Until the beginning of the 16th century, the majority beers were dark in color because of the difficulty in producing pale malt, and any beer that turned out to be pale was called Weissbier simply for its color (“weiss” means white in German, and “bier” means–you guessed it–beer). Beginning this time, however, eastern Bavarian brewmasters technological advances made it possible to commercially produce pale brews to compliment the traditional darker German dunkels, alts, and lagered marzens. Some of these pale beers–made with pale wheat malt–became very popular summer ales in parts of Bavaria, despite institutional resistance from authorities who passed regulations attempting to relegate the more-prone-to-failure wheat crop to bread production instead of beer production. For instance, in 1447, the Munich city council even felt it had to forbid wheat beer brewing altogether. The councilors decreed that, within their jurisdiction, brewers could henceforth use only barley—a rule that Duke Wilhelm IV extended to all of Bavaria 69 years later, in the now-famous Bavarian Beer Purity Law of 1516. Weissbiers brewed with wheat continued to be produced by several grandfathered corporations that held a monopoly on production until the invention of refrigeration and the ability to produce cold-fermenting lagers year round, when ales like the Hefeweizen–which translates literally as “yeast wheat,” or a wheat beer that is unfiltered so the yeast is still in suspension in the beer–fell out of favor in Germany and nearly became extinct. The style has achieved a renaissance in the last 60 years, however, and there are now more than 1,000 Bavarian Weissbier brands on the market.
Gold Dust Woman is named after the classic Fleetwood Mac song, and just like that song’s mysterious lyrics, our Hefeweizen is opaque, fermented with a low-flocculating strain of yeast that has been used by one particular brewery in Bavaria for over one thousand years. When served in appropriate glassware–typically a tall, slender, curved weizen glass which gives plenty of room for head development–this beer’s natural crisp effervescence, significant amounts of pale German pilsen and wheat, and unique yeast strain make for not only a visually appealing brew, but also a soft, refreshing, moderately tart and spicy beer that’s as refreshing as they come.
Oh, and though it’s served in some parts of the world with a lemon or orange slice, this is most certainly not a Bavarian custom, nor does our beer require the assistance of any citrus to taste satisfying and refreshing. So leave the lemon at home!