Wheat beer, also known as weiss beer or white beer, is a fresh and easy to drink beer. Popular during the summer, but also a real guilty pleasure during those cold winter days when we may reach for a Weizener more quickly. But what is the difference between wheat beer and Weizen? Read more and discover everything about white beer!
White beer versus weizen beer: these are the differences
First of all, let’s discuss both names. White beer (witbier) and weizen beer, also called weizen, are two different kinds of beer. Most people think that white beer is a simple translation of the word weizen, but that is not the case. ‘Weizen’ or ‘weiss’ refers to wheat. When weizen beer contains at least 50% wheat, we can say it is a weizen beer. In addition to grain, hops and water, a real weizen beer may not contain any other ingredients or flavor enhancers. White beer is not restricted to these rules. Therefore, ‘a regular’ white beer often consists of several ingredients such as fruits or even herbs. That sounds weis, doesn’t it?
In terms of alcohol percentage, white beer is originally the more ‘stronger’ or ‘heavier’ one of these two. White beer usually contains between 4.5 and 6% alcohol, while weizen beer is already available with a percentage of 2.8%, making them easy drinkers.
Weizen beer: a brief history
Let’s go to Germany where weizen beer is called Weißbier, German Weizen or Weissbier. Weiß translates to white, so it seems logical to most people that weizen and white mean exactly the same. Well … when we go back in time, we will see that the origin of this beer is slightly different. This beer owes its name to weizen, which means wheat. This is due to the fact that this beer consists of a high amount of wheat that is used to brew this specific kind of beer. Are you still with us?
Were you wrong about everything? No, it is correct that weizen beer is founded in Germany. In the 16th century, weizen beer was brewed in Bavaria. The lords of this free state (vrijstaat), located in the south-east of Germany, were so stoked about this beer that they decided that only one brewery got the exclusive rights to brew this weizen beer. At that time, brewers were only allowed to use barley. This was due to the fact that wheat was only to be used by bakers. An important rule during the brewing process is that it should contain at least 50% wheat, also called weizen.
Nowadays, weizen beer is extremely popular from Scandinavia to North America. Also across Europe, for example in the Netherlands, people love to drink a weizen beer. Weizen is available all year round, but when you join the amazing Oktoberfest in Germany, you will see that weizen beer is especially appreciated during this event!
White beer: where does it come from?
So next stop, white beer. This kind of beer does not come from Germany, but can be traced back to Belgium. The origin of white beer goes all the way back to the 16th century, when most beers were ‘dark’ or ‘brown’ colored. Compared to beer, which is over 400 years old, you can say that white beer is still young. By the middle of the last century, white beer was almost extinct and forgotten. That was until Pierre Celis, a milkman from Hoegaarden, bought a brewery from his savings and started brewing wheat beer. It became immensely popular in the nearby village and it was only a matter of time before the beer was well known in the entire area. Even beyond the country’s borders white beer gained popularity and people loved it.
Different kinds of weizen
A white beer can be recognised by its light color and cloudy appearance. These types of beers are often brewed according to the same brewing process, but there can be a difference in additives like fruit and herbs, which influences the taste and experience.
Weizen beers can be divided into different types. Below we listed those different types:
- Hefeweizen: ‘Hefe’ is the German word for yeast. Hefeweizen distinguishes itself from other weizen due to fermentation with a fruity flavor and a cloudy blond color.
- Dunkelweizen: this weizen beer is darker in color than other wheat beers, and has a sweet maltiness. A cross between hefeweizen and dunkel.
- Kristallweizen: when compared to other weizen beers, kristallweizen is filtered. Due to filtering the yeast gets removed which results in a ‘crystal’ clear beer.
- Weizenbock: this beer can be compared to a bock beer, but is brewed according to the rules that apply to weizen beer. It contains a high alcohol percentage and can be identified by its rich, herbal taste.
The best white beers and weizen can be found at Beer Republic
If you are thirsty by now, do not hesitate and order your beers online and check out our webshop. Beer Republic has a wide range of white beers and weizen beer from the Netherlands, Belgium and of course Germany. Enjoy a white beer or experience the bold taste of a Weizenbock. With just a simple click you can order your favorite white and weizen beers via our website.