Wheat Beer — the American version of Witbier — is one of the most approachable styles in craft. The versatility of wheat complements practically every ingredient. When brewed into beer without any other additives, wheat creates a crisp, clean character, lighter than in brews made exclusively with barley. This makes it an excellent choice for pairing with many types of food, particularly fruits like raspberries and watermelon, and even savory dishes like beer can chicken.
The American Wheat Beer is widely considered one of the most refreshing styles and has historically been a favorite beverage during warm weather. But, if you look around your local grocery store or even specialty bottleshops, you won’t likely find many Wheat Beer options.
Where did all the Wheat Beer go?
Boulevard ambassador brewer Jeremy Danner told AllAboutBeer.com, “[if it’s] not an exciting or extreme, crazy beer, it suffers in reviews.” So, it’s no wonder the simple Wheat Beer style is no longer trendy. However, breweries seem to use the flakey ingredient more commonly in craft beer today than ever before — it’s just found a new home in other styles.
Breweries like Weldwerks and Toppling Goliath use flaked wheat to create a thick body and pillowy mouthfeel in their Hazy IPAs and Pale Ales, including the famous Juicy Bits and Pseudo Sue.
Off Color and Mobcraft use wheat in their Sour Ales like Yuzu Fierce Berliner Weisse and Gose Pack Gose. These styles are traditionally brewed from five parts wheat to one part barley. This is to deliberately create a clean base, ideal for incorporating sourness — either by a secondary fermentation in the bottle or by adding Lactobacillus — a lactic acid bacteria.
The Wheat Beer’s German, unfiltered cousin, the Hefeweizen, with its refreshing flavors of banana and clove, has withstood the popularity test of time better than the American Wheat. You can still easily track down a Hefe at most German or European-style pubs around the world. One Tavour member favorite is Urban Chestnut’s Schnickelfritz.
So, if beer fans struggle to find a ‘Wheat Beer,’ remember — it’s no longer easy to find one by that name. Though, if it’s the chuggable, multifaceted wheat character you crave, just look at the ingredients on brewery websites. Wheat is now a part of so many beer styles; you’re likely drinking a ‘Wheat Beer’ more often than you realize!