Wit, Wheat, and Weizen?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Foamster, Aug 15, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    Can someone help me sort out the differences between witbiers, wheats (particularly the light American Ales), and Hefeweizens? Is the name difference just a matter of geography? Should I be looking for the same things in all of them, or are the differences pretty significant? I've been buying American Wheats lately and have been pretty disappointed. with their blandness The few wits I've had have been on the sweet side. The German hefes were a joy. Anybody have any takes on this?
     
    HopHead34 likes this.
  2. azorie

    azorie Champion (892) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

    http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style

    I like mostly wits, then hefe's and then SOME american ones SN kellerwies is great. Bm is a fav just me though. YMMV
     
    Foamster likes this.
  3. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Devotee (400) Mar 23, 2008 California

    Wit- Belgian in origin, brewed with a unique Witbier yeast strain, usually brewed with coriander and orange peel as spicing

    American Wheat- early craft brewers take on a Hefeweizen, they use an american yeast strain, the result is usually a pretty bland beer (widmer & Pyramid) unless you hop it to hell (gumballhead & little sumpin' sumpin')

    Hefeweizen- German in origin, the unique yeast gives off esters of bubblegum, banana, and clove
     
    BobZ, Pahn, Boz12 and 8 others like this.
  4. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    Widmer and Pyramid - you hit the nail on the head --- I tried these and I was about to swear off American Wheats altogether. Dundee Summer Wheat at least lives up to its modest proclamation - "Cloudy and Crisp." Thanks for sorting this out.
     
  5. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    Also get the feeling that American brewsters don't have the passion for creating great Wheat. Unlike the way they seem to be devoted to coming up with outstanding IPAs.
     
    keithmurray likes this.
  6. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Devotee (400) Mar 23, 2008 California

    Sierra Nevada Kellerweis is a great american made German style hefe.
    Allagash White & Ommegang Witte are great american made Belgian style Witbiers

    But ya, American brewers definitely do not focus on wheat beers too much.
     
    Boz12, vkv822 and Foamster like this.
  7. claytri

    claytri Initiate (0) Jan 17, 2004 Maryland

    I guess it all depends on what you call great beer. If that means you've got to hop it up, then no they haven't done that often. The American Wheat beers tend to be on the malty side, and that lets the wheat show through like it does in the Wit and Hefe's. The Wheat should be the centerpiece not the hopping like in a hopmonster. Maybe it's not your style, but I love the distinctive taste of wheat, and I enjoy most American Wheat beers.
     
    TheBeerbarian, TicoCali and Foamster like this.
  8. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    Good point. I'm probably looking for something in wheat beers that they're not supposed to be delivering in the first place.
     
  9. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    Thank you for the tips.
     
  10. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,692) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Society

    To me, wit and weiss (weizen, hefe, whatever you want to call it) are like pretty close cousins, while the American wheat beers are a bit different. Often times good witbiers and weissbier will taste pretty similar even taking the Belgian adjuncts into account.
    With American ones, don't expect much in the way of yeasty notes...but, like claytri mentions - they will have more of a husky wheat character. In the case of the European wheat beers, most of the flavor comes from the yeast and not the grain. While not my favorite style - if you don't want one that has been overhopped or turned into some kind of weird IPA hybrid, the one from Odell (Easy Street) is a pretty solid example.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  11. mattbk

    mattbk Devotee (438) Dec 12, 2011 New York
    Brewery

    I went to a tasting last year and someone from Pyramid was there proclaiming their wheat beer to be "the world's best Hefeweizen". I love Hefe's and hadn't had it; and yes, it's a very, very bland beer. And so I asked "where's the clove? the banana? any yeast character?" At which time the rep explained to me that this was an "American Hefeweizen". I did not explain to her that Hefe translates into yeast. But I did decide to never purchase another Pyramid beer. Major pet peeve.
     
    TastefulNudity, azorie and Foamster like this.
  12. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    Odell is now on my list of beers to try. Thanks.
     
  13. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,393) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina

    Mother Earth Sunny Haze is a fantastic hefeweizen. Oberon is probably the best American Wheat that isnt over hopped.
     
    JimKal and Foamster like this.
  14. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,613) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
    Society

    Try these three to get an idea of what each is, each one should be easy to find.

    Witbier - Allagash White

    Hefeweizen - Weihenstaphaner Hefeweizen (make sure this is somewhat fresh, if not, grab Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, shoudn't have an issues finding this fresh)

    American Pale Wheat Ale - Sam Summer
     
    Foamster likes this.
  15. claytri

    claytri Initiate (0) Jan 17, 2004 Maryland

    Yeah, and that's fine if you don't like a style. It's just this is a pretty subtle style. A good example would be Anchor's Summer Ale. It won't wow you in fact my best description is a very nice example of what a Stag, Falstaff, or Pearl would have tasted like if done well. Which after I had it made me wonder if a lot of the American regional brews had used wheat in their grain bill. It would have been a step up from Corn, but still lowered the cost.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  16. claytri

    claytri Initiate (0) Jan 17, 2004 Maryland

    For the Hefe I'd actually suggest a Schneider's.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  17. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,393) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina

    Konig Ludwig and Ayinger are awesome as well. AVOID Hacker-Pschorr Sternweisse. so bad.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  18. Nutwood

    Nutwood Initiate (0) Jun 30, 2012 Kentucky

    Flying Dog In Heat Wheat is a nice American take with some depth and complexity.
     
    Foamster and claytri like this.
  19. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    Hefeweizens are the best :wink: But relaly witbiers are usually light with a big clovey yeast flavor and usually brewed with spices, american ones are jsut pure water, german ones (specifically bavarian) have a little more body and usually are solely driven by he malt and the yeast profiles (banana, clove).
     
    Foamster likes this.
  20. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    you probably had an old bottle of sternweisse. AVOID old weissbiers
     
  21. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,393) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina

    Some German hefes dont tickle my fancy. Hacker-Pschorr, Franziskaner, and Erdinger just dont do it for me.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  22. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    thats odd cause all 3 of those fit a different flavor profile. When fresh I don't see a flaw in any of them though they are all different.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  23. hopsputin

    hopsputin Poo-Bah (2,252) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey
    Society


    I did the same thing with the Widmer 'wheat'. I bought a 6 pack, all excited for a new 'hefe'. Ended up being one of my lowest reviewed beers. IMO, awful.

    *Edit: I'm a hugee wheat beer fan
     
    Foamster likes this.
  24. superspak

    superspak Poo-Bah (24,468) May 5, 2010 Ohio
    Society Trader

    The yeast.

    Also Wits are generally spiced with coriander and citrus zests. American wheat and Hefeweizen hopping and malts tend to be very similar, but the Hefeweizen yeast adds a lot of those banana, clove, and bubblegum flavors you are surely familiar with. American Wheat generally uses just plain old American Ale yeast. Wits do have their own strain that imparts a very spicy ester profile.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  25. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    I'll watch out for them!
     
  26. Steeeve

    Steeeve Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2010 Pennsylvania

    American wheat ales are usually light, tart, sometimes hoppy, but do not have a lot of yeast character. German weissebiers tend to be dominated by banana and clove notes, and have more body than American wheats. Belgian wits are spicy from the yeast, and almost always have coriander and bitter orange peel with very minimal hopping.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  27. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Initiate (165) Dec 20, 2006 New York

    I don't know if anyone has mentioned this but a key difference between the way these beers are brewed is that German Hefeweizen is brewed with malted wheat where as Belgian Wit is brewed with unmalted wheat (and often some unmalted oats as well).
     
    Foamster likes this.
  28. Providence

    Providence Crusader (709) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Kellerweis is excellent. I am not beer savy enough to say whether or not it's a great representation of the style, but it sure pleased me.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  29. Providence

    Providence Crusader (709) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    What are the definitions of malted wheat and unmalted wheat? I have heard the terms tossed around on the homebrewing forum, but I have never really understood.
     
  30. sherm1016

    sherm1016 Aspirant (210) Aug 10, 2009 Wisconsin

    I would recommend you try to get your hands on some New Glarus. Only sold in WI, but should be easy to trade for. Dancing Man (Hefeweizen) and Laughing Fox (Kristalweizen) are both on the shelves now and are excellent.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  31. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (621) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Foamster likes this.
  32. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,832) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    The American wheats like Widmers started to sell in large volume, and created the style. For those that don't know, Widmer's house yeast come from Zum Uerige, an Altbier brewery. The Alt was to be their flagship, but it did not take off.

    One thing that you must consider is that German wheat beer yeasts are said to benefit from open fermentation and are a little finicky. Yeast management can become involved. New Glarus and Sierra Nevada both use open fermenters for their German wheats. Sierra Nevada had brewers travel to Bavaria to talk to the brewers there about wheat beer, and sourced the yeast from one of them.
     
    TheBeerbarian and Foamster like this.
  33. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Initiate (165) Dec 20, 2006 New York

    Malted grain means that it's been sprouted, which activates the enzymes in the grain so that when mashed in warm water the starches will convert to sugar. Unmalted grain has not been sprouted, is not enzymatically active, and must be mashed along with a malted grain that has excess enzymatic power. Malted grains yield a different flavor and mouthfeel to the beer than unmalted grains.
     
  34. Cyrano41

    Cyrano41 Aspirant (246) Aug 7, 2009 Virginia

    All outstanding! For me its, Hefe, Wheat then witbier.
     
    Foamster likes this.
  35. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    I agree about Kellerweiss. I had one just after a Weihenstaphener Hefe and it came in a very close second.
     
  36. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    Will try that one.
     
  37. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    As I go along, it's coming out Hefe, Wit, and then Wheat.
     
  38. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    That explains why Kellerwieis is so close to the German Hefe I had.
     
  39. Foamster

    Foamster Initiate (78) Mar 31, 2012 New York

    ..but I have to say, still --- the American Wheats are an acquired taste that I haven't yet acquired. I don't know yet if it's a matter of subtlety or whether there's just something too "tangyi" for my uneducated palate... something almost "fruit-juicy" about them that I can't get into (even though I can get into that "banana" thing in the Hefes... maybe it's the creamy mouthfeel of the Hefes that helps).
     
    claytri likes this.
  40. BlueRogue

    BlueRogue Initiate (0) May 1, 2011 Maine

    I agree, except I'd replace Sam Adams Summer with Southern Tier Hop Sun.
     
    Foamster likes this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.