One of the styles of beers that is often overlooked is the 'wheat beer'. And in my opinion this is a shame because us British seem to be able to provide some excellent examples of the genre. Like many beers, a lot depends on the brewer's skill or the drinker's own taste as to what is good or what is less good but when a good brewer gets it right there is no better beer for a summer's day.
The foreign standard seems to be 'Hoegarden' with its tart wheat taste and hints of coriander and orange overtones, an excellent fall back if this is your thing. But it is foreign and kegged so if you've never tried an English wheat beer, why not hunt them down? I am sure the variety will impress.
One of my favourites is Mordue 'A'l Wheat Pet'. This is a superb example of a balanced beer with a fresh taste and an almost flowery background with plenty of fruit. At 4.1% an excellent session beer. Locally 'Little Valley' produce a slightly stronger brew that is more reminiscent of a foreign 'wit bier'. 'Hebdens Wheat' uses Eastern European hops and a touch of coriander gives a hazy wheat beer with lemony hints. It is not hard to find around this part of the world and is fairly widely available in bottles too. If you can track it down Brodies' 'Whitechapel Weizen' shows how good a wheat beer can be with subtle notes and a massive mouthfeel from the wheat. A classic.
And talking of classics, one that I have recently encountered is Abbeydale 'Wheat Beer'. At 4.5% it's not especially strong but a beer that has a unique flavour. Not real bitterness there but a massive grainy taste unlike many wheat beers, and in my case, dangerously drinkable. Another wheat beer that has been brewed this year for the first time in many is Pictish 'White Out'. I have yet to sample this but the 6% gravity and the Pictish pedigree is making my mouth water at the very thought.
If you thought wheat beer was just another foreign beer, then think again. And try it. Then try another. I think I may.