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Wheat Beer

Wheat beer, also referred to as wheat ale, is generally defined as beer brewed with malted or unmalted wheat making up 30 to 70 percent of the grist (grain) bill. Wheat imparts a clean, unobtrusive grain flavor, unlike the many varieties of malted barley that contribute significantly to the unique flavors of beer.

Because wheat has more protein than barley, it helps create a bigger, longer-lasting head on the beer—a distinguishing feature of most wheat beer styles, such as Hefeweizen. Wheat also contributes to a smooth, silky mouth-feel.

Wheat’s neutral qualities make it a terrific base grain that lets brewers use additional ingredients to influence aromas and flavors in their wheat beers, and produce their own wheat beer style.

Of wheat beer’s notable ingredients, yeast is the defining one in many of the best wheat beers. Most are brewed with a specific ale yeast strain, such as Hefeweizen ale yeast. Left unfiltered with the yeast in suspension, the fruity esters, aroma and flavor compounds (phenols) produced during fermentation are signal characteristics of wheat beers.

APPEARANCE
Color: Very pale, from almost white to brown
Clarity: Most are cloudy or hazy with yeast in suspension; filtered wheat beers can be clear.
Head: Fluffy, thick and long-lasting, leaving a lace on the glass

AROMA AND TASTE
Malts: Sweet and biscuity to chocolaty and toasty in dark versions
Hops: Very mild, in the background
Yeast: Fruity, with mild citrus to ester-y notes, including banana, with spicy flavor compounds, including clove in some styles
Other: Orange peel or lemon hints in some styles

MOUTH-FEEL
Consistency: Crisp, yet smooth
Carbonation: Creamy, round
Body: Light to medium
Finish: Long

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