Just like bacon is the gateway meat, Blue Moon seems to be the introductory brew for those just starting to dip their toes into the waters of craft beers. And although Blue Moon has big-name financial backing (it's owned by MillerCoors), it's emblematic of a light and citrusy style of ale that's been brewed in Europe for centuries.
If you like the taste of Blue Moon—or Hoegaarden, another popular example—and want to broaden your horizons, start looking for (and asking for) witbier, weissbier, or hefeweizen at your local bar or beer store. Here are five beers in this style I think you may fall in love with.
Translating to "white beer," the style is brewed with wheat and left unfiltered, which lends it a hazy, cloudy appearance. Belgian and American brewers often add coriander, nutmeg, and orange peel to the beer—the citrus and spice notes come through loud and clear in these brews. Sometimes you'll taste a hint of banana, clove, or honey-ish fruitiness, thanks to a special strain of yeast that imparts sweet flavor.
There's a world of witbiers and weissbiers out there, but I've picked five of my favorites below. Each has its own distinct character, but all feature the creamy, sprightly citrus-and-spice flavors of a good wheat ale.
If You Like Blue Moon Try These 5 Wheat Beers Too
- Pyramid Hefeweizen: This—not Blue Moon—is the beer that made me a believer in wheat ales many moons ago. Smooth and mildly spiced, it goes down easy and is light on the banana flavors that often appear in the classic German hefeweizen style.
- Ommegang Witte: Pale gold and a little less cloudy than some of its brethren, this slightly citrusy refresher from Cooperstown, NY is clean, crisp, and a little more tart than many witbiers on the market.
- Harpoon UFO White: Harpoon makes a number of variations under the UFO label, but this one is sweeter and spicier than the brewery's flagship hefeweizen, with a surprising but pleasingly bolder flavor than you'd expect from a white ale.
- Hacker-Pschorr Weisse: If you want to go back to the source of weissbier, this traditional version comes from a Bavarian brewery that has been making the beer since 1417. It sports the big, frothy head that distinguishes the genre, and has a light but creamy sweetness.
- Hitachino Nest White Ale: I love the chamomile aroma of this delicate Japanese white ale. It's been a standard menu item at ramen joints for a while now, but I love to keep a bottle around to pair with grilled pork chops or Thai takeout.
Wheat ales like these are typically served in tall vase-like glasses as shown above to showcase the beer's crown of foam—quite the dramatic presentation. Whether or not you want to add an extra squeeze of orange or lemon is up to you!
Do you have a favorite wheat beer to add to this list?
(Image credits: Casey Barber)