This German wheat beer, sometimes called a Kristal Weissbier, or a Kristallweizen, is simply the filtered version of a Hefeweizen. After fermentation, the brew is filtered to remove the yeast, leaving a crystal clear weizen beer with no cloudiness or hazy character, that now lacks all the yeasty, spicy complexity that was once in the Hefeweizen.
This concept leaves many beer lovers confused as to why anyone would take one of the worlds most treasured beer styles, known for its unique unfiltered body, and cleanse it. The best answer this question has received is that it tastes great, and is less filling, which makes sense, but is still going to irritate Hefeweizen lovers.
Most often, Kristalweizen appears to taste crisp and fresh. It carries aromas and flavors similar to Hefeweizen, including: aromatic and tasting notes of wheat, grass, cloves, spice, citrus, fruit, and banana. To further characterize the German wheat beer's flavor, it is low in hops, exceptionally clean, refreshing, and has a juicy finish.
Due to the nature of the Kristalweizen, and its suspended yeast, it cannot be bottle conditioned. This tends to cause the beer to lose its head quicker, which is unfortunate, because the head might just be the most appealing characteristic, delivering the aromas of banana and citrus. To add to this, some people partake in the trend of adding a lemon to their Kristalweizen, which they may believe enhances the flavor, when in reality it merely adds a bit more citrus, and kills the head—the best part—quicker.
The Kristalweizen ABV is in the 5-5.5% range, and the color varies from a very pale to deep golden color. The best serving glass for this medium bodied brew is a weizen glass, A weizen glass is tall and has a narrow base, and noticeably wider top. Some great Kristalweizen food pairings can range from light and delicate like a salad, to rich and dense like pork. The beer goes well with matches well with fruit so maybe try a fruity dressing on the greens or apple glaze on the meat.
Bavarian made Weihenstephaner is a widely available and popular Kristalweizen in the USA, which has spring like aromas of grapes and vanilla. Even if you're a Hefeweizen beer lover, it doesn't hurt to try a Kristalweizen once!
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