Ray's Craft Beer Newsletter
You Can't Beat These Wheats
May 2013
Volume 2 Issue 9 
Dear Rays Craft Beer Lovers,
The month of May is already upon us. While the lovely weather may have been prematurely taken away from us, that's never the case with craft beer! Whether out on the town after the long winter or relaxing in the back yard, rising temperatures make me think of one thing -- wheat beers. Well... that and how I could really use a tan. After running through a variety of wheat sub styles, you'll be amazed at how versatile this simple cereal grain can be!


Dan Downes
Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen
Ommegang Witte
New Glarus Berliner Weiss
Nothing against wheat, but I'd prefer the one on the left.
Wheat Beers

Wheat beer is a broad term that encompasses many different styles and substyles. Even though they all contain wheat as part of the mash, the proportions used vary widely. American wheat beers run as low as 20-30% wheat, while German Weiss beers may get as large as 70%! 


So how does wheat change a beer? I'm sure many of you have heard of the protein called gluten. Found in higher concentrations in wheat than barley, these gluten proteins give wheat beers their thick, long lasting heads. While contributing relatively little to the flavor, they also give beers a hazy appearance and a smooth mouthfeel. Highly effervescent and refreshing, they make perfect warm weather beers!

Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen



We'll start things off with a classic German Hefeweizen. In general, hefeweizens are characterized by two things -- esters and phenols. I know how much people enjoy reading about chemistry, but I'll try to keep it brief. Esters and phenols are yeast derived flavors created in the brewing process. Found in all beers to varying degrees, they give hefeweizens their distinctive flavors and aromas. Isoamyl acetate is an ester that produces strong banana notes. 4 vinyl guaiacol is a phenol produced when yeast interacts with ferulic acid (a compound in barley) and gives off clove aromas and flavors. 


If you're looking for the prototypical hefeweizen, this is it. In fact, the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan actually lays claim as the oldest continuously running brewery in the world! Originally under the control of Benedictine monks, the brewery received its license to brew from the city of Freising in the year 1040. When you do something for almost 1000 years, you tend to get pretty good at it and Weihenstephaner is no exception to that rule. Medium-light bodied with full carbonation, this beer delivers everything you expect from the style. The ester and phenolic characteristics we discussed earlier are present in addition to subtle tropical fruits and bready malt. Perfect on its own, it makes a great accompaniment to salads. 

Ommegang Witte

Where Germany has the hefeweizen, Belgium has the witbier. The style almost went extinct when the last witbier brewery closed its doors in 1957. About 10 years later, a local milkman named Pierre Celis decided to revive it. This new beer was called Hoegaarden and eventually Celis sold his brewery to Interbrew (now known as Anheuser-Busch InBev).


Despite being made in Cooperstown, New York, Ommegang's Witte is a witbier that would make Pierre Celis proud. A hazy yellow-orange hue, big citrus aromas of orange peel and lemon pair with coriander spiciness. This interplay of spicy and fruity continues to the taste along with some biscuity malt and grassiness from the hops. Light, but with a depth of flavor, its #1 pairing is with mussels, but it also serves as an excellent Sauvignon Blanc substitute.
Milwaukee Brewing Company O-Gii 


Ommegang may produce a classic Belgian Witbier, but Milwaukee Brewing Company ratchets things up with their imperial version called O-Gii Formerly known as Godzilla, this is one monster of a beer brewed with Rishi tea and Asian spices. Straw-like in color, O-Gii's aromas are decidedly floral along with a some grassiness and coriander. 


Deceptively smooth, there's an underlying honey characteristic throughout balanced by a light bitterness. The tea attributes become more pronounced in the finish and give the impression of chamomile or chai. The spices also add another layer of complexity with coriander and ginger coming in as well. Whenever people ask about this beer, I tell them that this is a 9.2% ABV beer that drinks like it's 4.2%, so you've been warned! 

New Glarus Berliner Weiss

The last beer for today is different from any other wheat beer out there. The latest Thumbprint series beer from the fine folks at New Glarus (freshly delivered today), is the Berliner Weiss. Dating back almost 400 years, this style also faced extinction in the 19th century. Composed of 50% wheat malt, what makes this beer unique is the secondary fermentation with Lactobacillus yeast which sours the beer.


Light in body, the sour flavors dominate, but it still finishes clean and refreshing. How do Berliner Weisse differ from other sour beers like lambics? Berliner Weisse have rounder, lactic sourness, while lambics have a sharper, acidic sourness. A light graininess and green apple fruitiness is present, too. The sour part might scare you off, but once you try it you'll realize why Napoleon's troops often referred to this style as the "champagne of the North!"

Save 10%
Receive 10% of all beers featured in Volume 2 Issue 9 of the Ray's craft beer newsletter. Thus, it is limited to Ommegang Witte, New Glarus Berliner Weisse, Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen and Milwaukee Brewing Company O-Gii. No limit. Not redeemable with any other special offers. 


Offer Expires: Sunday May 5 at 5:00pm
Thanks again for subscribing to and reading Ray's craft beer newsletter. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me at dandownes@rayswine.com

Lastly, for up to the minute beer arrivals and release information, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We have also added lots of great craft beer events (in addition to excellent wine and spirit ones, too) in our upstairs tasting room. A full list can be found here

Dan & the gang at Ray's

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