Style Details

Ger­man Wheat Beer
BJCP Style Code
10 A
Pale straw to gold in color. A very thick, moussy, long-las­ting white head is cha­rac­te­ristic. The high pro­te­in con­tent of wheat impairs cla­ri­ty in an unfil­te­red beer, alt­hough the level of haze is some­what variable. 
Mode­ra­te to strong phe­nols (usual­ly clove) and frui­ty esters (typi­cal­ly bana­na). The balan­ce and inten­si­ty of the phe­nol and ester com­pon­ents can vary but the best examp­les are reason­ab­ly balan­ced and fair­ly pro­mi­nent. The hop cha­rac­ter ran­ges from low to none. A light to mode­ra­te wheat aro­ma (which might be per­cei­ved as brea­dy or grai­ny) may be pre­sent but other malt cha­rac­te­ristics should not. Optio­nal, but accep­ta­ble, aro­ma­tics can include a light to mode­ra­te vanil­la cha­rac­ter, and/or a faint bubble­gum aro­ma. None of the­se optio­nal cha­rac­te­ristics should be high or domi­nant, but often can add to the com­ple­xi­ty and balance.
Low to modera­te­ly strong bana­na and clove fla­vor. The balan­ce and inten­si­ty of the phe­nol and ester com­pon­ents can vary but the best examp­les are reason­ab­ly balan­ced and fair­ly pro­mi­nent. Optio­nal­ly, a very light to mode­ra­te vanil­la cha­rac­ter and/or faint bubble­gum notes can accen­tua­te the bana­na fla­vor, sweet­ness and round­ness; neither should be domi­nant if pre­sent. The soft, some­what brea­dy or grai­ny fla­vor of wheat is com­ple­men­ta­ry, as is a slight­ly grai­ny-sweet malt cha­rac­ter. Hop fla­vor is very low to none, and hop bit­ter­ness is very low to modera­te­ly low. Well-roun­ded, fla­vorful pala­te with a rela­tively dry finish. The per­cep­ti­on of sweet­ness is more due to the absence of hop bit­ter­ness than actu­al resi­du­al sweet­ness; a sweet or hea­vy finish would signi­fi­cant­ly impair drinkability.
Medi­um-light to medi­um body; never hea­vy. Sus­pen­ded yeast may increase the per­cep­ti­on of body. The tex­tu­re of wheat imparts the sen­sa­ti­on of a fluffy, cre­a­my full­ness that may pro­gress to a light, sprit­zy finish aided by high to very high car­bo­na­ti­on. Always effervescent.
Over­all Impression
A pale, refres­hing Ger­man wheat beer with high car­bo­na­ti­on, dry finish, a fluffy mouth­feel, and a distinc­ti­ve bana­na-and-clove yeast character.
Typi­cal Ingredients
By Ger­man bre­wing tra­di­ti­on, at least 50% of the grist must be mal­ted wheat, alt­hough some ver­si­ons use up to 70%; the rema­in­der is typi­cal­ly Pils­ner malt. A decoc­tion mash is tra­di­tio­nal, alt­hough modern bre­wers typi­cal­ly don’t fol­low this prac­ti­ce. Wei­zen ale yeast pro­du­ces the typi­cal spi­cy and frui­ty cha­rac­ter, alt­hough high fer­men­ta­ti­on tem­pe­ra­tures can affect the balan­ce and pro­du­ce off-flavors. 
While Bava­ria has a wheat beer tra­di­ti­on dating back hundreds of years, bre­wing wheat beer used to be a mono­po­ly reser­ved for Bava­ri­an royal­ty. Modern weiss­bier dates from 1872 when Schnei­der began pro­duc­tion. Howe­ver, pale weiss­bier only beca­me popu­lar sin­ce the 1960s. It is quite popu­lar today, par­ti­cu­lar­ly in sou­thern Germany.
The­se are refres­hing, fast-matu­ring beers that are light­ly hop­ped and show a uni­que bana­na-and-clove yeast cha­rac­ter. The­se beers often don’t age well and are best enjoy­ed while young and fresh. The ver­si­on mit hefe is ser­ved with sus­pen­ded yeast; the krys­tal ver­si­on is fil­te­red for excel­lent cla­ri­ty. The cha­rac­ter of a krys­tal wei­zen is gene­ral­ly frui­tier and less phe­n­o­lic than that of the weiss­bier mit hefe. May be known as hefe­wei­zen, par­ti­cu­lar­ly in the United States. 
Com­mer­cial Examples
Ayin­ger Bräu Weis­se, Hacker-Pschorr Weis­se, Pau­la­ner Hefe-Wei­zen Natur­trüb, Schnei­der Weis­se Unser Ori­gi­nal, Wei­hen­ste­pha­ner Hefeweissbier
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.044 - 1.052 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.010 - 1.014 SG
2 - 6 SRM
4.0 - 5.0 %vol
8 - 15 IBU