Wheat beer styles specifically Hefeweizen and Saison appear similar and a lot of people want to know how to tell them apart. Although they have a couple of similarities there are also quite some differences.
We will be discussing both the similarities and the differences between these two Wheat Beer styles. One obvious point of unity between these two is the fact that their brewing process involves large amounts of wheat.
Being wheat beer they are generally hard to brew as the starch and protein contained in it makes it tick and hard to extract sugars.
Below is a breakdown of these two styles
Hefeweizen vs. Saison: Know the Differences
Hefeweizen (hay-fuh-veyt-ssenn) Hefe means yeast, and Weizen translates as wheat. These were the original summer ale, and one of the most popular beer styles available.
It is of German origin and top-fermented ale yeast is used in the brewing process. It has more than 50% wheat malt and barley.
Weissbiers (wheat beers) were forbidden under German laws. It became popular in royal circles and later got an exemption.
It has a cloudy appearance and a white head. It is a crisp ale that leaves yeast at the bottom of the glass.
This classic beer style predates pale ales and lagers. This creamy textured drink has a tart flavor with notes of clove and banana as a result of the special yeast used in brewing it.
Saison falls under the category of ale beer style. It is one well know ale in the American craft brewing industry.
Saison translates as “season” in French. This beer has a french origin as a seasonal beer usually made in the winter for farmhands to enjoy during the summer until harvest.
Top-fermented yeast is used in its production as well as grains and other locally sourced ingredients. It has mild alcohol content.
Belgium breweries specialize in the production of this Saison. It is called “farmhouse ale” in southern Belgium where it originated. The beer is a rustic one and open to the brewers’ interpretation.
The brew is refreshing and can be dark to light, and the taste can have more malt or more hops depending on the number of ingredients used. Another thing that is obvious in these brews is the spicy and fruit flavors as well as the mildly bitter taste.
It has soft flavors of fruits that gives a refreshing feel while you drink each sip.
Hefeweizens are produced by a lot of different brewers. But there is a distinct flavor that distinguishes them from other beer styles.
This beer style is particularly sweet and has fruity notes of cloves and bananas. Some brands of this brew style may have notes of bubble gum and vanilla.
Being a wheat beer makes It a heavy beer and a high level of carbonation is noticeable in this brew.
German production laws govern the production of these beers in Germany. But American Hefeweizen isn’t governed by such laws so they may have a bit more flavor to their taste.
Depending on the brewer and brand there may be hints of spices and citrus. Some may not use the traditional weizen ale yeast, they may use a different yeast to spice things up a bit.
These Saison drinks originally started as a farmhouse ale that varies in flavor depending on the ingredients available for use by the brewer. It has a rustic flavor and it originally has low alcohol content.
Modern ones have alcohol content ranging from 6%-8%.
It has a mild malty nature, partly because of Pilsner malt. It also has hints of fruitiness, yeast, and adjuncts. It has a semi-mild hop presence in the taste, not in an overwhelming way.
The Saison has a complex character, from the acidic sour nature to high carbonation giving it a dry finish and giving you satisfaction.
They have moderate alcohol content and are refreshing. Depending on the ingredients available to the brewer it can be more maltiness or Hoppy in taste, with fruity or spicy notes, and mild bitterness.
It has paler color than most beers in Germany.
It is crisp and it has a cloudy appearance as a result of the suspended yeast. It foams at the top when poured into a glass which should be allowed to settle before drinking to best enjoy it.
Depending on the brewer and the ingredients involved, the color can range from light to dark. It has a lot of yeast as residue and that gives it a cloudy appearance.
It can be a clearer drink if you pour it gently and do not unsettle the yeast layer.
To get a clearer beer you would have to slowly pour it into a glass and be careful not to empty the bottle. If you want a cloudy drink, you can empty the entire bottle into the glass.
Hefeweizen typically has a low alcohol content of 4.0%-7.0% ABV. While Saison has an alcohol content of 6%-8% ABV. They are both easily drinkable beers.
It is usually served in a glass called Weizenbier glass also known as Weizen vase, this glass is notable for its thick base.
It is usually best served in a tulip-shaped glass that helps enhance the aromas. You may stem the glass.
Temperature to Serve
It is best served cold around a temperature of 400f in a glass rinsed in cold water. Americans serve this with a lemon wedge.
This is best served at temperatures between 450f to 550f.
Any of these drinks can be paired with natural beer foods like pizza, salad, seafood, apple strudel as well as smoked pork. Some spicy foods like Indian and Mexican curries.
Both drinks have a lot of similarities as well as differences it is a matter of personal preference when it comes to which is best.
They are not so far apart. Pick your preference and enjoy a great cool wheat yeasty beer.