Wheat ales are different, generally lower in hoppiness and higher in frothiness. I know of many otherwise well-rounded beer aficionados, particularly hopheads, that hate them and obversely many beer novices that love them. Maybe it’s the softness of hops that fuels the passions of both groups, but whatever the cause their appeal is singular.
Wheat ales conspicuously skated around the strictures of the Reinheitsgebot in Germany where weissbiers were stylistically perfected, despite being highly tolerated exceptions to the rule. Elsewhere in Europe and the Americas, they provide a creative canvas for all sorts of unique compositions of fruit, spice, and even more esoteric ingredients. Our 2010 World Beer Championships wheat beer tasting supported both these observations, but also demonstrated that good and even great wheat beers of all styles are being made everywhere.
A few of the European highlights from our tasting include: Germany’s Wurzburger Hofbrau Julius Echter Hefe-Weiss (93 points) and Austria’s Hofbräu Kaltenhausen Edelweiss (90 points), Holland’s La Trappe Witte Trappist (92 points), and Scotland’s Williams Bros. Brewing Grozet Gooseberry & Wheat Ale (90 points). And on the home front, craft brewers showed that they don’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to quality and flavor. North American standouts included: Stevens Point Brewery’s Point Horizon Wheat (90 points), The Boston Beer Co.’s Samuel Adams Imperial White Ale (94 points), Unibroue’s Blanche de Chambly (92 points), Bastone Brewery’s Weizen Bock (93 points), Fish Brewing Co.’s Leavenworth Biers Boulder Bend Dunkelweizen (90 points), Chameleon Brewing Co.’s Witty Ale (90 points), and Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery’s Blue Ridge Blueberry Wheat (93 points).
So rejoice “wheat heads”(and you know who are). There are more choices than ever to satisfy your singular taste for wheat.