And we’re not talking about the other well-known subset of wheat beers, the hefeweizen style of German wheat beer, even though that’s a much closer relative to today’s focus. OK, now you know what we’re not talking about. Here’s what we’re drinking—I mean, talking about:
American Wheat Ales are beers made with all the traditional quartet of ingredients – water, hops, barley, and yeast – but in this type of beer, an ample portion of the barley grain is replaced with wheat grains instead. The resulting flavors are amplified and defined by several specific yeast strains that give wheat beers their distinct bready, banana, and bubble gum flavors and aromas. I think the word to describe a wheat beer, if I must choose one, is Hell Yes. OK two words.
5 Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Samuel Adams Summer Ale. Yeah, yeah, two beers from one brewery, but it’s Sam Adams, people. Deal with it. Besides, it wouldn’t be summer without Summer Ale. The interplay of lemon zest, grains of paradise, selected malt and hops all come together to form this delightful taste of the warm season. It is a beer you could slurp down after a jog just as easily as you could sip a pint over the course of a good conversation. Sweet but not cloying, the littlest hint of bitterness, and all that refreshing light malt in between.
4 Longtrail’s Blackberry Wheat Ale
Longtrail’s Blackberry Wheat Ale might be hard for some of you to find, but find it you must! It’s the bottle with the charming bears on it, and the amazing, refreshing beer within. Unlike in Sam Adam’s Cherry Wheat beer, the fruit flavors in this offering are subtle and almost restrained: while sipping it, you know there is a fruit sweetness there, but it sits back and relaxes and lets the gentle interplay of malt and hops do most of the work. A well-made recipe for its restraint, I say.
3 Blue Moon
Blue Moon. OK fine, it made the list. And it made the list because it’s a good beer, never mind that it is brewed by a faceless multinational conglomerate. Blue Moon has all the right chops for a wheat beer: subtle sweetness, a strong orangey-citrus tang, gentle bread/cracker flavors, and a light, refreshing mouthfeel. But you already knew all that, you’ve had this beer, I’ll wager.
2 Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat
Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat – the brewers at Sam Adams love using special ingredients in special ways, often brewing beers perfectly suited to a given region or even a given period of history. This beer rather falls into both of those. Using American wheat and cherries from northeast, they have brewed a beer that you can imagine their patriot namesake and his peers quaffing at taverns while talking of revolution. And you can do that too! Quaff, we mean. Or talk about whatever you want, we’re talking about beer. The cherries provide a sweetness that is barely held in check by the bready wheat flavors of the beer, and while this fine ale may not be for everyone, it has its own devoted following.
1 German Hefeweizen
Widmer Brothers American take on the traditional German Hefeweizen is the standard bearer for American wheats. We’re not saying it’s the best; we’re saying it’s the model. Other beers may surpass it, others may fall short, but this beer embodies the style perfectly. It is low ABV (just under 5%) and 30 IBUs it is far from bitter. Rather it is a perfect session beer. A great lawnmower beer. It is great with dinner or on its own, from the bottle or from the tap, etc. You just don’t get tired of a good honest wheat like this. Light clove finish? Check. Banana and bubble gum notes? Check.
If your mouth is now watering for a wheat ale, we have done our jobs well. If your mouth is not watering for a wheat ale, we assume that it is because you currently have a mouthful of wheat ale. In that case, you have done a god job.