Wheat beers are common in today’s craft culture; they’re hazy, full of flavor and might even go well with an orange slice, but what makes them a wheat beer?
The Brewer’s Association has several different styles in this category, including American wheat, Berliner-style Weisse (tart wheat), South-German style hefeweizen, and several other wheat-heavy styles. Generally speaking, anything with more than 30% of it’s grain makeup as wheat can fall in this category.
Flavor profiles range from citrus to spicy; Wheat beers may be some of the most common pints you notice when walking in to your neighborhood pub.
Anything from 21st Amendments’s Hell or High Watermelon to Bell’s Oberon and the traditional German-style hefeweizens and dunkelweizens (meaning “dark wheat”) both create top notch wheat beers. (With our without an orange wedge is fine with us).
Blue Moon and Shock Top have done a great job nationally at bringing awareness and availability to the common brands, but both are owned by larger conglomerates and aren’t considered independent craft.
The haziness comes from both residual yeast, depending on the style, and the wheat itself, which causes a slight haziness in the final product.
Bitterness is generally lower in most of the traditional wheat beer style, although the recent trend of hazy pale ales are generally hop-forward and have a significant amount of wheat in the grain bill.
Other common wheat beers:
- Leinenkugel sunset wheat
- Schneiderweisse Original
- Dogfish Head SeaQuench Ale
- Harpoon Brewery UFO White
- Hofbrau Hefeweizen
- Alagash White
Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen offers a slight shandy-esque twist on a wheat beer, with added grapefruit soda for a summertime quencher.
Fruited sours may also fall into this category. Even if they have more than 30% wheat, being enamored with overwhelming fruit flavors can cause this style to be overlooked. A light, fruity wheat beer is all the rage now, especially if you make them look similar to a fruit smoothy! (But dang, they are full of flavor!)
With everyone throwing around the phrase “Wheat Beer,” Do you think you can be “That Guy” that tells everyone the difference now?