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Brewing Hefeweizen (Wheat) Beer
Brewing either the German or American Wheat beers is one of the easiest styles of beer to brew. When you see one in a glass, yellow to golden color and the rich, frothy head makes this a beer to behold...but not for long. The taste is not like any other traditional beer and sports a clove/banana aroma with a lingering bready taste. Most people either love or hate German wheat beers and they usually base their opinions on early taste experiences. Brewers who like the clove/banana aroma favor the German wheat beer while those who enjoy a cleaner character often favor the American Wheat beers.
The difference? While wheat beers are quite simple to brew and mature fairly quickly, it is the selection of yeast that influences the clove/banana phenolic aroma and flavor in this beer style.
The American Wheat Yeast (Wyeast 1010) makes a wonderfully clean brew that is a real thirst quencher. This is a beer that many of your friends who favor lighter beers will enjoy. The recipe can be as simple as 2ea 3.3# cans of Bavarian Wheat Liquid Malt Extract and an ounce of a low alpha hop, such as Saaz or Weihenstephen Weizen Yeast. You can brew a five gallon batch and split it into two fermenters and use the two different yeast to brew two significantly different Wheat beers! Try it and you can see which one you favor the most!
Because these beers traditionally have a cloudy appearance, there is no need to use WhirlFloc. If you do, the beer will be quite clear, but will still have the other Wheat Beer characteristics.
Wheat beers typically have a bit more carbonation than other beers and are best served chilled in a German Weissenbier glass. Some like adding a slice of lemon or orange to complete the presentation of this wonderful beer.
As you travel through the different beer aisles, you'll find that many of the American Wheat beers are flavored with fruit, such as cherry, raspberry, blueberry, watermelon, and other flavors. While adding fresh fruit is an option, most brewers use the natural fruit flavoring designed for beer. That makes a remarkably easy way of duplicating your wheat beer because you can use 2, 3, or 4 ounces at bottling time to achieve the flavor intensity you like the best.
And finally, always consume your wheat beers fresh. Fresh wheat beer is like fresh bread right out of the oven. Full of flavor and an aroma that surely will bring you back wanting more!