Wheat beer recipes are as old as Babylon, where wheat grain was often used to make a heady brew. The Middle Ages
saw many new forms arise, where it was considered the brew of the nobility. Most beers of the period were dark and
consuming this Weissbier or white beer was therefore a mark of distinction. Similarly, the Bavarian tradition of
brewing goes back centuries. The famed Reinheitsgebot - the German purity law established in 1516 - continues to
control the way beer is made in this center of the beer universe.
Malt, hops, yeast and water are the only ingredients allowed under this aged law. No preservatives are allowed
and no fruit flavorings. By malt most will think barley, but there is another kind, less common but equally
delightful and that is wheat.
The nobility made good use of the law, where their court breweries, or those of the monks dependent on their
good favor, made the drink exclusively for their own. Thankfully, everyone can now enjoy this yeasty brew.
The Weizen or Bavarian style wheat beer of Edelweiss is nearly as old as the purity law itself. Even though
Edelweiss is part of Austria, it follows the Reinheitsgebot. In the brew, twice as much wheat as barley is used,
lending the final result a smooth, light taste. Lightly hopped, the honey colored drink is slightly sweet with a
The Edelweiss wheat comes in a variety of forms, such as the Kristallklar or crystal clear. Some find the cloudy
texture of wheat beer a little off putting. The Kristallklar filters the remaining yeast out to give a brew with
the clarity of fine champagne, but also a non traditional beer taste.
A more common form is the Hefetrüb, with its cloudy look and wonderfully yeasty taste. Served with a slice of
thick, hot bread, you could get your daily supply of grain from this combination alone.
There is even a dark form, the Dunkel, with plenty of yeast left in the bottle. For those who prefer a little
less yeast, pour slowly or filter. Others may want the full blast and should pour about two thirds, then swirl and
pour the remainder.
Not just tasty but healthy as well, as they are all rich in vitamin B2, and full of flavonoids. Several studies
suggest that these compounds, along with the alcohol provide numerous benefits. But you will be more interested in
the delightful taste.
Health benefits were not the reason the Elector of Bavaria mandated in 1603 that wheat would be used for beer.
But you will not need any law to induce you to try this heavenly brew.