Wheat Field Ears Golden Wheat Close. Wallpaper.

The Cream of Wheat

Malted barley is the backbone of beer as we know it. And why not? It’s delicious, versatile and has a satisfying sweet aspect. But: it’s not the only grain in the brewery. Since its earliest days in the Neolithic Middle East, when cereal grains were still being domesticated, beers incorporated not only barley, but emmer and einkorn wheat and spelt as well.

Two mugs of beer

Wit, Weizen & Weisse

In Western culture, wheat is more than a foundation of cuisine, frequently chosen to symbolically represent the life-giving power of nature. Its history goes all the way back to the agricultural revolution about 10,000 years ago. For countless generations, wheat was one of the wild grains selected and replanted, eventually nurtured into high-yielding domesticated versions. Its cousin barley was carefully developed into the perfect brewing grain. While much of wheat breeding was aimed at making better bread, evidence shows that some wheat was bred for brewing.

beer, gose, stange, glass, wheat, grain, salt, gold, amber, white, bead board

The Tightrope of Gose

Despite the slow, orderly evolution and subtle trends that beer styles often follow, there are many cases where something new—or obscure, or even dead—will suddenly catch fire and fit the moment perfectly. This is the case for gose, which disappeared in the 1960s from its home in Northeastern Germany after a couple of centuries or more. I’ve been writing about this fascinating style since the 1990s; for a while, gose got only sporadic love from craft breweries, mostly as an exercise in curiosity. At some point about ten years ago, this reclusive style bounded onto the American craft scene, ready to rock.