By Michael Blakley
Every other week we explore one of the many varieties of beer you’re likely to come across in Berlin. We’ll explain its distinctive characteristics and teach you a little brewing history. Soon you’ll be impressing your friends with your ability to work the subject of yeast into just about any conversation. Finally we’ll give you a few suggestions on where you can do some research on your own. That’s right. Homework. Delicious, delicious homework.
The taste: low hops, high yeast flavor with notes of clove or banana
The color: cloudy, amber
The body: thick, high carbonation, with frothy head
Full bodied and slightly sweet, Hefeweizen, or simply Hefe, are a popular style of unfiltered wheat beer. Anyone on the gluten-free diet bandwagon should steer clear of this one. A Hefe is a liquid loaf of bread in a glass. And just like any decent bakery, you’ll find it comes in wide variety. Popular brands include Erdinger, Paulaner, Weinstephaner and Franziskaner. Also worth a try is Hefe’s filtered cousin, Kristallweizen, which is essentially a lighter bodied version.
The top fermentation method of brewing wheat beers like Hefe is quite possibly the oldest style of beer brewing still popular today. Although well known internationally, Hefe’s biggest fans come from southern Germany, particularly Bavaria, where you can still see the older generation enjoying one for breakfast. A long tradition of brewing in this region has produced strict laws that protect the domestic market and ensure quality. We’d expect nothing less from a place where beer for breakfast is considered normal. The Reinheitsgebot, or purity law, essentially spells out the conditions and ingredients allowed in the brewing process. Look for this seal of approval on the bottle, and then take a look at the ingredients, often simply water, wheat and yeast.
When doing your homework, pay close attention to how bartenders pour a wheat beer. There’s a special swirl they employ to make sure all the sediments end up in your glass instead of stuck to the bottom of the bottle. Also, it should be served in a tall curvy glass with a heavy base so for animated toasting, clink with the bottoms. Here are three great choices here in Berlin to try a properly poured Hefeweizen beer.
A long time partner with Fat Tire Bike Tours, this beer garden has long been a favorite of our guests taking the All-In-One City bike tour. Friendly staff, picturesque location and delicious eats are just a few of the many reasons why we’ve heard people rave about this place for years. Location: Müller-Breslau-Straße, in the Tiergarten, near Zoo Station.
This classic restaurant and micro-brewery brings traditional Bavaria to the ultra modern, reinvented heart of Berlin. Located under the futuristic dome of the Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz, you will feel like you’ve entered a time machine once you’ve stepped inside Lindenbräu’s rustic walls. Come for the specialty beers made on-site and be sure to stay until after sunset when the Sony Center’s impressive lighting comes on. Surely even more impressive after a beer or two. Location: Bellevuestraße 3 – 5, in the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz.
Try one of the well crafted beers on tap here from master brewer Marcus Wanke. Located in the cozy neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg, this small space is perfect for the serious foodie who wants to take in a taste of local flavor. If you don’t fill up on wheat beer, take a bite sized tour of southern German cuisine by ordering a few selections from their Bavarian tapas menu. Location: Metzer Str. 30.