We already recognized Mexican beer for its outstanding achievement in the category of light, vacuous summer-drinking pleasure. But those cervezas amount to only one small sliver of the summer beer pie. The fact is there are lots of beers with more flavor and more brewing artistry that fall into the summer category. And a good many of them are wheat beers.
Wheat beers—Hefeweizen in German (hefe = yeast, weizen = wheat)—are great summer beers because most of them are highly effervescent and have a light, floral, and slightly honeyed flavor profile that just seems to perfectly complement the image of a lazy summer's afternoon. They're brewed with the standard malted barley and with usually 50%-70% malted wheat, which makes for a highly carbonated, frothy and often cloudy beer.
SF Breweries know the attraction of a wheat beer come summer. Here are my three favorite local wheats.
- Hell or High Water Watermelon Wheat Beer—21st Amendment Brewery -- a light wheat with just a hint of flavor from a fermentation with fresh watermelon -- also comes in a can available throughout the Bay Area
- Half-Step Hefeweizen—Magnolia Pub and Brewery -- A gorgeous summer brew with notes of lemon, orange, banana and spice -- a good morning beer, if you will
- Anchor Summer Beer— Anchor Brewery -- Considered the first American wheat of modern times, this thirst-quenching beer is a top summer quaffer, goes down almost too easily
Oh—and on the question of dropping a lemon into the wheat beer as is commonly done here in the US. Beer geeks don't approve and it's apparently not done in Hefeweizen's home, Germany, so if you 're looking to be proper, it's probably not a good idea. Then again, if you like the flavor and don't care what people thing, go right ahead!