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Weisse's Checkered History

Updated: May 3, 2023

Göller's Weisse (wheat beer) is unusual for a German beer: it's an ale, not a lager, and it's made with wheat malt instead of pure barley malt like most German beers. How did the Weisse get its special status?

Let's back up to the Middle Ages. Before German monks discovered lagers, all beers were ales (top fermented). The monastic breweries experimented with cold fermentation and discovered that lagers tasted far smoother than the warm fermented ales. The trend caught on and eventually lagers were all the rage in Bavaria.

The Purity Laws (Reinheitsgebot) of the Duchy of Bavaria made the switch to lagers a necessity. The dukes of Bavaria began to increasingly regulate beer. The only ale-type beer that was eventually permitted to continue on in Bavaria was the Weisse, but even it faced quite a challenge. No one but the the Duke of Bavaria could sell it. At the time Weisse was still popular enough that the Wittelsbach rulers knew they could make a fortune by monopolizing it.

For a long period of time, Bavarians hardly drank Weisse and nearly forgot about it, in part because of its scarcity. But then it made a huge comeback in the 20th Century. Weisse has once again grown into the most popular beer in Bavaria, taking up one-third of the entire beer market.

Weisse production is still regulated in Germany, although anyone can brew it. According to the law, wheat beers must be top-fermented and composed of at least 50% wheat malt. This law has become the standard for wheat beer all over the world.

Göller's Steinhauer Weisse stands out as special even in Bavaria because they also "lager" the ale. After the initial warm fermentation per regulation, Göller brings down the temperature to near-freezing for secondary fermentation and aging. The 6-week aging makes the Göller Weisse smoother and more complex than any other Weisse out there. The Steinhauer is also left unfiltered and "natural." The bubbly effervescence and fruity overtones make it truly refreshing.

Prost to the most ancient beer in the world!

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