Firstly, what is wheat beer? Wheat beer is made from a blend of wheat and barley, with wheat accounting for 30-70% of the total mixture. Typically, Wheat Extract Malt contains 40% wheat and 60% barley. Wheat has a higher protein content than barley, which helps create a long-lasting head but can also result in more haze. Wheat has a lighter color and milder flavor compared to barley, making it an excellent choice for a refreshing summer beer that can appeal to both craft beer enthusiasts and mainstream beer drinkers.
There are various styles of wheat beer that you can brew:
German Hefeweizens (derived from the German words Hefe = yeast and weizen = wheat) are typically brewed using special yeasts that produce phenols, imparting clove flavors, along with esters that generate bubble gum, banana, or vanilla flavors, especially when fermented at higher temperatures. Pale malt or pilsner malt is commonly used alongside wheat malt. Hefeweizens are lightly hopped, unfiltered, and usually have an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 4.5% to 5%. There are also two dark wheat beer styles from Germany: Dunkelweizen and Weizenbock. Dunkelweizens are similar to regular Hefeweizens, but they incorporate Munich, Vienna, and Cara-Munich malts instead of pale malts, resulting in darker colors. Weizenbocks are comparable to Dunkelweizens but have higher alcohol content ranging from 7% to 9%.
Belgian Witbiers (white beers) share similarities with German Hefeweizens. They use a distinct yeast strain that imparts a crisp and slightly tart flavor. Additionally, coriander and orange peel are added in the last 5-15 minutes of the boil, along with some flavor or aroma hops not typically used in German Hefeweizens. All-grain brewers usually incorporate white wheat to achieve an even lighter color.
American wheat beers are brewed using a neutral yeast strain that does not produce banana or clove flavors. There are also many variations that involve adding honey and/or fruit during fermentation, or incorporating fruit flavorings during bottling. Honey is highly fermentable and will contribute to a drier overall malt taste in the beer. As an alternative, you can steep a pound of honey malt (a specialty grain) before adding your wheat malt extracts to enhance the honey flavor in your wheat beer.
ACE 10BBL Beer Brewing Equipment
How to Make Wheat Beer
For extract brewers, it’s important to note that making wheat beers is no more difficult than brewing any other beer style. The basic process remains the same:
– Steep a bag of grains in hot water (around 160 degrees) for 20 minutes.
– Remove and discard the grain bags.
– Stir in your malt extracts.
– Turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
– Add bittering hops and boil for an hour.
– Optionally, add flavor and/or aroma hops towards the end of the boil, following your recipe.
– Cool the wort down and pitch the yeast.
Pick your preferred method! Here are some recipes for the different styles of wheat beer described above. Keep in mind that most liquid wheat yeasts are fairly vigorous and can create a thick krausen (foaming yeast) in your fermenter, so be mindful that your airlock doesn’t get clogged. You may want to use a blow-off tube as a preventive measure.
The main characteristics of wheat beer
Wheat beer possesses a unique and pure fragrance. The high content of esters, higher alcohols, and certain phenolic compounds contribute to its elegant aroma, resulting in fruity, floral, and clove notes.
Wheat beer has a high carbon dioxide content, ranging from 6g/L to 10g/L or 0.8% to 1.0%, providing a cool and refreshing sensation to the drinker.
It produces a rich, white, and delicate foam with excellent retention. The foam can last for more than 250 seconds.
As a low-alcohol and refreshing beverage, wheat beer quenches thirst better than other drinks.
Wheat beer stimulates the appetite and its taste encourages continuous drinking.
Drinking wheat beer aids digestion. The small amount of alcohol and carbon dioxide released in wheat beer accelerates the activity of digestive enzymes in the human body.
Wheat beer promotes sleep. The small amount of alcohol ingested has a short-term sedative effect. A moderate amount of beer does not cause fatigue, but rather relaxes and alleviates mental stress. If feeling fatigued, alcohol can help induce sleep.
Due to the presence of hops and potassium salts, wheat beer has diuretic properties.
Yeast in wheat beer contains valuable B vitamins (especially vitamins B1 and B2), making unfiltered yeast-rich beer more beneficial to health.