Wheat beers, popular in southern Germany for centuries, are the best thirst quenchers. When the weather gets too hot for most, even ardent wine enthusiasts say: “ You know, what I’d really like is a cold wheat beer.”
Unlike lager malt beers, wheat beers are ready to drink just after bottling or soon thereafter. Traditionally, wheat beers were slightly cloudy or hazy, and some still are (hefe-weisse or hefe-weize as the Germans call them), but most are now finely filtered to remove proteins that cause cloudiness. Wheat beers contain less alcohol (3-4%ABV) than mainstream beers. They undergo a second fermentation in the bottle. Most main stream beers contain malted barley, rice, corn and wheat; wheat beer has some barley for body and taste nuance in the blend. They are generally light-to medium bodied, tart and dry, but vary dramatically pending on the brewery and region of origin.
Bavarian breweries like to produce a little “harder” beers than their Belgian counterparts farther north.
Berliner Weisse tends to be thin and acid requiring help from herbal syrups or raspberry essence as locals discovered long ago. Truly a Berliner Weisse on a hot and hazy day is a refreshing as a dip in a pool!
Ontarians seem to have discovered both the appealing taste and texture of wheat beers. Ontario microbreweries make and market a few, but the LCBO imports several, notably from Bavaria and Belgium
Surprisingly, American, Dutch, and Japanese brewers also brew quite delicious wheat beers, which are as yet unavailable in Ontario, but soon will be.
Interested parties can obtain Eramosa Honey wheat, F and B Brewery, Kitchener; Grasshopper Wheat Ale, Big Rock Brewery, Alberta; Hefe-Weissbier, Paulaner Brau, Munich, Schneider Weisse, Bamberg both in Bavaria, Germany, from LCBO stores.