In the heat of the summer, few people want to drink a full-bodied beer (except in a chocolate stout beer float).
Summer beers have been brewed for centuries, pioneered by Belgian and German brewers. Recipes were developed to make the beer crisper and more thirst-quenching, with moderate alcohol (lower alcohol drinks are recommended as the temperature rises).
First, a portion of the malted barley—often 50% or more—is replaced with wheat, which adds refreshing acidity and creates a lighter-bodied beer. The result is a category called witbier, weissbier or white beer, referring to the paler color of the brew.
American brewers make many beers based on these two styles.
Get to know wheat beer by having a wheat beer tasting.
You can have a dedicated beer tasting, or combine it with a cookout. It’s a fun and enlightening summer event.
1. Check out the selection at your local market. We find that the best number for a tasting is a dozen, but try fewer if you prefer.
2. Look for imported witbier, weissbier, hefeweizen and kristallweizen. American brews are called wheat beer or summer beer—for example, Samuel Adams Summer Ale. It’s brewed with malted wheat, lemon peel and grains of paradise (melegueta pepper), a rare African spice related to cardamom that was first used for brewing in the 13th century.
3. Set the beers on a table with small tasting cups (two-ounce plastic cups work well).
4. Do some online research and print out descriptions of each beer, including name and price. Tape them onto the table in front of each beer.
5. Provide index cards or blank paper, plus pens, so guests can write down their favorites along with tasting notes.
Catch up on the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.
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