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Wheat beer is a beer which is made with wheat, creating a much lighter color and more delicate flavor than beer made with barley and other grains. Historically, wheat has been a challenging grain to use in brewing, but when prepared well, a wheat beer can be quite distinctive and, in the eyes of some consumers, quite tasty. Germany and Belgium have a long history of wheat beer production, and many American breweries also make their own wheat beers.
Alone, wheat cannot actually be brewed into beer. Therefore, small amounts of malted barley are added to ensure that the beer ferments properly, and hops may or may not be added, depending on the brewer's taste. Also depending on taste, the wheat may be raw or malted, creating distinctly different flavors, and the vast majority of wheat beers are considered ales, meaning that they are made with top-fermenting yeast.
Several things characterize wheat beer. The first is the light color, which is often in the straw-gold to golden yellow spectrum. Wheat beer also has a very delicate, mild flavor, which tends to be sweet and creamy. Depending on the brewer, wheat beers may have a very full mouthfeel, or a more effervescent texture in the mouth. Wheat beer also has a comparatively short fermentation, allowing people to drink it shortly after it is brewed.
In Germany, where wheat beer is known as weisbier, this beer has a long and illustrious history, complete with a temporary ban during a period of famine when the government decided that wheat was too valuable as a bread ingredient to be used in beer. Belgian wheat beers are known by the name of whitbier; both names translate as “white beer,” a reference to the pale color of wheat beer. Also, many wheat beers historically were very cloudy, making them appear even more white.
In addition to being produced plain, wheat beer can also be fermented with various fruits and spices for specifically desired flavors. This beer tends to be especially popular in the summer, when the mild, creamy flavor is very freshing, and it is especially popular among beer drinkers who do not fancy the taste of hops.
Serving temperatures for wheat beers vary, depending on the style in which the beer is produced. Many bartenders also offer wheat beer with a wedge of lemon; some people feel that the lemon enhances the flavor of the beer, while purists believe it does just the opposite.
I love wheat beer. I also kind of like that it is harder to make, because I'm hoping to give it a try at some point.
There are some really fabulous craft wheat beers around though. If you want to try some, I suggest going to a good bar and asking the bartenders to recommend one to you. You can find all kinds of wonderful beers by doing this, which you might not otherwise get a chance to try.
Of course, craft beers are more expensive, but worth it in my opinion.
I really love the taste of a good wheat beer. Even one that is pretty good, but not excellent is still more delicious than some other kinds of beer.
I always feel like I can taste the wheat, somehow, almost like I'm eating bread along with my beer. I know that sounds silly, and it probably is.
It does make me think of how ancient Egyptians actually made beer from baked bread. But, I think that was barely bread rather than wheat.
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