Another way of saying what a Weizenbock is?
A caramel, malty, bready Hefeweizen on steroids. Let that simmer in your brain for a bit. As you read on in this guide, you’ll find out why.
Is Weizenbock a Lager or an Ale?
Compared to all members of the Bock family, a Weizenbock is an ale. It uses a top-fermenting Weizen ale yeast strain for fermentation to occur.
In addition, wheat beers are generally classified as ales. It’s not common to think that a Weizenbock is a lager since it belongs to the Bock family.
However, the process in which a Weizenbock is brewed leans more towards how an ale is brewed.
But wait – is that all there is a Weizenbock being an ale?
Here’s something you need to understand.
You can’t always tell the difference between an ale or a lager through its appearance or flavor. The main difference that separates a lager from an ale is the yeast strain used.
For lagers, fermentation has to happen in colder temperatures; hence the term bottom-fermenting. For ales, it’s the opposite. Fermentation must happen in warmer temperatures and is referred to as top-fermenting.
What Type of Beer Is a Weizenbock?
A Weizenbock is a German-style-Bock wheat beer. It’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it?
Here’s an easier way to put it:
- Weizen: translates to wheat
- Bock: A German-style lager with dominant malt flavor (also known as a strong beer)
Put those two together and that’s what defines a Weizenbock. But, just barely.
In the Bock family, you have several types of Bock beers too, such as:
- Traditional Bock
Although Weizenbocks are part of the Bock family, it’s safe to say that a Weizenbock is the black sheep that stands out.
Why? For starters, a Weizenbock is classified as an ale. Compared to its siblings, the entire Bock family are all lagers.
When you think of a Weizenbock, you think of a Bock and, at the same time, a wheat beer. To be more specific, you think of a Hefeweizen.
How does that happen?
Glad you asked.
A Weizenbock will have the characteristics of a Bock and a Hefeweizen. Put simply, you get a malt-centric flavor profile with the clove and banana ester notes you’d get in a Hefeweizen.
Others might describe a Weizenbock as a bigger Dunkelweizen. Here’s a quick breakdown of what a Dunkelweizen is:
- Dunkel: A dark German lager with smooth malty flavors.
- Weizen: also referred to as wheat
Put these two together, and here’s what you get: a dark German lager with sweet maltiness, chocolatey notes, and banana & clove ester notes.
Now, imagine a beefed-up version of that. That’s a Weizenbock. Or rather, one way of defining it.
However, the best way to understand a Wezienbock is through its flavor profile and style guidelines. In the next sections, that’s what you’ll find.
What Makes a Weizenbock?
There are 2 primary aspects that make a Weizenbock:
- Wheat: A lot of wheat has to be used when brewing a Weizenbock. In fact, the German Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) requires Weizenbocks to be made with at least 50% wheat.
- Maltiness: Because Weizenbocks are still a type of Bock, expect it to be malt-centric. In other words, a Weizenbock will have a rich malty flavor, hands down.
Yeast also plays a key role in a Weizenbock. Unlike Bocks which use a bottom-fermenting yeast strain, Weizenbocks stray from the recipe.
A Weizenbock will use a Weizen ale yeast strain. The yeast strain is crucial in providing banana, clove, and vanilla flavors.
What Does a Weizenbock Taste Like?
A Weizenbock will have a bready, malty, and toasty flavor profile. Carmel and toffee notes may be present as well, along with dark fruits like plum, raisin, or grape.
Aside from its bready notes, you should also taste low to medium banana, clove, and vanilla flavors. Finally, there should be a noticeable taste of wheat.
What Are the Style Guidelines of a Weizenbock?
One of the best ways to understand any beer is through its style guidelines. When you’re trying to tell the difference between a NEIPA and a Hazy IPA, it’s easy to think they’re one and the same. In many ways, they are. However, style guidelines are crucial especially if you want to brew one at home.
The guidelines shown below can also be found in the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) Style guidelines.
A Weizenbock’s SRM ranges from 6 to 25. There’s a good explanation for that.
Weizenbocks come in 2 versions: a pale Weizenbock and a dark Weizenbock.
A dark Weizenbock will have an amber to reddish-brown appearance. In contrast, a pale Weizenbock will have a sunny-golden to honey-amber appearance.
The head of a pale Weizenbock is usually off-white while a dark Weizenbock will have a light tan color for its head.
It’s important to note that both pale and dark versions are unfiltered styles. After all, a Weizenbock is a wheat beer, so cloudiness is part of the style.
The cloudiness you see in a Weizenbock is not only because it was unfiltered. The high amounts of wheat used and yeast sediment contributes to its cloudiness.
A Weizenbock’s flavor depends on the version that’s brewed; however, both are similar in some ways. Both the pale and dark versions of a Weizenbock will have a malt-centric flavor profile.
But a dark version will lean more towards richer and toasty breadiness with some caramel flavor notes. The pale version imparts a sweeter, grainier breadiness and lighter toasty notes.
Of course, wheat should also be noticeable in both versions. It goes without saying that wheat is a key flavor component to a Weizenbock’s flavor – pale or dark.
More importantly, yeast character such as banana, clove, and vanilla should be present. Although present, the yeast or ester notes shouldn’t dominate the maltiness of a Weizenbock.
For a dark Weizenbock, you might be able to taste dark fruit notes as well. Some of these include raisin, plum, prune, and grape. Finally, there shouldn’t be any hop flavor or aroma.
Hoppiness is not a key flavor component in a Weizenbock style. Sure – you might be able to taste some bitterness in a Weizenbock. However, this bitterness is mostly used to add balance and make the sweetness more noticeable.
Malt aroma takes the center stage here, obviously.
Much similar to the flavor profile, a pale Weizenbock will have rich and sweet grainy breadiness with light toast. Darker Weizenbocks have a rich and deep malty (sometimes mild roasted) toasted aroma.
Wheat is also present in the aroma for both versions. Other aroma notes include the following:
Weizenbocks have a medium-full to full body, medium to high carbonation, and a creamy texture. This is perfect since a Weizenbock will have a high ABV between 6.5% to 9%.
Is Weizenbock a German Wheat Beer or a Bock?
You could say a Weizenbock leans towards both a German wheat beer and a Bock. How so?
For starters, you’re already aware that a Weizenbock is a type of Bock beer, right? Bocks are also German-style beers, which makes a Weizenbock a German-style beer too.
Since Weizenbocks are the wheat version of Bock beer, it falls that a Weizenbock can be considered a German wheat beer as well.
In fact, Weizenbocks are one of the most common German wheat beers today along with 2 others:
- Dunkel Weissbier
But how do these two German wheat beers differ?
First, a Weissbier. These are also referred to as German white beers. Just like a Weizenbock, Weissbiers use a ton of wheat as part of the grain bill requirements. It’s not a true wheat beer if it doesn’t have at least 50% wheat.
Its flavors are similar to what you’d find in a Hefeweizen:
- Bubble gum
- Spicy notes
Weissbiers also has several versions, such as the Hefeweizen and Kristalweizen. What makes a Kristalweizen so different is that it’s filtered to add clarity. That means it’s not cloudy as you’d expect from a wheat beer.
In addition, Kristalweizens don’t have the same character as a Hefeweizen.
As for a Dunkel Weissbier, think of a Weissbier except it’s dark-colored. From the word “Dunkel”, which translates to “dark”, a Dunkel Weissbier is a dark German wheat beer.
But that’s not all there is to it.
Pale versions of wheat beer will use more Pilsner malt to give a golden or straw-yellow color. Dark versions, like a Dunkel Weissbier, will use more Munich and Vienna malt. So, will this alter its flavor?
Yes, it will. In fact, Dunkel Weissbiers only have a hint of banana or clove estery notes. What dominates in a Dunkel Weissbier is its rich malty flavor along with a light milk-chocolate flavor note.
When you compare a Weissbier and Dunkel Weissbier to a Weizenbock, what do you get?
Against the two German wheat beers, Weizenbocks will have the highest alcohol percentage. In other words, they’re a lot stronger than your Weissbiers or Dunkel Weissbiers.
What’s also interesting is that Weizenbocks can either be pale or dark in color. The malt flavor is also more complex.
What Is the Difference Between a Weizenbock and Hefeweizen?
A Weizenbock is a stronger Hefeweizen. Not just in alcohol strength or percentage, but also in malt and fruity flavors.
Weizenbocks may also come off as creamy, but that mostly depends on the brewer. It’s important to note that Hefeweizens are lighter-bodied. Although both a Weizenbock and Hefeweizen share the same cloudy appearance, there’s still a difference. Mainly because Weizenbocks can also be dark-colored.
Not to mention, the flavor for a dark Weizenbock is maltier and richer. Dark Weizenbocks will also have a hint of banana, clove, or vanilla, but it can also impart some of the following flavor notes:
Ultimately, if you compare a Hefeweizen to the pale version of a Weizenbock, then…
A Weizenbock is stronger in alcohol strength, malt, and fruitiness.
A Hefeweizen against a dark version of a Weizenbock, the difference is vast. The malt used and flavor will be different. Not to mention, it’s quite clear that the appearance will also be different.
Is a Weizenbock a Dunkelweizen?
In some ways, a Weizenbock is a Dunkelweizen. But overall, a Weizenbock differs from a Dunkelweizen in one way: strength.
Think of a Weizenbock as a beefed-up version of a Dunkelweizen. Flavor-wise, both are similar. You still get that rich maltiness with some chocolate or caramel notes. But take note, this is a dark Weizenbock here. That means a pale Weizenbock will be very different from a Dunkelweizen.
A Dunkelweizen has a hint of clove and banana flavor notes, but above all, it uses more roasted malt. As a result, the flavor profile leans more towards caramel or roasted malt notes. In contrast, a pale Weizenbock has a sweet grainy, or bready maltiness flavor profile.
Furthermore, the clove, banana, and vanilla flavor notes are more prominent in a pale Weizenbock.
How Does a Weizenbock Differ From Bock Beer?
A Weizenbock differs from Bock beer in just 2 words: wheat version.
There’s a reason why Weizenbocks are still a part of the Bock family. It’s important to understand that Bocks are regarded as strong beers, which is a quality Weizenbocks have.
And then there’s the malt-centric flavor. Bocks and even a Weizenbock will have a malt-dominant flavor profile. Even the aroma will impart a malty or wheat-like smell.
This is the simplest way to understand what differentiates a Weizenbock from a Bock. It’s the wheat version of Bock beer.
Is a Weizenbock a Doppelbock?
If a Doppelbock and a Hefeweizen had a child, you’d get a Weizenbock.
Hefeweizen for the wheat and banana or clove flavor notes. And a Doppelbock for the maltiness and alcohol percentage.
If you compare the ABV of a Doppelbock to a Weizenbock, both are actually within the same range. In fact, a Weizenbock will share a lot of similar qualities to a Doppelbock.
However, a Doppelbock isn’t wheat beer, first and foremost. Second, a Doppelbock doesn’t have a banana, clove, or vanilla flavor note. And third, the yeast used to make a Doppelbock is different from the Weizen ale yeast strain of a Weizenbock.
Put simply, a Weizenbock isn’t a Doppelbock.
What Is the Difference Between a Pale Weizenbock and Dark Weizenbock?
You can already tell the difference between a pale and dark Weizenbock: appearance. A pale Weizenbock has a sunny-golden to honey-amber appearance.
A dark Weizenbock, on the other hand, will have a dark-amber to reddish-brown appearance. Here’s a table to help you differentiate between the two easily:
|Differences||Pale Weizenbock||Dark Weizenbock|
|Appearance||Sunny golden or honey amber||Dark amber to reddish or dark brown|
|Malt||Uses Pilsner malt heavily||Uses Munich and Vienna malt more|
|Flavor||Lighter toasted notes, malt profile is sweeter and grainier. More prominent vanilla, clove, and banana ester notes.||Richer maltiness, toasty, caramel, or chocolate notes. Also has dark fruit flavors such as plum, prune, raisin, and grape.|
|Aroma||Sweet grainy malt and light toast aromas||Rich and deep maltiness and roasted aromas|
How to Serve a Weizenbock
For Weizenbocks and wheat beers in general, it’s always best to serve it at a temperature between 45°F to 50°F (7°C to 10°C).
Weizenbocks are German wheat beers best enjoyed cold rather than warm. However, if you’re drinking a pale Weizenbock, it might be best to serve it a little colder. Probably around 40°F to 45°F (4°C to 7°C).
A pale Weizenbock will have a slightly lighter and sweeter body than a dark Weizenbock. So, colder temperatures make it taste better.
What Glass for Weizenbock?
You can use a Weizen or Snifter glass for a Weizenbock. A Snifter glass is short-stemmed and has a wide bottom along with a narrow tip.
In fact, a Snifter glass is the same glass used for Brandy. When pouring a Weizenbock into a glass, it’s important to include all the sediment as well.
For proper pouring, 3/4 of the bottle’s contents are poured into the glass first. Then, you give your bottle a swirl to collect all the sediment. Finally, you pour the remaining contents from the bottle into your glass.
Now, is it necessary to pour the sediment into your glass?
For a wheat beer, yes. It’s not like an IPA where you don’t have to drink the sediment. With a wheat beer, you also have the option to drink a sediment-free wheat beer. But that would mean compromising its flavor too.
Wheat beer has sediment because it’s also part of the flavor experience. As hard as that is to believe, think of it this way.
Wheat beer will use a certain yeast strain to impart the banana, clove, or vanilla ester notes. And a Weizenbock will have that same yeast strain as well.
Refusing to pour any of the sediment into your glass would just be well…not as good.
You wouldn’t be able to entirely taste the quality of a Weizenbock.
How to Brew Weizenbock
When you’re brewing a Weizenbock, the grain bill is the most important part. If you don’t taste the wheat or malt in a Weizenbock, it’s not a Weizenbock.
According to German Purity Law, a true wheat beer should be made with at least 50% wheat. Some might go higher and reach 70% wheat, but 50% is a good starting point.
As a homebrewer, you aren’t required to use 50%, but to keep the Weizenbock style authentic, don’t go below that range.
Once you have your wheat, it all depends on whether you want to make a pale or dark Weizenbock. If you’re brewing a pale Weizenbock, you should go for Pilsner malt. About 25% Pilsner malt should be good and 50% wheat. Then, you can add 10% to 15% Munich malt and another 10% for your crystal malt.
If you’re brewing a dark Weizenbock, you can forego Pilsner malt completely. Instead, you can use Munich and Vienna malt for up to 40% of your entire grain bill. 50% will be for the wheat and the remaining 10% will be your specialty malt.
Take note, though, you should strictly use only 2 or 3 specialty malts. Here’s a list of specialty malts you can use.
- Special B
- Honey Malt
- Chocolate Rye
- Pale Chocolate
- Midnight Wheat
- Medium Crystal
- Chocolate Wheat
Can You Do Extract Brewing for a Weizenbock?
You can do extract brewing for a Weizenbock, but you’ll need to add specialty malts. Why? Mainly so you can get a good malt complexity in your finished beer.
For extract grains, you should use between 50% to 70%, then add your specialty malts. You can use Pilsner malt extract, Vienna malt extract, or Munich malt extract. Interestingly, Bavarian-wheat dried-malt extract is also a good option.
If it’s your first time brewing a Weizenbock, it’s probably best to try all-grain first. But if you want to give extract malt brewing a shot, read Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff. There should be a lot of recipes online as well that brew with extract malts.
What Hops Should I Use for a Weizenbock?
Hops only contribute a light bitterness in a Weizenbock style. Don’t go all out with any bittering or high-alpha-acid hops. It would be inappropriate to do so.
Remember, Weizenbocks should have a malt-centric flavor profile.
That means hops are only added to make a small appearance and then fade into the background. For a Weizenbock, it’s good to use German hop varieties, specifically Hallertau.
Bittering hops are worth a shot, but in small amounts only. You should aim for 15 to 30 IBUs in a Weizenbock. Here are good hop options to try:
- German Magnum
- Hallertau Mittelfruh
- German Northern Brewer
Mash Temp for Weizenbock
For mashing, a single-step infusion mash at 153°F (67ºC) should be good. Then, sparge with water at a temperature of 170°F (77ºC).
Some might opt for a decoction mash; however, if it’s still your first time, it’s best to stick to a single-infusion mash. The idea of a decoction mash is to take 1/3 of your total mash, heat it to a boil, and add it back to your mash.
With a decoction mash, the biggest advantage you can get in this case would be malt complexity. It should also help in breaking down any starches.
But take note. A single-step infusion mash should give your Weizenbock good malt complexity. Performing a decoction mash means a longer brew and it can be frustrating if it’s your first time.
For now, it might be best to do a single-infusion mash first. Why? So that you have a good baseline of how a Weizenbock should taste. Once you’ve been able to achieve that, you can experiment with different brewing techniques and ingredients.
After all, it’s important to start with the fundamentals first. If you don’t know what a Weizenbock truly tastes like, how else will you be able to tweak and improve it, right?
Finally, make sure your kettle boil lasts for 60 to 90 minutes. If you’re using Pilsner malt, a 90-minute kettle boil should suffice. Why 90 minutes? Mainly to avoid DMS (dimethyl sulfide) which adds an off-flavor to your Weizenbock.
Good Yeast Starters for Weizenbock
Since Weizenbocks use ale yeast strains, a German Weizen ale yeast strain is your best option. Here are a few good yeast starters to use:
- Hefeweizen Ale (WLP300)
- Bavarian Weizen (WLP351)
- Bavarian Wheat (Wyeast 3638)
- Bavarian Lager (Wyeast 2206)
- Weihenstephan Weizen (Wyeast 3068)
- Mangove Jack’s Bavarian Wheat (M20)
How to Ferment a Weizenbock
Ideally, the fermentation of a Weizenbock should be around 62°F (17°C). Primary fermentation should last at least 7 to 10 days followed by secondary for 10 to 14 days. Once fermentation starts at 62°F (17°C), let it naturally rise to 70°F (21°C).
It’s also worth noting you can age your Weizenbock after fermentation. Some homebrewers include this as an additional step. However, it’s not necessary to do so. Cooling it to about 40°F (4°C) for 1 to 2 weeks should be a good range for aging your Weizenbock.
Finally, aim for a final gravity between 1.015 to 1.022.
From there, you can carbonate your Weizenbock in a keg or a bottle. Whichever you choose is fine. Carbonation should take at least 2 weeks. If you want to let it carbonate longer, you can do so as well. Some carbonate as long as 1 to 2 months even.
How Long to Age Weizenbock?
Some might say you can age a Weizenbock for several years; however, that’s not always the best case. If you age a Weizenbock between 3 to 6 months, it should be fine.
Although, the banana and clove ester notes may diminish during the aging process. Instead, you get a maltier flavor. You can try aging a Weizenbock in a cellar away from light; however, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the results you were expecting.
Some homebrewers even mentioned tasting a slight vegetative note after 3 months of aging.
Overall, it’s worth trying to age a Weizenbock. But there’s no assurance that it will improve the same way as a Trappist ale, for example.
Try drinking a Weizenbock a few days after bottling. Then compare that to a Weizenbock that’s aged for 5 to 6 months. There’s a noticeable difference that some may or may not enjoy.
It’s also worth noting that 1 month should be enough to bring out the most of your banana or clove flavor notes. This can lead to an interesting experiment where you have a Weizenbock that hasn’t aged. Then, a Weizenbock that’s aged after 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months.
Since it’s your first time brewing a Weizenbock, here’s a quick sample recipe that might work for you:
- 5 lbs. (4.3 kg) Wheat
- 7 lbs. (3.2 kg) Munich malt
- 3 lbs. (136 g) Chocolate malt
- 1 oz. (28 g) Hallertau hops added 90 minutes into the boil
- 25 oz. (7 g) Hallertau hops added at the end of the boil
- Hefeweizen Ale yeast (WLP300) or Bavarian Lager (Wyeast 2206)
- 2/3 cup (85 g) corn sugar (for priming during carbonation)
Once you have all these ingredients, proceed to mashing at a temperature of 152°F (66°C) or 153°F (67°C) for 60 minutes. Then sparge at a temperature of 170°F (81.8°C). Make sure to add rice hulls to prevent a stuck sparge.
At the start of your kettle boil, add your 1 oz. (28 g) Hallertau hops. After your kettle boil, add your 0.25 oz. (7 g) Hallertau hops.
From here, pitch your yeast starter and prep your wort for fermentation. Ferment your wort at a temperature of 62°F (17°C) then let the temperature slowly rise to 70F (21°C). Your fermentation period should last about a week, followed by a secondary fermentation for 10 to 14 days.
Pay attention to your final gravity too. A good final gravity range for a Weizenbock is between 1.015 to 1.022.
Once you’ve completed fermentation, you’re free to age your beer at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) for 2 weeks. But if the additional step is too much for you, you can carbonate your beer after fermentation is complete.
Take note. Weizenbocks have medium to high carbonation levels. So, be patient. 2 weeks should be sufficient for good carbonation in your beer.
Now, if you prefer another sample recipe from the one mentioned above, this recipe uses more specialty malts:
- 5 lbs. (3.40 kg) Wheat
- 2 lbs. (0.91 kg) Munich malt
- 3 lbs. (1.36 kg) Vienna malt
- 4 oz. (113 g) Chocolate malt
- 8 oz. (227 g) CaraMunich
- 1 oz. (28.3 g) Perle hops
- Hefeweizen Ale yeast (WLP300)
For more recipes, it’s worth checking out Home Brewers Association for interesting Weizenbock recipes.
What Are the Best Weizenbocks to Try?
Ready to try a Hefeweizen on steroids? You’ve been warned. These wheat beers don’t shy away from maltiness and alcohol strength:
|Victory Brewing Moonglow||Victory Brewing Company|
|Schneider Weisse Tap 06 Aventinus||Schneider Weisse G. Schneider & Sohn|
|Ayinger Weizenbock||Ayinger Privatbrauerei|
|Live Oak Brewing Primus||Live Oak Brewing Company|
|Andechser Weizenbock||Klosterbrauerei Andechs|
|Weihenstephaner Vitus||Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan|
|Great Lakes Brewing Glockenspiel||Great Lakes Brewing Company|
|Sierra Nevada Weizenbock||Sierra Nevada Brewing Company|
|Les Trois Mousquetaires Weizenbock||Les Trois Mousquetaires|
|Ramstein Winter Wheat||High Point Brewing Company|
|Town Hall Buffalo Bock||Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery|
|Alpenglow||Midnight Sun Brewing Company|
Best Food to Pair With a Weizenbock
Whether it’s a pale or dark Weizenbock, you’ll find a diverse food selection that goes great with either.
Hearty, gamey meats are your best food pairing, such as venison, lamb, or boar. However, a pale Weizenbock pairs better with lighter meats like chicken or roast duck.
If wild meat isn’t your thing, grilled meat and any meaty stew also pair well with a pale or dark Weizenbock. Of course, meat isn’t the only option. Seafood and vegetables – either grilled or stewed – are excellent pairs.
Lighter appetizers like aged cheese, cold cut meats, and smoked gouda are perfect if you’re after a light appetizing meal.
And finally, finish strong with dessert. From apple strudel or a decadent chocolate cake to banana pudding or caramel flan, it’s definitely worth the try. In fact, almost any dessert complements a Weizenbock.