Aren’t they the same, a white beer and a weizen? Not quite. Belgian white beer is brewed with wheat and the German word for wheat is… indeed; Weizen! Of course, they are both wheat beers (in that they are made from wheat) but there are essential differences between these beer styles. Here is how to differentiate the two.

What are the big differences?

First things first, to avoid any confusion:

Bare this in mind, as the names are used interchangeably.

Simply put, weizen is German and white beer is Belgian. There are key differences between each beer style: 

  • For a white beer, brewers use un-malted wheat, while for a weizen they use 50% wheat malt.
  • White beer also contains less wheat than weizen, which influences the overall taste profile.
  • Both beers are top-fermented, but a weizen is brewed with special weizen yeast. This yeast is what makes those characteristic clove and banana flavours.
  • A weizen beer complies with the Reinheitsgebot (the German purity law), forbidding it to be brewed with "anything other than water, barley, and hops". That’s no herbs and no fruits. All of those flavours and the soft, sweet and slightly fruity character, come just from the yeast.
  • You will generally not find this banana flavour in a white beer. Flavours that are more typical for the Belgian white beer are citrus and coriander. During the brewing process, the brewer adds coriander seeds and curaçao peels, which are the peels of a bitter orange.

Wheat beers at Beerwulf

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What is Belgian white beer?

White beers have been brewed as early as the 14th century in Belgium. When you see a beer described as “white” eg, White IPA — that will mean that there is a decent portion of wheat in it.

White beers we recommend...

Grisette Blanche Bio is a must try - It's tasty, fresh and thirst quenching and also organic! Affligem Blanche is fruity and floral with distinctive orange peel and coriander aromas, and available on 5L keg!

What is a German wheat beer?

This style of beer originated in Bavaria, Germany. A Weissbier, despite its name, isn’t always white in colour; it can also be golden and dark. Weissbiers are characterised by a complex flavour and aroma with fruity notes. There are also both clear and cloudy varieties.

Wheat beers we recommend...

Well-known wheat beers are brewed by breweries such as Schneider, Paulaner, and Weihenstephan. They are a must for anyone new to the weizen scene. Erdinger is a prime example of brewing with only the finest ingredients. On The SUB, you can enjoy the Austrian Edelweiss Hefetrüb.

What is Hefeweizen?

It is important to note that wheat beers include various substyles, with the most common being the Hefeweizen ("yeast wheat"). Notable examples include Paulaner Hefeweissbier, Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbeer, Sierra Nevada Kellerweis and Erdinger Weissbier.

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How to serve wheat beers

White beer is best served from 3-5 degrees Celsius in a thick and sturdy glass - a Hoegaarden glass is perfect. A weizen is served slightly warmer, at a temperature of 6 to 8 degrees Celsius in a tall, narrow glass which flares outwards (think of a Paulaner or Erdinger glass). Read more about beer glasses here.

Which do you prefer?

...Well, that’s up to you. These beer styles are two sides of the same coin, but which has the edge is completely a matter of taste. To learn more about how to differentiate the two, the best thing to do is start tasting.