Spotting this style is easy—just look for billowy, mousselike heads toppling over tall glasses, or catch a whiff of those banana and clove aromas that are unmistakably “weizen.” By German law, a minimum of 50 percent of a weizen’s grain profile must be malted wheat, which lends these beers a creamy fullness; weizen yeast provides that signature aroma and a spicy, fruity flavor that sometimes includes hints of vanilla or bubblegum. Though they finish relatively dry, hops should lend only a hint of bitterness to keep the brew tart and refreshing. Weizens divide into two substyles: krystals, brilliantly clear filtered versions, and hefes, unfiltered brews that contain sediment and much of the yeast used for fermentation. Both types differ from American wheat beers with subtler malt and hop characters and more pronounced spice and banana notes. Originally brewed for summer refreshment, brewers now craft weizens year-round. But drink yours quickly; the style doesn’t age well.
Pair: Though traditionally paired with weisswurst, hefes match a huge range of dishes: They’re light enough to subtly complement fresh fruit and granola, pack enough flavor to stand up to pork chops and seafood, and display delicious fruit notes that harmonize with strawberry sundaes and key lime pie.
Glassware: weizen glass