Buyer's Guide for Beer Lovers

December 8th, 2011
h2. Hefeweizen Weizen bier is a top-fermenting beer style that originates from southern Germany, particularly Bavaria, and is brewed with at least 50% wheat in the mash. Hefeweizens are refreshing, highly carbonated beers ideal for quenching summer thirsts. They undergo secondary fermentation, often in the bottle, and the yeast strains used for this purpose impart a spicy, clove-like flavor. Hefe (the German word for yeast) on the label denotes that the bottle contains yeast sediment. Alcohol content is typically 5-5.5% ABV, giving these beers a medium-full body. Hop flavors play a very insignificant role in the flavor profile. The best examples to be found are still authentic Bavarian imports, although some good domestic examples are produced and are often available as a draft option. h2. Kristall Weizen A kristall weizen is a non-hazy weizen ale. Kristall on the label of a weizen specifically denotes that a weizen has been filtered prior to bottling to remove the protein haze and yeast often suspended in such beers. Kristall weizens lack the yeasty and spicy complexity often associated with hefeweizen beers, and have a cleaner and more delicate flavor. Floral, fruity aromas are often noted in classic examples of this style, though healthy alcohol content of 5-5.5% will give a medium to medium-full bodied character. h2. Dunkel/Dark Weizen These dark wheat beers derive their character from the use of darker malts in the non-wheat ingredients, so that a richer, darker-colored beer can be achieved, along with fuller malt flavors. Dunkel weizens are produced with or without a secondary fermentation in the bottle, with the corollary that these styles can be yeast sedimented or unsedimented depending upon the preference of the brewer. h2. Weizen Bock Weizen bocks are essentially winter wheat beers, originally brewed in Bavaria. The color can be pale gold to brown. They are of higher alcohol strength, as high as 7% ABV, showing a warming personality, though they should still have a significant rocky head when poured. These beers combine the character of hefeweizens and dopplebocks and as such are rich and malty with estery, yeasty qualities, and show a note of wheaty crispness through the finish. h2. Wheat Ale As the name would suggest, these are ales that use a proportion of wheat in the mash to add protein haze. Wheat ales inspired by the German weizen tradition were popular before Prohibition in the United States and are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. This generic category encapsulates the diverse interpretation of the classic German weizen styles brewed in America and elsewhere. A host of variables ranging from the wheat/malt ratio, hopping and filtration/non-filtration all contribute to wide variations on the theme. Generally, U.S. examples feature a more marked hop accent than classic German weizen styles and are often dryer. h2. White/Wit Beer Wit beer is a style of flavored wheat. It is distinctly Belgian in origin and is still very closely associated with this lowland country. Wits employ a proportion of unmalted wheat in the mash, but also have flavor added in the form of Curacao orange peel and coriander, among other ingredients. Their appearance is marked by a hazy white precipitate and these beers generally have some sedimentation. Typically, these are very refreshing summer thirst quenchers. Their popularity in the United States is growing, with some notable examples to be found. h2. Flavored Wheat Ales Turning wheat beer into a cocktail has precedent in Europe, where alcoholic cordials or fruit syrups can be used to help beer slide down more easily. Flavored wheat ales are an increasingly popular specialty category, covering a number of flavoring options that brewers have adopted, particularly in the United States, the home of throw-the-rule-book-away hybrid beer styles. The two most significant additives are fruit and honey, usually employed separately. Raspberry is a common choice of fruit to flavor these styles and the best examples have faithful fruit essence and avoid any sweet cloying character. Honey can add richness to the palate and give a hint of sweetness. Herbs and spices are also encountered, but the possibilities are endless. Chocolate dunkel raspberry anyone? Wulff, Chad. “Buyer’s Guide for Beer Lovers.” All About Beer Magazine, November 2008: 55-57