Wheat malt is the second most common malted grain used in brewing, after barley malt. Typical wheat-accented brews are German weissbier (also known as hefeweizen or weizenbier), which must contain at least 50% wheat malt by law; German Berliner weisse, a sour, sparkling ale, whose wheat malt portion rarely exceeds 30%; and the more modern “American wheat beer,” which usually contains 10% to 35% malted wheat. Some American craft brewers have recently become enamored of a barley wine variant dubbed “wheat wine,” replacing a large proportion of barley malt in the grist with wheat malt. Because modern wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a relatively high glucan and protein content compared to barley and has no husks—properties that can create lauter problems in the brewhouse—mashes rarely contain more than 70% wheat malt. Some adventurous brewers have made beers from 100% wheat malt, but this feat invariable requires a number of tricks in the brewhouse, as the husk-less grain cannot create its own filter bed through which to run off the wort.
When used in beer, wheat malt imparts a lighter body than does barley malt, often coupled with a gently refreshing touch of acidity.
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