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 (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's another kind, less common but equally delightful - 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.
No better place than Bavaria exists to do so.
The Weizenbier (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 delicate nose.
The Edelweiss wheat comes in a variety of forms, such as the Kristallklar (crystal clear). Some find the cloudy texture of a wheat bear off-putting. The Kristallklar filters the remaining yeast out to give a brew with the clarity of fine champagne, but 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's 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, all are rich in vitamin B2, and full of flavonoids. Several studies suggest that these compounds, along with the alcohol provide numerous benefits. But you'll be more interested in the delightful taste.
Health benefits weren't the reason the Elector of Bavaria mandated in 1603 that wheat would be used for beer. But you won't need any law to induce you to try this heavenly brew.