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Old 03-14-2008, 04:39 AM   #1
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Default Ok so I am confused, hefeweizen vs American wheat

So I know what a hefeweizen is and what constitutes a hefeweizen. The banana and clove from the yeast, the simple grain bill, low IBUs. What I don't understand is what an American wheat is? Is it just that people don't want to call it a hefeweizen because its not brewed in Germany, or is a beer with a majority base malt of wheat and fermented with a wheat beer yeast, not necesarrily a hefeweizen yeast? For example, BierMuncher uses S-05 to brew his Litehaus wheat, but Dude uses WLP-320 (American Hefeweizen yeast) to brew his watermelon wheat. I guess I just need a little clarification. Thanks!


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Old 03-14-2008, 04:45 AM   #2
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in german:
hefe = yeast
weisse = white
weizen = wheat

german styles use small amounts of hops and most of the flavor comes from the yeast, no specialty malts.

american styles sometimes use more hops, less estery yeast, etc. it basically means you have more freedom with the american style, as some of them still have banana flavor from the yeast, but just use more hops or different malts (even more barley)

i prefer a good german weisse-bier

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Old 03-14-2008, 04:54 AM   #3
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To me, the greatest difference is the ester profile: American wheats don't have too many esters, they are neutral, you could even brew one with Cal ale yeast. For the German hefe you definitely need German yeast. Some brewers tend to describe Amercian wheats as bland, boring beers, that's why most have some spice or fruit added.
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Old 03-14-2008, 05:37 AM   #4
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Many American wheats are simply brewed with regular ale yeasts to avoid the flavors of a german wheat. Even when american wheat yeasts are use, the do not act the same as german yeasts, they are in different families so to speak. They produce different flavors and sometimes different techniques are used to ferment them. American wheats tend to rely more on a wide variety of ingrdients such as hops and specialty malts, while geman weiss/weizens are more about the yeast, and rely on fewer ingredients. If you really want to know the specific differences, check out these guidlines.

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Old 03-14-2008, 02:19 PM   #5
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As you can see, they really are very different styles. About the only things in common are their light color and some wheat in the grain bill.

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Old 03-14-2008, 02:24 PM   #6
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A plain American wheat is a very bland style, which means that it makes a good base for fruit beers. It doesn't have a lot of character on its own.
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:33 PM   #7
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Of course, then you make a wheat with the WB-06 dry yeast and have no idea what to call it. It's banana/clovey to a certain extent but who know exactly what the heck it is.
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:35 PM   #8
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Everyone seems to like that odd beer that doesn't fit in the normal mold of good beer. For me it's Widmer Hefeweizen. In my imagination I taste alot more in it that is probably actually there but it's one of my favorite beers.

Still I see things I'd like to improve in it, and have some ideas floating around in my head.
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:35 PM   #9
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Also the "Hefe" refers to bottle-conditioning though secondary fermentation (ie bottle carbing).

Style-wise, American wheats use 50% or less, while German Weizens use mostly Wheat malts.
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:39 PM   #10
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I think the hefe refers more to the yeast in suspension.. or the cloudy look than bottle conditioning.

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