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Ah, wheat beers. Light, refreshing, and citrusy, but also full-textured, spicy, often creamy. Wheat beers encompass several distinct styles, all known for their versatility either on their own or when matched with nearly every culinary pairing you throw at them. 

(We’ve found, through extensive research, that our own Allagash White pairs beautifully with lobster, sushi, pizza, burgers, oysters…you name it.)

Wheat beers are so-named because their grain bill consists of 30-60% wheat. This wheat can be brewed raw or malted, or as a mixture of the two. The wheat lends a bit more body while the top-fermenting ale yeast coaxes fruity and spicy flavors from the brew. The result is a multi-layered drinking experience that can present with strong clove aromas (hefeweizens), citrusy, spicy overtones (witbiers), soft bitterness (American wheat ales), or even tartness (Berliner Weisses).

Wheat beer vs. Witbier vs. Hefeweizen

Learn the difference between these styles

Blonde/Golden Ales

Blonde and golden ales – the terms are often used interchangeably – grew from Belgian brewing traditions and were later adopted, and adapted, by domestic brewers. Brewed to a slightly elevated ABV, they remain nearly as quaffable as their wheated cousins. As with many styles made here in the States, the hop bitterness is often more pronounced in most American blonde and golden ales. But American versions of the style share similarities with their Belgian forebears in that these beers feature bready malt characteristics with occasional use of wheat to add body to the result. They also share the ability of wheat beers to pair wonderfully with a breadth of food options with their spicy and/or fruity aromas. 

Belgian-style options tend to be on the spicier and more fruit-forward side due to the yeast used to ferment them, but all blonde and golden ales range from relatively clear and golden to slightly more hazy when wheat is added to the grain bill. American-style examples, in particular, frequently employ the addition of spices and fruit, bringing them that much closer to the experience of sipping on a witbier.

Suggested Beers:

Allagash Brewing Tripel– our celebratory, award-winning Belgian-style golden ale.

Russian River Redemption – fruity, banana bouquet with a spicy, mild finish

Sixpoint Sweet Action – American-style blonde ale brewed with wheat, hazy and hoppy

Allagash Tripel in a 6-pack of 12 oz. bottles


“Saison” is French for season, which is fitting given the history of the style. Saisons were traditionally brewed seasonally, in the colder months, to be consumed by farmhands during the warmer months. As you’d expect, these beers are highly drinkable. They commonly achieve a similar range of ABV as the wheat beers you know and love. But they’re also extremely complex due to the ingredients as well as the yeast strains used in fermentation. (“Saison” also unofficially refers to the loose, catchall name of this group of yeast strains.) 

With their provenance as farmhouse ales, it should come as no surprise that their grain bills are chock full of grains commonly harvested upon these farms, including barley, oats, spelt, wheat, and buckwheat, not to mention the regular addition of various forms of sugar. These mixed grains and sugar sources, in addition to the slow-fermenting saison yeast fermentation, result in a marvelous intricacy of flavors and aromas. 

Saisons can also be fermented with wild yeast, which arguably provides an even greater depth of flavor and character. Because the yeast adds a level of sourness and/or funk, these wild-fermented saisons are highly recommended as a worthy substitute for Berliner Weiss beers. Grisettes are a lesser-known but no less delicious subset of saisons, brewed to be lower in alcohol and more drinkable. They often include adjuncts such as spice or fruit and are maybe the most drinkable of all the styles mentioned here. Saisons and grisettes are glorious on their own but also possess transcendent powers when paired with light meals such as salads, whitefish platters, and chicken dishes. 

Suggested Beers:

Saison Dupont – the world standard for saisons, peppery and dry

Hill Farmstead Anna – a wild saison brewed with honey by our friends in Vermont

Allagash Hop Reach in a field of hops

American Pale Ales

If the bitterness of an American wheat ale is your thing, and you’d like to keep the ABV and bitterness to a modicum while preserving the balance of flavor in your beer, you can’t deny the delicious step up to an American pale ale. 

Say you’re into a hazy, spicy, fruity witbier. In that case, you might try a hazy New England pale ale with its juicy, lightly astringent bitterness, which occasionally veers into spiciness. If you’re more a fan of hefeweizens and their clove-like character, it’s not much of a leap to appreciate the piney/resiny flavors and aromas of a classic West Coast-style pale ale.

Strong IPA’s are notoriously tricky to pair with food given their bracing bitterness, but pale ales work in some surprising ways. Prepare to be adventurous: Spicy flavors found in Indian or Thai cuisine can be a perfect match despite the intensity of the flavor combinations that can be off-putting for some. Pizza, with or without spicy pepperoni or sausage, is another inspired pairing that we’re particularly fond of. One word of caution, however (and a secret pro tip): we wouldn’t suggest pairing exceedingly hoppy beers with oily fish such as tuna or trout, as the combination is known to produce some highly unpleasant metallic flavors.

Suggested Beers:

Allagash Hop Reach IPA – Our citrusy, tropical, and refreshing IPA.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – The American Pale Ale that started it all. A classic example of a West Coast-style pale ale.

Three Floyds Zombie Dust/Gumballhead – The gold standard of heavily hopped midwest pale ales, highly hopped but also highly drinkable. (Gumballhead features wheat if you decide not to stray too far from what you like.)

Battery Steele Firn – A New England-style pale ale brewed with oats and wheat, dry hopped with citrusy hop varietals. Deliciously juicy.

Brett has been a part of the Allagash Marketing Team since 2016. He's a big fan of sharing the many stories Allagash has to offer through blogs, newsletters, as the host of their podcast, and in intermittent appearances on social media.