Wheat Beer is a beer that is brewed using wheat as one of its primary fermentation ingredients in the mash. Usually a wheat beer will contain any where from 30% to 70% wheat malt. Malted barley will then be used to fill the remaining percentage like most other styles of beer. Due to a high amount of proteins present in the beer from the wheat most will have a cloudy appearance, as opposed to the clear look of a Pilsner for example. Wheat beers also tend to be more carbonated and very effervescent as a byproduct of fermenting the wheat. There is also a distinct absence of hops in a Wheat Beer because traditional recipes call for very little to none what so ever.
There are a variety of different wheat beers styles. The most well known style is Hefeweizen, also known more geographically descriptive as Southern German Weissbier. Unfiltered Hefeweizen is bottled and served so the yeast used during fermentation is still present, which provides much of the beers flavor and aroma. Berliner Weisse, comes from brewers in northern Germany which use a different technique than their southern counterparts. Berliner Weisse is fermented with ale yeast and a bacteria (Lactobacillus delbruckii) which, can create a very distinct and unique sourness to the beer. Otherwise this Berliner Weisse is light in character and very effervescent as a typical Hefeweizen is. Belgian Witbier also known as White Ale is similar in many ways to unfiltered wheat beers but the addition of unmalted grains like oats, wheat and barley as well as a variety of different spices, make they very unique from the other styles of wheat beer. American Wheat Beer is the American craft brewers’ interpretation on wheat beer. This style takes the classic Hefeweizen recipes and replaces the distinctive yeast with much cleaner fermenting ale yeasts. American wheat beers also may be filtered giving them a clear appearance and a mellow flavor.