Can brewers overcome wheat beer stigma?

Green Beacon head brewer Johann van der Walt

Have you had a chance to try an Aussie Wheat Ale yet?

It’s going to be the hottest new beer style in Australia this summer – that’s if Carlton & United Breweries and retailer Endeavour Group have anything to do with it.

Five breweries owned by CUB’s craft beer division – Fire & Earth Ventures – have created their own version of what an Australian wheat beer could look like.

When I say wheat beer, more than likely you’re thinking of a Belgian witbier like Hoegaarden, or a German hefeweizen like Weihenstephaner.

And that’s part of the problem. By and large, Australians have had an uneasy relationship with these European wheat beer styles that owe much of their flavour and aroma to particular yeasts that produce phenolic characters, which can be quite polarising.

Aussie Wheat Ale promises to be something different. The parameters are still very broad, but the crux of it is a new beer style celebrating Australian-grown wheat as its core ingredient, and a more neutral yeast that doesn’t get in the way of the hop aromas and flavours that we’re more accustomed to.

This is a special episode of the Drinks Adventures podcast, produced in partnership with Fire & Earth Ventures.

We’re joined by Fire & Earth’s head of marketing, Andy Vance, and Tina Panoutsos, who is CUB’s senior manager of beer knowledge. You might remember I interviewed Tina back in season five of the show.

You’re also going to hear from all five breweries involved in the project: Matilda Bay, Mountain Goat, Pirate Life, Green Beacon and 4 Pines.

First up though, I asked Andy how the project was originally conceived.