What is the difference between Weissbeer and lager?

Wheat or Barley? The Differences between Weissbier and Lager

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Understanding your beers becomes even more difficult when you start throwing German words into the mix. In the beer world, when you’re perusing the store’s many bottles, you may often see Weissbeer and lagers sitting proudly beside each other. So, what is the difference between Weissbeer and lager? In a nutshell, Weissbier, or wheat beer, is an ale made from wheat. At the same time, Lager is a beer fermented and conditioned at low temperatures. 

A Tale of Two Beers: Weissbier and Lager

Journey with me into the tantalising realm of Weissbier and Lager – two distinct beer styles with roots as rich as their flavours. Their unique brewing processes and choice of ingredients provide different sensory experiences, making them favourites among beer enthusiasts worldwide.

Weissbier, known as ‘white beer’ or ‘wheat beer’, hails from Germany and traditionally contains at least 50% malted wheat. This is a significant shift from most beers, which are predominantly malted barley. Weissbier is an ale created through top fermentation at warmer temperatures. The yeast used is a critical factor, imparting characteristic fruity (banana) and spicy (clove) notes that set Weissbier apart. Its appearance is often hazy due to the yeast and protein remnants left behind after fermentation.

Lagers, on the other hand, follow a different path. These beers are typically brewed with 100% malted barley, making the flavour profile significantly different from Weissbier. Lagers are created through bottom fermentation, often at lower temperatures, over a more extended period, resulting in a clean, crisp, and balanced brew. The yeast strains used for lagers produce fewer fruity and spicy esters, leading to a more mellow beer, focusing more on the malt and hops. In contrast to the cloudy Weissbier, lagers tend to be clear, with colours ranging from pale to amber to dark, depending on the type of malt used.

In essence, Weissbier and lagers are two contrasting symphonies in the grand orchestra of beer. With its fruity and spicy top notes, Weissbier harmonises with the complex ale group. Simultaneously, lagers lend their crisp, clean voice to the beer world’s melody, each a testament to the mastery of the brewer’s art. Whether you favour Weissbier’s compelling depth or lagers’ elegant simplicity, exploring both beers is a sensory journey worth embarking on.

Now that we’ve distinguished between Weissbier and lagers let’s explore the best time to savour a Weissbier.

The Ideal Time for Weissbier

What is the ideal time to drink Weissbeer?
Consider Weissbier for your midday meal

With its enticing blend of fruity and spicy notes, Weissbier is a perfect companion to any time of day. Yet, there are moments when this effervescent German gem can shine even brighter.

Weissbier, traditionally brewed in Bavaria, has a rich history as a breakfast beer. It may sound surprising, but Bavarians once started their day with a glass of Weissbier paired with traditional Weisswurst sausages. This light yet flavourful ale can be a delightful morning indulgence, especially on lazy weekend brunches.

Next, consider Weissbier for your midday meal. Its characteristics and flavours, combined with a low to moderate alcohol content (usually around 4-5% ABV), make it an ideal pairing with various foods. From a zesty salad to a hearty cheese sandwich, Weissbier can enhance your lunch experience and guarantee an afternoon delight.

Now, let’s raise a toast to the ‘golden hour’. As the sun dips and paints the sky with hues of orange and red, a chilled glass of Weissbier can be your perfect companion. The refreshing banana and clove notes make Weissbier a delightful option for early evening relaxation.

Weissbier is also a star player during celebratory events. Its effervescence and unique flavour profile make it an appealing choice for toasts and cheers at parties. 

So, drink it whenever you like, as there is a good enough reason for any time of the day – so cheers to that. Personal preference, after all, is paramount when enjoying a pint. While the above suggestions offer a guide, the ultimate deciding factor should be your taste and mood. So, whether it’s a sunny mid-morning, a quiet evening, or a vibrant celebration, there’s a place for Weissbier. Just remember to savour each sip!

Speaking of savouring Weissbier, let’s discuss the ideal temperature to serve this refreshing beer.

To Chill or Not to Chill: Weissbier Serving Temperature

The serving temperature of a beer can significantly influence your tasting experience. It’s a balancing act – too warm, and the beer might taste flat; too cold, and you might miss out on the complex flavours. So, where does Weissbier fall on this temperature spectrum?

Weissbier is best served slightly cooler than room temperature, typically between 7-10°C (45-50°F). This slightly chilled temperature is ideal for emphasising Weissbier’s fruity and spicy notes without dulling the overall flavour. 

There’s some science behind this. When beer is served too cold, the lower temperature can suppress some of the volatile components responsible for a beer’s aroma. Those aromas – the banana and clove notes in the case of Weissbier – contribute to our perception of flavour. A bit of chill, however, can help sharpen these aromas, making the beer more refreshing.

That being said, it’s not just about the temperature. The glassware you use can also enhance your Weissbier experience. A traditional Weissbier glass, with its tall and curvy shape, is designed to showcase the beer’s lively carbonation and accommodate its thick, frothy head. 

Pouring Weissbier is also an art. Pour two-thirds of the beer gently into a tilted glass, straighten the glass and then pour the rest to form a nice, foamy head. This process helps release the beer’s aromatic compounds, enhancing the flavour.

In the end, personal preference always plays a crucial role. You might prefer your Weissbier a bit cooler or warmer than the recommended range. Experiment with different temperatures to discover what works best for you. After all, enjoying a beer is a personal journey that should be tailored to your taste.

Considering these temperature and serving considerations, it’s clear that while Weissbier and lagers may belong to the same family, their differences offer unique taste experiences.


From the brewing process to the ideal serving temperature, we’ve uncovered the key differences between Weissbier and Lager. Weissbier and Lager are unique in their own ways, each offering a distinct sensory experience. With its fruity and spicy notes, Weissbier is an ale that stands apart from lagers’ clean, crisp taste. Its refreshing nature makes Weissbier a perfect beverage for certain occasions, and its serving temperature can significantly enhance its flavours. So next time you’re asked about the difference between Weissbier and Lager, you’ll be ready with a knowledgeable answer. Prost, as our German cousins might shout!

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