6 Wheat Beers to Whet Your Palate
With long days at the beach and outdoor entertaining ushering in summer, now is the time to stock up on refreshing styles of beer, like light lagers, pale ales and easy-drinking IPAs. But perhaps the most iconic style for the season is wheat beer. This light-bodied, yet oh-so-satisfying glass of gold is sure to quench your thirst while simultaneously offering complexity and depth of flavor.
Belgian wheat beers (a k a witbier, witte, wit, white) and German weizens (a k a weissbier, weiss) are some of the most balanced and refreshing beers. They’re especially welcome during the summer months, when their assertive carbonation, crisp citrus notes and delicate spice aromas provide a counterbalance to warm weather.
Wheat beers have become increasingly popular in the U.S., and many domestic brewers release summer seasonals made in that style. Normally pale to golden in color, with a substantial head, citrus-dominant wheat flavors and brisk carbonation, American versions often take traditional European styles and add their own twists: a unique spice, an unusual hop, a special brewing technique.
Because many wheat beers are bottle conditioned, it’s common to find some sediment at the bottom of the bottle. For a proper pour, empty half of the beer into a glass and then swirl the remaining liquid in the bottle before emptying the remains.
This way, any of the delicious yeast sediment that might have settled to the bottom of the bottle can be fully enjoyed.
As for the lemon wedge that frequently accompanies these brews, it’s completely a personal choice: some people find it livens up the intense wheat profile, while other purists believe it overwhelms the beer’s natural flavors. Either way, enjoy your favorites while summer lasts—they’re perfect partners for light fare, like salads, grilled chicken or fish.
(Dunkelweizen; Brauhaus Faust, Germany). Don’t let the color fool you—this brown beauty may look bold and powerful, but it’s remarkably smooth and approachable. Attractive aromas and flavors of caramel malt, toasted wheat, peanut shells, brown banana, clove and a touch of cocoa fill the nose and medium-weight mouth. Although there’s a lot going on, it’s all harmonious and well-balanced, with medium carbonation and a lightly dry, toasted-grain finish. This will pair remarkably well with hard cheeses, like cheddar or aged Gouda, as well as barbecue chicken and burgers. Iron Horse Beverage.
abv: 5.2% Price: $4/500 ml
(Witbier; Brasserie Belgh Brasse, Canada). This Canadian wit is brewed with Styrian Golding and Hallertau Hersbrücker hops, as well as the typical coriander and orange zest, which really shine on the bouquet. Medium weight on the palate, it’s a well-balanced and flavorful selection, with notes of orange essence, sweet wheat malt, banana and Belgian yeast. The carbonation is medium intense, and there’s a subtle, dry bitterness that lingers on the finish. A refreshing yet flavorful selection, this is an ideal choice for enjoying on warm summer nights.
abv: 5% Price: $10/750 ml
(Witbier; Smuttynose Brewing, NH). This self-appointed “unconventional wit beer” is Smuttynose’s third collaboration with a chef; in this case, it’s Jamie Bissonnette, chef and co-owner of restaurants Coppa and Toro in Boston and New York. Instead of going with traditional witbier-brewing additions of orange peel and coriander, Bissonnette brought kaffir lime leaves, spruce tips and grapefruit zest to the brew day. The result is an interesting take on a classic, still exhibiting traditional wit aromas and flavors of banana and yeasty spice, but with interesting notes of fresh pine needle and lime rind throughout. Clean, crisp and effervescent, it finishes dry and with a slight floral edge.
abv: 5.4% Price: $8/375 ml
(Hefeweizen; Pinkus Müller Brewery, Germany). A classic German hefe, this pours a hazy light-gold color, with an immediate thick head that subsides fast but leaves decent lacing behind. The nose is light and subtle, with soft aromas of clean wheat, grass, green banana and lemon pith. The palate offers a bit more intensity, as flavors of tart lemon custard, orange, pepper, raw bread dough and sweet malt fill the medium-weight mouth. It’s smooth and well balanced, with a slightly rich and creamy texture but a crisp, clean finish. Merchant du Vin.
abv: 5.1% Price: $3/500 ml
(Hefeweizen; Birrificio Gjulia, Italy). This is an interesting, new selection from winemakers Marco and Massimo Zorzettig of La Tunella in Friuli, made from wheat and barley grown on their farmlands and water from the well of Monte Mia. A rich gold color, this leads with scents of fresh wheat, underripe banana, tart orange and subtle sweet spice. Those notes carry through to the medium-weight mouth, with high carbonation that lifts the slightly slick texture. Hints of green peppercorn and lemongrass unfold on the finish. Alturis, USA.
abv: 6% Price: $10/330 ml
(Witbier; Brewery Ommegang, NY). Here’s a traditional Belgian-style witbier, brewed with orange peel and coriander. Light yellow-gold in color, with a soft haze, it pours quite frothy, but the head falls fast. The initial aromas are tart and spicy—like lemon pepper and coriander—with a fresh wheat accent. Citrusy flavors continue on to dominate the palate, with waves of juicy orange and lemon that are supported by a core of wheat and medium-sweet malt. The mouthfeel is light- to medium-bodied, with a subtle sweetness yet high carbonation to keep it fresh and clean through the close.
abv: 5.2% Price: $9/12 oz 4 pack
- 291 Miltenberger Dunkles Hefe Weizen Dark Wheat Beer
- 390 Belgh Brasse Mons Abbey Witte d’Abbaye
- 489 Smuttynose Smuttlabs Pure Bliss
- 588 Pinkus Certified Organic Hefe-Weizen
- 687 Gjulia Est Bianca
- 787 Ommegang Witte Wheat Ale