sub-categories: Weissbier (Weißbier)/Hefeweizen, Witbier, Dunkelweizen
ABV: 4.5% - 8%
key characteristics: Cloudy, smooth, refreshing
Best drunk fresh. Store cold. Serve cold
Wheat Beers are a Bavarian and Belgian institution. The separating factor between these types of beer and most other styles is the fact that either 50% or more of their malt bill comprises of wheat instead of barley. This gives the resulting beer a cloudy appearance and soft mouthfeel with notes of everything from banana, clove, bubble-gum and spice.
Traditionally these beers would only be available in their home countries but, thanks to the ability to share brewing knowledge and access to good ingredients, many UK breweries are trying their hand at various style of Wheat Beer. These beers are traditionally drunk in big beer halls, meaning they’re great for long sessions and summer drinking. Here’s a run-down of popular sub-categories of Wheat Beers…
When people think of wheat beer, they’re most likely referring to German Weissbier. These beers are smooth, creamy and cloudy with notes of banana, toffee and clove. They’re usually highly carbonated and should be poured with a nice foamy head to help release the aroma of the beer. Hefeweizen is the most common term applied to Weissbiers, and simply means “yeast wheat” as these beers are unfiltered, leaving some of the yeast in suspension – making the beer more active and giving it a slight spiced note. Hefeweizens are super approachable and flavourful beers. German-style Weissbier is some of the most drinkable and accessible beer around.
Hop over to Belgium and they do things a little differently. The Belgian Witbier has become a widely available style in spite of the fact it nearly died out. It was revived in the 1950s and has become popular around the world with the modern craft beer scene. Witbier translates to ‘white beer’ due to its pale, slightly cloudy appearance. They’re brewed with orange peel and coriander which gives them herbaceous and citrusy notes that cuts through the soft wheat base. Witbiers are ideal for summer drinking; they’re usually under 6% ABV and are incredibly thirst-quenching and flavourful.
Dunkelweizen is an old style that’s regaining some popularity with modern brewers. The easiest way to think about it is as a cross between a German Weissbier and a Dunkel – which is a style of dark Lager. Make no mistake, these beers are still technically ales, the ‘dunkel’ simply means ‘dark’ as the style is just a dark Wheat Beer. Imagine everything you get from a Hefeweizen – the banana, toffee, clove, bubble-gum notes – and combine it with a slight roasty and velvety character from the dark malt. The resulting beer can be a real treat and often makes for a moreish, flavourful drink.
Wheat beers are some of the more approachable beers in the modern craft beer world. They’re not hop dominant, and usually rely on good brewing technique and high-quality malts. The best way to enjoy a Weissbier at home is grab a stein or a tall vase-like glass and enjoy with some big pretzels – and Witbier tastes great alongside fresh seafood. These beers may be older, more traditional styles yet, sometimes the oldies truly are goldies. Prost!
Start your beer adventure and shop through our Wheat Beer range here
credit where credits due. the majority of content in this part of our website has been written for us by Dan Lyons; a talented beer writer, homebrewer and all round beer enthusiast.