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.
Kristalweizen is generally perceived as more crisp and clean on the palate. 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, which is taller than a pint and considerably wider at the top than it is at the base. Some great Kristalweizen food pairings are salads with fruity or vinaigrette dressings, German entrees, and apple glazed pork.
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!
We are lucky enough to feature a number of Kristalweizen beers. Taste this unique German brew by subscribing to our monthly beer club!