Home Services Brew Reviews Brew School Brewery Profiles Links Jump to Blog Contact

Wheat Beers

Wheat beers…tart, refreshing, the perfect beers of summer. As one of mankind’s oldest cultivated grains, it is almost certain that earliest beers contained wheat. In modern times this ancient grain has spawned diverse brewing traditions and distinct beer styles that are particular to different regions of the globe. In Belgium there is the ultra-light citrus and spice of the Witbier. Southern Germany has the full-bodied, cloudy, banana and clove tinged Hefeweizen, When pouring a Hefeweizen, be sure to swirl the bottle to raise the yeast off the bottom. In Berlin, brewers conjured the spritzy and slightly sour Berliner Weisse, consumed in cafes with a shot of raspberry or woodruff syrup. And in the United States there is the cleaner and more assertively hopped American Wheat and the high-alcohol Wheat Wine. And while we’re here, let’s not forget wheat beer’s cousin, the equally refreshing and slightly spicy rye beer. Cloudy or clear, with fruit or straight, you really can’t go wrong with the unique flavors of a wheat beer.

Enough talk, let’s taste some beer

  New Glarus Crack'd Wheat  
Crack'd Wheat
New Glarus Brewing Co.
New Glarus, Wisconsin
Style: Wheat Beer

Aroma: Beautiful banana, clove, and bubblegum of a German Hefeweizen. Thick bready malt. Light citrusy hops, but in the background. Beautiful. I could sit all day with my nose in this beer.
Appearance: Thick and creamy white head that lasts and lasts. Golden colored and lightly cloudy.
Flavor: Now the Amarillo hops come through. Medium-high bitterness, high for a German style wheat beer, which this is not. Fresh grapefruit pith hop flavor rests atop a fluffy bed of rich, bready wheat malt. Lemony fruitiness melds with cinnamon, bubblegum, and powdered sugar. Finishes with a sharp peppery bite and lingering sweet bubblegum and bread dough.
Mouthfeel: Rich and creamy. A mouth-filling full body in a light and refreshing beer. Zippy carbonation tempers the richness.
Overall Impression: A great session beer for sitting on the patio on a summer evening. Everything that I love about German Hefeweizen combined with the American love of bitterness and hops. But the hops don’t overpower, they combine with everything else in a beautiful cross-cultural collaboration. This would go with many foods. Try it with light grilled fish or shellfish. It could also stand up to more assertive sausages and cured meats.

  Struise Witte  
Struise Witte
De Struise Brouwers
De Panne, Belgium
Style: Belgian Witbier

Aroma: Tart lemon and orange citrus fruitiness that I could smell as soon as the bottle was uncapped. Some sourness with hay and horse blanket funk.  Background of wheaty malt and flowery coriander spice. As it warmed, syrupy canned peach aromas developed. Light cardboard oxidation.
Appearance: Pours with a huge mousse-like head that lasts a long time and leaves copious delicate lacing on glass. Light golden color with slight haze.
Flavor: The flavor is dominated by acidic sourness and horse blanket funk. The syrupy fruit of the aroma carries over into flavor mixed with lemon citrus, green apple, and white wine. Light bready wheat character lurks around in the background as well, becoming more pronounced as the beer warms. Hints of dish soap. Finish is dry and quick.
Mouthfeel: Light body. Effervescent carbonation.
Overall Impression: More like a light Lambic or Berliner Weisse than a typical Belgian Witbier, the wild funky and sour character overpowered the citrus and wheat in this example. While it is tasty, there are other Witbiers and other sour beers that I would recommend over it. This would go equally well with tossed greens in white wine vinaigrette or a moldy blue cheese.

  21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat  
Hell or High Watermelon Wheat
21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco, California
Style: American Wheat with Fruit

Aroma: Grainy wheaty malt, like saltine crackers. Light brown sugar sweetness with faint whiffs of cinnamon and apple. Watermelon character grows as it warms. Reminds me of a baking fruit pie.
Appearance: Light gold and hazy. Small white head with mixed bubbles that died quickly leaving lacey gauze of foam on surface.
Flavor: Soft grainy malt that explodes into a tart watermelon and sour citrus celebration. Pleasantly high acidity. Lemon heads. Continued supporting undercurrent of saltine cracker wheat with brown sugar notes as the beer warms. Moderately high bitterness. Finishes quick and dry, lingering on tart lemony/watermelon.  
Mouthfeel: Medium body with a stinging crispness. Effervescent.
Overall Impression: A most interesting beer with unexpected complexity. I was impressed by the distinct saltine cracker malt character. It worked quite well to support the stronger than anticipated watermelon. The character of the beer developed dramatically from start to finish, starting crisp and tart and ending up like comforting watermelon apple pie. Very refreshing. Great for a hot summer day.

  Calabaza Blanca  
Calabaza Blanca
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Dexter, Michigan
Style: Oak Aged Belgian Wit

Aroma: Grainy bready malt with slight pilsner-like sulfur. Brettanomyces sourness and wet leather. Notes of banana, bubblegum and orange.
Appearance: Light golden and clear. Persistent fluffy white head. Belgian lace on the glass.
Flavor: A pronounced grainy, wheaty malt at the beginning blends with a tart citrusy fruit mid-palate. Orange with hints of flowers and spice. Sour acetic tartness comes in toward the end that enhances the citrus fruit. Slight sour bite at the back of the tongue on swallowing. Dry finish that fades back to bready malt.
Mouthfeel: Light body with a slight creaminess from wheat. Medium carbonation.
Overall Impression: A light and refreshingly tart white ale that has just enough wild yeast character to make it interesting. Nice interplay of grainy malt, tart citrus, and funky sour and leather.

  © 2008 A Perfect Pint. All rights reserved. | Web design by Heitman Design.