Monday, 17 March 2008

Weissbier and Braunbier

We all know what Weissbier is, don't we? Wheat beer.

Er, no. Weissbier wasn't necessarily brewed from wheat, though many Weissbiers did contain some. The name derives from pre-industrial malting techniques. There were two methods of preparing malt:

  1. air-dried "Luft-Malz" which was pale in colour
  2. kiln-dried "Darr-Malz", which was dark in colour

Beer brewed from Luft-Malz malt was called Weissbier("White Bier") because of its pale colour. That brewed from Darr-Malz was called Braunbier ("Brown Bier") for pretty obvious reasons. Lichtenhainer is a good example of a Weissbier that didn't necessarily contain any wheat.

You may have heard another explanation: that the "Weiss" in "Weissbier" somehow comes from "Weizen", the German word for wheat. I don't believe it for a minute.

4 comments:

Stonch said...

Cats among pigeons again Ronbert, well done and keep it coming.

Jonathan Aichele said...

I know we shouldn't necessarily consider Wikipedia a definitive source, but I'll quote this here all the same:

" Etymologisch leitet sich Weizen vom „Weiß“ des Produkts dieses Getreides, des weißen Mehls,[1] und der hellen Farbe der Weizenfrucht[2] ab."

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weizen


Thoughts?

Ron Pattinson said...

Johnathan, that might be the etymology of Weizen, but Weizen is not the source of Weissbier. It's easy to show Weissbier has nothing to do with wheat, as there were Weisbiers made from 100% barley.

Jonathan Aichele said...

I read you loud & clear, Ron. Thanks for helping clear up the confusion!