Now that the muggy days of summer in Saint Louis are just around the corner, it’s time to celebrate one of the most refreshing beers out there. Whether called Weizen, Weissbier, or Hefe Weizen, traditional German style wheat beers cut through the oppressive heat of summer and can slake the most powerful of thirsts.
Although Germany is widely associated with well-known styles of lager, such as pilsener, helles, and various bock beers, wheat beer is actually an ale. Wheat beers emerged in Bavaria some time during the fifteenth century and were much paler than anything else produced in those days. Their popularity in Germany has waxed and waned over the centuries. At one time, wheat beers were regarded as the most sophisticated beers, often served in tall schooners. They also remain popular breakfast beers in southern Germany.
Wheat beer was touted as a health beverage. The legitimate science behind this has to do with the relatively high concentrations of yeast left in suspension in unfiltered wheat beers. This yeast is an excellent source of B vitamins.
Traditional German style wheat beers have a few features in common. Our own take on the classic unfiltered Bavarian wheat beer shares these features.
They are always very lightly hopped, generally measuring just 12–15 I.B.U.s. Ours is 14. We finish our wheat beer with Tettnang hops, a classic German noble hop variety with a delightfully spicy, slightly earthy character.
Authentic German ale yeast strains used for wheat beers tend to produce notable phenolic and estery aromas and flavors. Chief among these are a clove-like spiciness and a fruity, banana note that is sometimes almost candy-like. For this reason, drinkers sometimes regard wheat beer as sweet, though it is actually quite dry. The yeast strain we use imparts subtle but discernable clove and banana notes that are well integrated. It is called Weihenstephan Weizen yeast, and if that name sounds familiar, it’s because Weihenstephan brews one of the most popular wheat beers in the world.
Unfiltered wheat beers tend to be somewhat opaque. There are two main reasons for this. The yeast tends to remain in suspension longer than other varieties and wheat malt is much higher in protein than barley malt. These proteins can impart a degree of haze. In a lager, this would be undesirable, but it is a defining aspect of wheat beers.
As a general rule, traditional wheat beers are at least 50% wheat. We use 45% old world pilsener malt and 55% wheat (comprised of three different varieties).
Our German Wheat Beer is true to the traditional German style and just as tasty and refreshing. It’s no wonder Hefe Weizen is one of the first and most popular craft styles. It has wide appeal and a thirst-quenching quality few other beers can match. Summer’s almost here, so head down to South City’s very own beer garden and let us pour you a pint or two of German Wheat Beer. You might just think you’re in Bavaria. Prost!
~ Dr. Patrick Hurley of Tower Grove South
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.