Why Do Wheat Beers Taste Like Banana?
Wheat beers tend to be a polarising variety of beer. Wheat beers are distinctive in their often hazy appearance, their silky mouthfeel, and their unique flavour profile that can include banana, cloves, and even bubble-gum. Wheat beers are brilliant for summer and have a wide appeal due to their fruity flavours. They were also voted by White Lies brewer Lee Smiley-McAlister as being the most underrated style of beer.
A wheat beer usually contain anywhere between 30-70% wheat malt which gives the beer more protein which, in turn, leads to a thick head and a hazy appearance. Don’t be fooled though, it’s not the wheat content that gives wheat beers their distinctive flavour – it’s the yeast.
Wheat Yeasts tend to produce a great deal of esters and phenols; extra flavours that have come about during the fermentation process. Wheat beers rely on these esters for their banana-like flavour. So there’s the solution: Wheat beers taste like banana because of the esters and phenols produced by the yeast! For this reason it’s important to be careful when pitching your yeast in wheat beers – Make a substantial starter and be sure to use the right amount of yeast. It’s been said before “Brewers don’t make beers – Yeast do. Brewers make wort”. It’s true, look after your yeast!
Some of the best wheat beers in the world are widely available in bottle shops in Australia for reasonable prices. Keep an eye out for Weihenstephaner, Erdinger, and Franziskaner – All excellent examples of the style.