The art of classifying a wheat beer is a highly debated task. However, after countless pints of consumption, I have developed a model to characterize the sophisticated flavor, aroma, and body of wheat beers, which can be much more complex than their barley-based peers.
First, I show the hierarchy of wheat beer classification below.
Each wheat beer can be classified by these distinctions with some of the categories being defined below.
- American – Brewed with a more neutral yeast that brings out the malt taste more compared with the taste of hops. Lacks the aromas of fruit and bread, but carries a bitterness resembling typical American ales.
- Belgium – Brewed with raw unmalted wheat and utilizes the flavoring of orange peel and coriander. Taste more fruity and tends to be slightly more sour than the other counter-parts.
- German – Brewed with weizen yeast, and usually unfiltered. The taste has little bitterness and tends to be more mellow-tasting. The aroma rouses scents from oranges, cinnamon, and bananas.
- Dunkel / Dark-weizen – Use darker malts with a fuller malt flavor.
- Flavored Wheat Ale – Contains more fruit and honey to develop a new hybrid style of beer.
- Hefeweizen – Highly carbonated that use a stronger percentage of wheat. Usually contain yeast sediment with a small role of hops.
- Kristall-weizen – Non-hazy ale with filtering to remove protein haze and yeast. Flavor is cleaner, more delicate, while less spicy and complex.
- Weizen-bock – Winter wheat beers with a pale gold to brown coloring that contain higher levels of alcohol. Contain rocky head when poured and are rich with malts and crispness.
- Wheat Ale – Brewed with a large proportion of wheat malt which adds a protein haze.
- White/wit Beer – Use unmalted wheat with other flavors such as oranges and curacao. Appearance is hazy white with sedimentation.
*Source: Wheat Beer Styles
- Bitterness (IBU)
Next, the experience of consuming these delicious beverages deserve a run down of how we rate wheat beers. Is there another classification section that you think is worthy of a mention? If so, please comment and leave your thoughts.