The Beer Is Here
Attractions at Lucky 13 (1301 Park St., 510-523-2118) include an imposing jukebox, a pool table, three tringing pinball machines—and the wheat beer selection. There’s Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse from Germany; Hoegaarden White from Belgium; and if you want to support the red, white and blue—with a dash of European flavor—the Belgian-style Blue Moon White, made by the Molson Coors Brewing Company.
I have long found wheat beer a delightfully refreshing thirst-quencher at the end of a hot summer day. What I didn’t know—and please consult the experts for the subtleties—is that there is more to wheat beer than meets the taste buds.
My understanding goes something like this: German weissbier and Belgian witbier (white beer) are the best known. What identifies wheat beer, as one would expect, is that wheat is used in the brewing process: malted in the case of the German beer and unmalted in the case of Belgian. The German variety is top-fermented, and the Belgian is bottom-fermented, and I’m not going to begin to try to understand that.
Either way, the result is a beverage that is flavorful and light. Probably the fact that wheat beer is usually served with a chunk of lemon (the Blue Moon with orange) adds to what I think of as its summery appeal. And besides the three varieties I found at Lucky 13, I’ve been lucky with all the wheat beers I’ve tried—many from small independent breweries and available on tap in pubs.
—By Wanda Hennig