Craft beers: Review and guides Guide to craft beers

Wheat beer

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Written by EFW Staff

Wheat beer, German heart

In Germany and in particular in Bavaria, there is one of the most famous beer is Weissbier. The word that means white beer, states a particular type of beer, produced starting from the fermentation of the barley together with the malted beer, or grain. According to the place, Weiss is also called Weizen, which means wheat beer. Weissbier is clear (event if there are dark varieties), light and thirst-quenching. In Bavaria, it is paired with a typical bread bretzel for a delight couple. As it happens for the barley beers, also wheat beers offer different shades to pair different dishes and satisfy the most demanding palates. The different types of aromas derive from the fact that wheat beer is a high fermented beer, through the fermentation at high temperatures of the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae (around 20 degrees) .
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A name, lots of varieties

As we told, white beer can have different varieties and tastes, usually because the fermentation a high temperature, between 15° and 20°, give origin to fruity tastes. Despite the high fermentation, the alcoholic volume of this beer is pretty low, between 5-6%. This low quantity of alcohol allow to enhance the taste of the different types of beer, that can be more or less filtered, the colour is transparent, clear, tending to amber.

According to the characteristics and the way of preparation we talk of Kristallweizen(clear), Hefeweizen (cloudy and non filtered), Dunkelweizen (amber and alcoholic) eWeizenbock (with strong taste and high alcoholic volume). The German tradition wants that all these beers have to be tapped and served with dedicated glasses, usually with a long shape.

Historical hints of wheat beer

The history of beer is strictly connected with the history of the princes of Bavaria that starting from ‘400 issued diverse laws to define the characteristics and the process of production of the different types of beer. The birth of the Weizen can be dated back to a low issued by William IV Duke of Bavaria in 1516 called German Beer Purity Law that defined the laws on the production, on the hygienic-sanitary laws and the selling of the beer. This law allowed the use of barley, hop, water and yeast for the production of beer. Then, it was modified with the introduction of malted barley and malted wheat, in fact this law authorized the use of wheat for the production of beer.

Nevertheless, the first white beer was different from what we drink today, above all because the yeast for the fermentation wasn’t used in the right way, as they hadn’t been discovered yet.
White beer had such a great success that the Duke Massimo I of Baviera was an exclusive of the ducal house, forbidding the production of the private breweries.
To spread this taste in all the cities of the dukedom, a dedicated way was built: the Bierstrasse. The birth of new recipes like lager and pilsner, changed the monopoly of the white beer and the ducal production. Today the Weissbier is still well appreciated and demanded, above all in Bavaria.

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EFW Staff