One of the styles of beer I like the most is a beer brewed with wheat. This particular style can go by many different names, with each one having a slightly different type of flavor.
For example, a Weissbier (or Weizen) is a Bavarian style beer where they replace most or all of the malted barley with malted wheat. Generally, these have hints of banana and clove flavors, owing to the style of the yeast being used. The name “weissbeer” means “white beer”, and it is called that because of the pale appearance of the beer.
Among the weizens you also have the style known as Hefeweizen. This is an unfiltered version, with a very cloudy appearance, because it still contains a significant proportion of the yeast used to brew the beer. This adds a distinctive flavor, although because of that, the initial taste can sometimes seem a bit rough. It is fairly common (though disputed by enthusiasts) to add lemon to the beer, to help with that initial sharp taste of the beer. The hefeweizen style is fairly low in hops and usually highly carbonated, to help offset the sweetness of the malt and provide balance.
And then there is the style known as Witbier, which is also an unfiltered wheat, but flavored with “gruit” instead of hops. Gruit is generally a mix of coriander, orange, and sometimes a little bit of hops as well. Witbiers therefore have a fruity flavor, and can also be slightly sour.
One of my favorite wheat beers though, doesn’t much fall into these categories.
Technically, I suppose you could consider Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat to be a hefeweizen, except that it’s made in Kansas City, and probably doesn’t follow all the same guidelines as your more German hefe’s would follow. So it fits into the category of American Wheat Ale, realistically. It it a blend of a number of these styles, as it uses both malted and unmalted wheats, three different varieties of hops, and even though it is unfiltered, it has a relatively low cloudiness.. unless you deliberately stir up the yeast which have settled to the bottom, which you should absolutely do.
When bottled, Boulevard takes the extra step of adding small amounts of live yeast to the bottle, to give it a small amount of bottle fermentation during shipping, and to leave the yeast in to get that extra cloudy profile and flavor that is just awesome.
It is a very popular beer in the midwest region, and can be found on tap in all the states surrounding Missouri and Kansas. You can sometimes find it on tap elsewhere as well.. I’ve seen it in Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA, but generally speaking you will only find it elsewhere in bottles. This is significant because it’s a different beer on tap than in bottles, and though similar, the difference between the yeast in the keg and the bottle fermented yeast is a big one. If you find it on tap, try it. And yes, you’ll probably want a slice of lemon. Not orange. Putting a slice of orange in a wheat beer is blasphemy.
Also, recently Boulevard announced that they’re teaming up (or being sold, depends on who you ask) with Duvel. I am uncertain whether this is a good or a bad thing. If it means improved distribution channels for Boulevard, so I can finally get it on tap regularly here, then I’m all for it. I don’t expect Duvel to try to change the beer though. You don’t mess with a damn good thing.