When you put wheat beer in the name of your brewing company, you most surely separate yourself from the rest of the pack. And when you earn a reputation for delivering great wheat beers, you become a natural stop in the exploration of those distinct and distinguished brews that use malted barley's cereal grain cousin.
Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer takes you on a global journey of discovery of those beers in Brewing with Wheat, and makes a stop in Butler, N.J., home of High Point Wheat Beer Company and the Ramstein brand.
Stan, whose other titles are Brew Like a Monk: Trappist, Abbey and Strong Belgian Ales and How to Brew Them, and The Beer Lover's Guide to the USA, interviewed High Point founder Greg Zaccardi about a year ago for a section in the book.
Now called High Point Brewing, a shortened name that makes room for the lagers and pale ales that have been added to the Ramstein banner, the brewery once lay claim to a one-and-only title in the US beer industry (excerpt):
When Zaccardi began selling the Ramstein brand beers in 1996, High Point was the first, and only, all-wheat brewery in the United States since before Prohibition, when weissbier breweries were tiny and made something that tasted more like wheat beers from Berlin. He since has begun brewing a variety of barley beers under contract, accounting for more than one-third of production. "We couldn't survive brewing wheat beer alone," he said.
Followers of High Point know those additional brews these days include a well-received maibock and Oktoberfest, Vienna lager and a imperial pilsner initially brewed for restaurants in New York City, not to mention a Belgian red for the Harvest restaurant chain that owns Trap Rock brewpub in nearby Berkeley Heights.
Another excerpt, courtesy of Stan:
Now that he has made a variety of styles under contract, such as a Belgian-style dubbel and a German-style Pilsener, Zaccardi remains convinced wheat beers present the greatest challenge for a brewer. "Brewing consistent wheat beer is the hardest thing to do," he said. "You have to control something that is uncontrollable, the yeast."You can get a glimpse of what's in Brewing with Wheat here. The book's available through Beertown, Beerbooks and Amazon.