Wheat Beers are named such for the high wheat content that they are brewed with. Malted barley is also a significant component of wheat beer whose flavors can vary greatly depending on the style in which they are brewed. There are three main varieties of wheat beer:
Weissbier – The term refers to several wheat beers. The most common is “hefeweizen” a name that refers to wheat beer in its traditional, unfiltered form. Hefeweizen is known for its low hop bitterness and high carbonation.
Witbier – Also known as “White beer” or “witte”. Brewed mainly in Belgium, it is named so due to suspended yeast and wheat proteins which cause the beer to look hazy, or white, when cold. The flavor of witbier is slightly hoppish and slightly sour, but known to be very refreshing. Allagash White is a great example of a witbier.
Sour – Lambics are the most well known version of sour wheat beer. They are brewed only in certain regions of Belgium and produced using spontaneous fermentation - a natural process the cooled wort is left exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria native to the area (as opposed to being added by the brewers). Most well known lambics contain an addition of whole fruit or fruit syrup such as sour cherry (kriek), raspberry (framboise) and peach (pêche). These are not to be confused with many other fruit flavored beers on the market.
Most wheat beers are well paired with barbecued, grilled or smoked meats and vegetables as well as a classic pairing with bratwurst.
Our pick: Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen
Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen – A Clever Name for a Fabulous Beer
Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen is a wheat ale in which the yeast used in production has not been fully filtered from the beer, hence the name: UFO = UnFiltered Offering. Cloudy in color, a slight citrus aroma with a fluffy head and and a clean taste, UFO has become a favorite in many Boston area bars and restaurants while also spawning some other delicious varieties such as UFO Raspberry, UFO White and UFO Pale Ales. Our segment with Harpoon's Chris Ahearn goes into the creation of UFO, how it is served, and pairing ideas for this elegant and very satisfying beer.