Did you know that the first wheat beer brewed in the United States after Prohibition wasn’t until 1984? Anchor Brewing claims the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 brought brewing in America back, but the prevalent beers were Pilsner-style lagers. Wheat beer had been forgotten in America. That was until G.I.s based in Germany after World War II rediscovered this popular German-style, and increased the demand for imported German beer styles (wheat beer among them).
Despite this interest, it wouldn’t be until 1984 that a wheat beer would be produced domestically. As the first American wheat beer in modern times, Anchor Summer® Wheat introduced the country to the clean, crisp flavors of a filtered wheat beer.
What is a Wheat Beer
Wheat beer is typically a top-fermented ale, using at least 30 percent wheat in the brewing process, and comes in a variety of styles. Wheat beers are typically light in color, low to medium in alcohol content, and can be cloudy or clear in appearance. They may be brewed with or without hops, depending on the variety, and tend to lack bitterness, making them easy drinkers, especially for folks who don’t like IPAs.
Wheat beers and lagers are often compared because of low bitterness, relatively low alcohol, and color. Not surprising that both categories are of German heritage and are popular with beer drinkers worldwide. It’s highly likely that you’ve enjoyed a wheat beer without even know it, as they encompass several popular styles including Hefeweizen, Berliner Weisse, Dark Wheat Beer, Belgian Witbier, American Wheat, and Fruit Wheat.
Wheat In St. Louis
Being that this beer town is built on a German beer foundation, it stands to reason that many of our local breweries have included wheat beers on their menus. Here are locally brewed wheat beers I plan on enjoying at least once this summer.
Schnicklefritz | German Hefeweizen | Urban Chestnut Brewing Company
5.0% ABV – 12 IBU
Perhaps my favorite all-time Hefeweizen, and perhaps UCBC’s most under-rated beer. This beer pours a beautiful amber with a slight haze. On the nose, you’ll get the promised banana and clove, with a hint of citrusy lemon and some wheaty malt. On the tongue, you’ll get a generous wheaty and grain malt, and again with the banana, clove and lemon. True to style.
Raspberry Hefeweizen | Fruit Wheat | Schlafly Beer | 4.1%ABV – 16 IBU
Fruit beer are not for everyone. If this is you, please consider this a solid gateway option to open your mind and your beer palate, to what I believe will a continuing trend in beer flavors and styles. Known as “brewers’ summer water” around the brewery, this unfiltered wheat beer is perfect for warm weather sipping.
Once the fruit’s sugar ferments out, the aroma and flavor of raspberries remain, making this a delightfully drinkable beer. With citrus aromas from the wheat and a desirable tart flavor, Raspberry Hefeweizen is low in bitterness and not overwhelmingly sweet, but refreshing and balanced.
Contact High Juiced | American Wheat | 4 Hands Brewing Co. | 5.5% ABV – 0 IBU
The original Contact High Hoppy Wheat, dry-hopped with Cascade and Centennial and featuring fresh orange zest, first arrived in 2012. For summer 2021, this popular beer is back and perfect for the warm weather ahead! Contact High is easy to drink and is made for fun.
Hibiscus Wit | Belgian Witbier | 2nd Shift Brewing Company | 5.2% – 24 IBU
Is there a beer out there that has had such a profound effect on you that you remember everything about the first time you sipped it? I do.
August 1, 2016 was a great day. Lunch with my wife at Salt + Smoke. And on that day, I discovered one of my favorite beers ever, 2nd Shift’s Hibiscus Wit. Another reason I loved the beer was that it was one of the rare brews that both I and my wife could enjoy together.
This beer is perfect in every way in my opinion. The balance of flavors and aromas, and the fact that every time I drink it, I get a great memory. Try making one of your own in your own backyard. It won’t disappoint.
Citrus Wheat | Wheat Beer – American Pale Wheat | Old Baker Beer
Old Bakery Beer’s Citrus Wheat is an unfiltered American Wheat beer, brewed with lemon peel, orange peel, coriander, and chamomile. By no means a heavy beer at 4.7 ABV, this is a sessionable choice that is interesting and unique.
It’s basically a mash-up between an American-style Wheat Beer and a Belgian Wit. From the Wit comes the orange peel, coriander, and chamomile. They use American ale yeast and hit it with a significant amount of lemon peel, which is more typical of American Wheats.
It’s brewed with Organic Raw Wheat grown just outside Champaign, Illinois. About 40% of the total grist.
Ophelia’s Wit | Wheat Beer – Witbier | Third Wheel Brewing | 5.4% ABV – 12 IBU
My first beer from Third Wheel Brewing occurred before they even had a taproom, and I knew that they had something here. “You’ll get the rosemary big of the nose,” I wrote back in 2017. This gem is a Belgian Witbier brewed with coriander and orange peel but dosed it with rosemary in secondary fermentation which adds a soft, piney, herbaceous note. You’ll remember this one.
Daydreaming | Belgian Witbier | Perennial Artisan Ales | 4.7% ABV
Daydreaming is a can conditioned Belgian Witbier, made in colloboration with Chandler Hill vineyards in Defiance, MO. Brewed with a bevy of wheat varietals, orange peel, freshly ground coriander, and freshly ground pink peppercorns. Fermented with a blend of Belgian yeasts that lend to the fruity and spicy aroma, complemented by the heavily wheated malt bill. Carbonated naturally in cans, so yeast sediment will be present. 4.7%
Blood Orange Wit | Witbier | Six Mile Bridge | 4.7% ABV
Made with real blood oranges and freshly ground coriander. It has a great flavor for Spring with fruity sweetness and a hint of spice. It’s a one of a kind beer that pairs very well with salads, BLTs, fresh fruit, and brunch.
Passing Clouds | Witbier | Rockwell Beer | 5.2%
Three types of wheat create a light and fluffy base for a delicate combination of citrusy American and spicy German hops, along with a blend of coriander, curaçao orange peel, and grains of paradise. It’s bright, soft, and incredibly refreshing.
Belgian White | Witbier | Good News Brewing | 5.5%
One of the first beers I tried from Good News. On style, this Belgian Wit is brewed with coriander and orange peel, and although I like to add an orange slice, you may not need too with this beer.
Oh, Hawaii | Fruit Beer | Square One Brewing | 4.75%
This was the wheat beer that prompted this article to start with. Upfront a nice hit of pineapple, that folds under nicely. Due to the continued presence of the fruit, there will be haziness and slight puree present in the glass. A great summertime wheat beer finishing with the sweet zestiness of pineapple.
Squeeze Box Lemon Wheat | American Pale Wheat | Heavy Riff Brewing | 4.8%
A slightly tart American Wheat Ale brewed with Lemondrop hops and lemon peel. A super refreshing summer ale, but will remind you of a summer shandy.
Blood Orange Wit | Wheat Beer | Petrichor Brewing | 5.4%
One of my favorite summer backyard beers. It’s just light enough to deal with St. Louis summer heat.
Half Wit Wheat | Witbier | Charleville Brewing | 4.5%
This beer just happens to be on Charleville’s year round beer menu and for good reason. It’s a great beer. Half-Wit is a cross between an American Wheat and a Belgian Wit. Clean and refreshing it’s made with white wheat, ground coriander, and dried orange.
Wheach | Fruit Beer | O’Fallon Brewing Co. | 5.1%
One of the more popular St. Louis brewed wheat beers. This one is smooth, clean with a touch of peach and you get the idea behind O’Fallon Wheach. Light, refreshing and crisp, it’s another backyard beer on my list.
Oranges On Wheat | Witbier | Shared | 5.0%
This was one of my first beers from Shared, the side project of Side Project. This beer has been a favorite when I can get it. Smooth and balanced with a bit more orange flavor than you might expect, which I like.
Hefeweizen Unfiltered Wheat | Hefeweizen | Schlafly | 4.4%
I remember my first Hefeweizen well, as it was the first craft beer my wife liked. Served with a wedge of lemon this beer is made with thirty percent American winter wheat, and balanced with sweet golden malted barley and Tettnang hops from Oregon that gives it a hint of spice.
Waterloo Wheat| Hefeweizen | Stubborn German Brewery | 5.0%
True to style, you’ll get all the clover and banana hints you can ask for, but not over the top in any way. Balance is Waterloo is about. You’ll get adequate breads and a nice swirly maltiness that will engage you to having another.