Many hostile to beer are unaware of the excitement and diversity of the wheat beer family. The distinctive flavor and aromas of the range of wheat beer styles make it easy to differentiate them from traditional beer flavor profiles, rendering them more accessible for the prejudiced, especially For those who disdain beer, and hold affection for wine, here’s a cheat sheet sequing from the grape to the grain.
Hefe Weizen – The most well know of the family of wheat beer styles, the hefe weizen has much in common with the ubiquitous white wine, the California chardonnay, With its full body and notes of buttery toast, the chard seems to echo hefe’s claim to fame as the quintessential breakfast beer. The chardonnay’s full body and decided tartness can also be found in the hefe-weizen.
Dunkles Weissbier – In the dunkles, the addition of dark malts to a weissbier adds a bready flavor balancing the hefty estery, citric wheat beer notes. Vouvray with its touch of sweetness, large body, and a little competition going on between acidity and honey sweetness seems the perfect twin from the world of grapes. It is the wine that the “in-the-know” would serve with favorite company and light seafood hors d’oeuvre. Next time, try the dunkles.
Belgium wit – From the former epicenter of a bustling maritime trade, redolent in herbs and spices from around the world, the wit or witte is conspicuous in its collection of spicy aromas and flavors – perfect for fans of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Citric, with the aroma of orange and grapefruit, the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, delivers a medium body, very aromatic, long dry finish. A crisp, cool, summer night on a beach.
American Wheat – A recent addition to the galaxy of wheat beer styles, American wheats are tailored for the American palate, with some fruity notes added to appropriate sharpness. Try it on a fan of Viognier, lighter interpretation of a chardonnay. Viognier has vibrant floral qualities with a touch of peachy, apricot notes, but very, very soft, dry, acidity. An outdoors beverage when you want to be bush whacked by exquisite floral aromatics.
Krystall Weizen – The krystall, with its brilliant clarity and subtle fruity flavors belongs with a wine lover whose taste runs towards the sublime. Pinot Grigiot is a very clean, very crisp, refreshing, white wine beautiful in all its clarity. An excellent choice when you don’t want to think about what you’re drinking. On the patio when the emphasis is on the conversation not the beverage.
Weizenbock – Weizenbocks present the drinker with a symphony of flavors and aromas emanating from a very big, complex beer, just right for Gewurtztraminer fan. Full bodied, with honey gingery spiciness, the Gewurtztraminer has a warm honey aroma and good solid beginning to end. It satisfies aromatically because of the honey then follows with a warm ginger sensation backed with general sweetness. An excellent choice when you want to add some spice to the evening or go with red chili paste or wasabi.
Berlinner Weisse – The “Champaign of the North,” the Berlinner weisse goes hard after a dry, tart, and bubbly affect. Share this with a lover of Oregon Brut, a spritzy, very, very dry medium body sparkling wine with doughty yeast flavors balancing a complex acidity. As with the Berlinner Weisse, this is a cocktail wine especially with a dollop of raspberry.
Special toast to Laura Fortini and Jim Weaver, Whole Foods Specialty Department, Durham NC, for wine recommendations and comments.