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German Hefeweizen

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Location: German
Category: Ale
BJCP Comparable Category: 10A - Weissbier

Style Description

This is the description of how the German Hefeweizen style of beer should taste, feel and look. However, there may be perfectly fine beers in this style that fall outside of these ranges and descriptions. This information is just to show the most commonly accepted ranges for the German Hefeweizen beer style.

Hefeweizen is a German style wheat beer made with at least 50 percent malted wheat. Hefeweizens are also commonly highly carbonated. These beers are typically (though not always) roused during pouring, and when yeast is present, they will have a yeasty flavor and a characteristically fuller mouthfeel.

Few beer styles have such a distinctive taste as German hefeweizens. They have banana and clove flavors that are easy to pick up when drinking a traditional hefeweizen. These flavors come from the phenolic compounds introduced from the brewer's yeast typically used for this beer style. The common yeast used here is one like Omega's Hefeweizen Ale I, which are known for producing these particular flavors and aromas.

The color of a hefeweizen beer is straw to amber colored, with a very cloudy appearance. This can be a common attribute of wheat beers, but in this case, the yeast used also is the cause of some of the cloudiness.

Note: This description only holds true for a German style hefeweizen. There are American versions that are also called a hefeweizen that commonly do not exhibit the same banana and clove flavors.

  • Color: Straw to amber
  • Body: As with most wheat beers, the body feel of this beer style is medium to full.
  • Malt Flavors & Aromas: Made with high amounts of wheat malt, with the rest made up of pilsner malt. Due to a lower than normal ABV, the grist amount is considered very low to medium-low.
  • Hop Flavors & Aromas: Not present to very low
  • IBUs/Bitterness: Very low
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Hefeweizens have medium-low to medium-high fruity and phenolic attributes are hallmarks of this style. Phenolic attributes such as clove, nutmeg, smoke, and vanilla are present. Banana ester aroma and flavors should be present at low to medium-high levels, unlike most other wheat beer styles. This German style of beer should only have a moderate amount of alcohol content, since the yeast commonly used has a lower than normal attenuation rate. Diacetyl should not be present.
  • Common Ingredients: Old style German beers would typically follow Reinheitsgebot processes, but hefeweizens were one of the first new age beers in German to buck this trend. When following German brewing tradition for this style, at least 50% of the grist must be malted wheat, although some versions use up to 70%; the remainder is typically Pilsner malt. A decoction mash is traditional, although modern brewers typically don’t follow this practice. Weizen ale yeast produces the typical spicy (clove) and fruity (banana) character. High fermentation temperatures can affect the balance and produce off-flavors.
  • Commercial Examples: Hefeweizens are a very common German beer style. Some of the more popular beers from German breweries are Ayinger Bräu Weisse, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen Naturtrüb, Schneider Weisse Unser Original, and Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier.

Brewing Properties of German Hefeweizen

These are the functional brewing properties of German Hefeweizen beers, as descided by the Brewers Association. These guidelines reflect, as accurately as possible, the historical significance, authenticity or a common profile in the current commercial beer market.

ABV
The alcohol by volume is shows the amount of alcohol this style of beer should have.
4.9 - 5.6%
Bitterness
The International Bittering Units (IBU) scale is used to approximately quantify the actual (not perceived) bitterness of beer.
10 - 15 IBUs
SRM
SRM is a scale for measuring the color intensity of a beer. Low SRM grains impart a pale straw color while higher values mean it will add a darker color to the wort. Learn more »
3 - 9 SRM
(6 - 18 EBC)
Original Gravity
Original Gravity (OG) is a measure of the sugar content in the wort before alcoholic fermentation has started to produce the beer.
1.047 - 1.056
Final Gravity
The Final Gravity (FG) is how much sugar is left over in the beer when fermentation is complete.
1.008 - 1.016

If you see an error in our data, please let us know!

Based on Brewers Association 2020 Beer Style Guidelines with changes. Used with permission of Brewers Association.