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Weizenbier – German Wheat Beer

A Paulaner German Wheat Beer from Bavaria

A typical Bavarian scene: Paulaner wheat beer with a wheat beer glass on a sunny day

In Germany, especially in Bavaria, wheat beer is very popular. While in most of Germany wheat beer is called “Weizenbier” or simply “Weizen“, the typical name in Austria, Bavaria and some other parts of Germany is “Weißbier”. It is usually served in high glasses of a special form, and typically enjoyed throughout the summertime. Think of the typical Bavarian Biergarten setting with a Weisswurst, a Soft Pretzel some Obatzda cheese spread and a glass of best Bavarian wheat beer! Learn more on German wheat beer and its history…

The history of German Wheat Beer!

The history of German wheat beer is actually strongly linked to Bavaria, and in particular to financial tax issues.

Reaching back to 1548, wheat beer was only allowed to be brewed north of the Danube river, as wheat itself was forbidden as an ingredient due to the Purity Law. Wheat was expensive and essential in feeding the population. The privilege lay with Baron von Degenberg, who had to pay money to the Bavarian Duke. After there was no male offspring, the privilege went back to the Bavarian Duke. Wheat beer thereafter became an important source of income for the Bavarian state as well as the duke’s personal finances. The monopole remained with the Bavarian state for a very long time. Wheat beer had to be served throughout Bavaria. This monopole was diminished in 1798. The Hofbräuhaus in Munich remained property of the Bavarian state, and still is to this very day. It is an attraction for many tourists visiting the Bavarian capital with its unique beer culture. Wheat beer is still very popular in Bavaria and all other regions of Germany. Non alcoholic wheat beer has been successfully brought to the market and is favored by many sport enthusiasts as an isotonic and healthy beverage. But what is wheat beer in essence and what is the difference to other German beers?

What is wheat beer – and how is it brewed?

By, the way, non alcoholic wheat beer is getting very popular in Germany. It is isotonic and actually healthy as a fitness drink according to several studies.

Wheat beer is brewed top-fermented, meaning that the brewing temperature is higher than that of the bottom-fermented brewing process (i.e. used to produce Pilsner style beer). Top-fermented yeast will gather on the beer liquids surface during the brewing process, and does not require costly cooling.
For brewing wheat beer, barley and wheat malt is used. The original gravity is usually within a range around 12.5 %, resulting in an alcohol content of 5 – 6 % for the beer. Of course, this only applies to ordinary German wheat beer types, for there are other ones with a considerably higher amount of original gravity and thus alcohol content. Bottle fermentation is used during the brewing process, meaning that there will eventually be quite some residue in the beer bottles.
Wheat beer is normally of a cloudy color with residue on the bottom of the bottle. This yeast is responsible for the heavy foaming which occurs when wheat beer is poured into a glass. Therefore, a special glass for German wheat beer was developed in order to keep the overflowing beer crest as small as possible, and to allow the carbon dioxide to keep the wheat beer fresh on its journey from the glass’ bottom to the top.

Typical German wheat beer types

Serveral German Wheat Beer Brands from Bavaria

Germany, and especially Bavaria, has many interesting wheat beer brands to offer. Paulaner and Erdinger are are well known wheat bear brands – but have you ever tasted Weihenstephaner?! It’s worth a try!

  • Hefeweizen (unfiltered wheat beer / sediment)
  • Kristallweizen (filtered wheat beer / no sediment)
  • Eisweizenbier (ice wheat beer / strong beer / less bitter / more alcohol content)
  • Alkoholfreies Weizenbier (non alcoholic wheat beer)
  • Russ / Weizenradler (mixed wheat beer with lemonade, coke etc.)

 

German wheat beer is normally associated with a bright color, however there are also dark wheat beers in Germany. They are brewed with a different type of malt, and in most cases have a higher alcohol content. Due to the large variety of malt styles, a wide range of wheat beer colors is feasible.
Most famous German wheat beers come from Bavaria, such as Paulaner, Erdinger or Hacker-Pschorr. The internationally well-known Schofferhofer / Schöfferhofer wheat beer is, by the way, not Bavarian at all – it is brewed by the Binding brewery in Frankfurt am Main. Find out more about German wheat beer styles and types. We are continuously testing new beers for you and are publishing articles on them.

Did you know that wheat beer can taste like banana? This is owed to the isoamyl acetate, produced by the yeast during the brewing process.

10 Facts on German Wheat Beer

Wheat Beer from Germany is poured into a typical Wheat Beer glass.

Pouring wheat beer into a glass without any overflow is quite difficult. But there is a special technique which we will show you.

  1. German wheat beer is brewed top-fermented and a beer best enjoyed in the summertime
  2. There are dark and pale German wheat beers – the color depends on the malt used.
  3. Bottle fermentation is used to produce German wheat beer, therefore residue on the bottom is normal and does not result from a lack of quality.
  4. Usually, there is lots of yeast left within the “Weizenbier” bottle, however, for “Kristallweizen” (crystal wheat beer) the yeast and other brewing residue is filtered, generating a very clear, pale wheat beer.
  5. The German wheat beer glass was especially designed to allow the carbon dioxide bubbles to travel a long distance to the top, keeping the beer fresh.
  6. There are several tricks in order to prevent the wheat beer froth from overflowing when pouring it into a glass.
  7. Wheat beer bottles are best stored standing upright, otherwise the yeast will have more surface to deposit, making it more difficult to pour it into a glass without overflowing white crest.
  8. A scent of banana taste is typical for German wheat beer.
  9. Berliner Weisse beer, although brewed top-fermented with barley and wheat malt, is not to be mistaken as a “Hefeweizen“, the same applies to Gose beer, originating from Goslar in the Harz mountain region – both taste very different than a Bavarian wheat beer.
  10. Not just in Bavaria German wheat beer is served as a mixed beer (Mischbiergetränke) with other beverages such as lemonade, coke or even cherry juice (Russ, Weizenradler, Kirschweizen etc.).

 

German Beer – Overview

German Hefeweizen Beer Reviews!

Maisel’s Light
Check out the the alcohol-reduced Maisel’s Weisse Light beer!
Maisel’s Weisse
Read our review on the famous Maisel’s Weisse Original Hefeweizen beer!
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