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What is a Wheat Beer?

Find out more about our seasonal beer – Hop ‘Til You Drop, a 5.0% American Style Wheat Beer.

Hop ‘til You Drop – 5.0% Wheat Beer

Hi! This is Rob (the brewer at The Hop Shed), and I wanted to start a blog for anyone interested about our seasonal beers as they’re released, as well as brewing in general. This first entry is about our current seasonal special Hop ‘til You Drop, which is the third of six releases this year in our trial hop series.

The main hop character in this beer comes from CF329, which gives a fresh dry lime flavour and aroma, perfect for the – hopefully! –  warmer weeks of summer. CF329 is a daughter of the hop variety Harlequin (I might do another blog on the great English hops that Charles Faram have developed & released over the last 5 years or so, but Harlequin gives fantastic soft tropical notes), and in my opinion it absolutely lives up to that lineage.

Style-wise I chose to brew a wheat beer because they are typically easy drinking and relatively highly carbonated which suits the summer, and also have a fairly simple malt bill which allows the hop character to shine.

But what is a wheat beer?

Beer is usually predominantly brewed with barley. At its most basic, barley is steeped in hot water to extract sugars (and colour, flavour, etc.) which are then consumed by yeast during fermentation, producing alcohol. Wheat is sometimes used in small quantities to improve the body and foam of beer, but wheat beers have a much higher proportion relative to barley. Hop ‘til You Drop is made up of 50% barley malt and 50% wheat malt, which results in a fuller beer with bready/cereal malt flavours. Another potential impact of using wheat is haze formation, hence why many wheat beers are cloudy, but as this is generally undesirable in cask beer we use finings (haze-removing compounds) to clarify it.

When you think of wheat beer, a few different things may come to mind. That’s because as a style wheat beer is fairly diverse, and the flavour can come from a number of different ingredients:

  • Weissbier – German wheat beer, usually presenting with a mix of banana and clove flavours created by using a specific type of yeast
  • Witbier – The Belgian style, which can have yeast character ranging from spicy to clove to medicinal, and has herbs and spices added (typically orange peel & coriander seeds)
  • American Wheat Beer – Uses a neutral yeast strain and more hops for a cleaner, hoppier beer

And this list is certainly not exhaustive! There are also Berliner Weisse, Wheat Wine, Weizenbock… Hop ‘til You Drop is perhaps unsurprisingly most similar to an American Wheat Beer in style, as the recipe is focused around the hops; we have however labelled it just as Wheat Beer, so as not to cause confusion around the fact that the hops in the beer (and in all of our beers) are English!

Thanks for reading; if you have any feedback or questions my email is rob@thehopshed.co.uk. I plan to try and do one of these posts for each seasonal beer we release with more information about it, but if you have a topic (simple or complex!) you’d like to know about feel free to suggest it and I might try and squeeze it in somewhere!               

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