Wheat beers are known throughout the world under different names, it might be a Witbier in Belgium or Weißbier in German or White Beer in English but in the end they all equate to one thing: smooth creamy beverages. Beer history dates back a long time and as far as humans can remember, the first wheat beer originated in Germany as early as 1040AD.
What is a wheat beer exactly? The Germanic name, Hefeweizen (Hefe is “Yeast” and Weizen is “Wheat”) pretty much defines the drink as a yeast based beer.
Crafted with up to 50%-65% malted wheat, the remainder of the grist is malted barley. This addition of wheat is what gives this beverage a very crisp and refreshing profile. Hefeweizens are generally highly carbonated brews and when poured these magnificent beers should be cloudy (from the higher proteins contained in wheat malt) pale gold to a spectrum of amber shades, with an almost on the verge of overflowing meringue-like crown. This goes for most beers brewed with wheat as well being that wheat malted or raw are great for head retention. You can stave off an overflowing head by rinsing your glass in cold water first (beeradvocate)
Typically, a wheat beer might be something you can hand to a friend that may not be that interested in beer. The beverage will be crisp and fresh, a very “summer time” type of beer that can have rich flavors and taste. Not all white/wheat beers are the same so having tried one doesn’t mean you’ll dislike all others because of their variety of tastes.
A few distinctive beer types would include Hoegaarden (Belgian Style), UFO (Un-Filtered Offering) Hefeweizen (American Style), Blue Moon (Belgian Style), Sierra Nevada Wheat and so many more. Like other popular beer styles there are so many great beers it’s hard to count them all and each will have a distinct flavor that requires you to taste test to see if it’s to your liking.
You should never hesitate to try a wheat style beer; you may not always know the defining flavors in such a beverage but you can be guaranteed to have a relaxing smooth textured drink. To get a complete breakdown on the styles, checkout about.com on wheat beers because their list is detailed and contains brewed beer examples.
A great wheat beer complements summer time much like that of a Mexican style beverage such as Corona. Word to the wise though, many folks find that wheat beers give them painful hangovers (as if there are any hangovers that feel like silk) so be warned. Drink a wheat in moderation or expect the worse. But I guess the same can be said for rum.