is used and results in a characteristic foamy head, which tends to die quickly due to a lack of protein structure. Berliner Weisse is often served with a sweet syrup, typically raspberry- or woodruff-flavoured, to complement its dry fizziness.
This beer is one of the few named after two towns! Originally brewed in the town of Goslar the beer became very popular in the nearby town of Leipzig. At one stage in history it almost became extinct but has been recently been enjoying a revival.
This is also an unusual beer in that its ingredients include coriander, salt and sometimes oats. The result of these additions is an amber, very sour wheat beer that strangely does not taste salty.
What’s your pick of the South African Weissbier category? Share your thoughts below or tweet us at @MyBeerSA!