Nothing beats a beer on a hot summer’s day, but when temperatures start dipping, many of us prefer to reach for a more comforting glass of red.
It doesn’t have to be that way. For those who prefer something a little lighter on the alcohol front, and a drink that leaves you feeling refreshed rather than sluggish, a wheat beer can be the perfect choice.
“Wheat beers are light, aromatic and flavourful beers – easy drinking and also brilliant for matching with food,” says Jamie Matthewson, beer buying manager at Waitrose.
“Probably the most prominent styles within the wheat beer category are the German weissbier and the Belgian witbier,” adds Kevin O’Donnell, editor of subscription beer site Flavourly‘s magazine.
“Germans weissbiers tend to be heavy on banana and clove aromas and flavours; these are amazing when drank cold on a hot day. Belgian witbiers, on the other hand, are great in the autumn and winter, full of warming orange and spice.”
The craft beer movement continues to be big news, with Waitrose reporting sales of wheat varieties up 21%. Here are a few of our top picks for autumn…
1. Thornbridge Raindrops On Roses, £1.99 for 330ml, Waitrose
“This is the winner of last year’s Great British Home Brew Challenge,” notes Jamie. It’s been brewed by Thornbridge (recipe by Phil Sisson) and is a beautifully refreshing and flavourful example in the Belgian witbier style, infused with rose petals.” Yes really. It’s smooth, mildly hopped, fruity, spicy and aromatic.
2. Rheinbacher German Wheat Beer, £1.25 for 500ml, Aldi – in store only
Aldi only sells one wheat beer, but its a premium brew that uses traditional German methods of fermentation. Cloudy, distinctive and an absolute bargain.
3. Moor Beer Claudia, £2.20 for 330ml, Flavourly.com
“This is a German-style wheat beer with a twist, made in the heart of Bristol,” says self-confessed beer geek, Kevin. “A beautiful blonde and cloudy hefeweizen, with an extra kick of American hoppiness for the modern craft beer drinker.”
4. Blue Moon, £1.70 for 330ml, Asda
Brewed and spiced using Belgian traditions, this unfiltered wheat beer is a delight. Serve with a slice of orange as a garnish, to really bring out the subtle flavours.
5. Uprising White Riot White Pale Ale, £1.99 for 330ml, Waitrose
“This producer’s beers are going from strength to strength, and this one embodies the quality inherent in all of its brews,” says Jamie. “Using both lager and wheat malts, orange peel, Mosaic and Citra hops, it’s delightful and refreshing.” It’s also rather excellent served alongside Mediterranean food, such as tapas.
6. Mikkeller Not Just Another Wit, £3.65 for 330ml, Flavourly.com
Danish brewers Mikkeller don’t do half-measures and this Belgian-style witbier, is the perfect example, according to Kevin. “This infamous imperial wit is full of orange, spice and coriander flavours, and packs a punch at a whopping 7.6% ABV,” he says.
7. Hoegaarden Wheat Beer, £2.50 for 750ml (currently reduced from £3), Asda
One of the best-known wheat beers on the market, Hoegaarden is still a refreshing brew come autumn. Its fruity character, interlaced with subtle spice, offers up an aromatic treat, with hints of clove, coriander and citrus notes. Perfect paired with cheese, cured meats and pickles.
8. And Union Steph Weiss, £2.19 for 330ml, Waitrose
This is a traditionally made, unfiltered Bavarian Weiss beer, but with a modern twist. “It’s a golden colour with a lovely haze, and has aromas of vanilla, all-spice and tropical fruit. Smooth and creamy on the palate, it has a richness to its texture that means it pairs brilliantly with cheesy pasta dishes,” says Jamie.
9. Northern Monk Brew Co. Bombay Dazzler, £2.29 for 330ml, Flavourly.com
For something a bit different, Kevin recommends giving Northern Monk’s Bombay Dazzler a go. “This is a witbier designed specifically to pair with Indian food, so you can expect loads of spice, and flavours of coriander, cardamom and ginger.”
10. Franziskaner Weissibier Wheat Beer, £1.78 for 500ml, Asda
An easy-drinking wheat beer, offering up a fluffy white head and a golden body. Clean tasting with a toasty scent and a touch of honey on the finish, this is a really good-value beer.