White and red beers

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Thu Sep 1 06:34:47 UTC 2011

My bottle of Blue Moon says

Belgian White
Belgian-style wheat ale

Although I guess whites are a form of wheat, nobody wanting a white would ask for a wheat. Also, I think it's fair to say that coriander is a common ingredient in white beers, though not necessarily present.

AFAIK, Weissbier or just weiss is marketed as that; I had never identified weisses as being whites, though I'm well aware that wits are whites.

The problem with beer/ale applies also to brown. I think it's reasonably common to interchange the two.

I see also that hefeweizen is not in the OED. It has become very much a standard type of beer (in Seattle, anyway). Also, I think it is time to lose the hyphen of "barley-beer."

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

On Aug 31, 2011, at 11:22 PM, victor steinbok wrote:

> Wiki has no article on "white beer", but it redirects to "wheat beer". Wiki
> claims two types of "wheat beer" both named "white beer" in their native
> environment--the Dutch/Belgian witbier (spiced top-fermenting wheat beer)
> and German (Bavarian) Weissbier (traditionally unfiltered, but available in
> many other forms). Each uses a particular kind of yeast--and, obviously,
> both are distinguished by having wheat as the main malting agent. The
> Belgian witbier is often sold in the US as "white ale"--and the label is
> fair because witbier is top-fermenting, warm temperature beer. Weissbier
> usually goes by weizen (which is, of course, a more accurate
> representation), with additional nomenclature distinguishing different
> types. Unlike darks, brown ale, pale ale and red ale/beer, "white" is not
> the color of the brew (in fact, dunkelweizen is technically a dark "white
> beer" and virtually all "white beers" are darker than pale ales). Nor is it
> a denomination representing lighter alcohol content. When we tried brewing
> (undergrads at MIT), we found wheat beer to be among the most difficult to
> make (we never succeeded with ginger beer either but for entirely different
> reasons), the easiest being stout (given proper malt and hops). I am at a
> loss for the reasons behind the association of wheat and "white beer".
> As for "red beer", AFAIK, all red beers are also ales--i.e., "red ale" is
> more accurate. This does not mean that people don't use "red beer"
> moniker--just that the proper nomenclature would be "red ale" (Irish or
> Belgian). Any red beer that claims NOT to be an ale is likely to be
> essentially fake--light beer with additional non-standard coloring agent
> (e.g., caramel color). Purists will reject the existence of "red beer"
> (except as a misnomer for "red ale").
> VS-)
> On Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 1:35 AM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com>wrot=
> e:
>> Other than a sentence under "mawkish," the OED does not have "white beer.=
> "
>> -----
>> 1887    W. Beatty-Kingston Mus. & Manners II. 308   =91White beer=92, a l=
> iquor
>> of paramount mawkishness.
>> -----
>> Brown ale is listed, so surely "white beer" and "red beer" qualify.
>> Benjamin Barrett
>> Seattle, WA

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