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Old 05-21-2008, 01:06 AM   #1
jimconnors
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Default Seeking Wheat Beer tweak advice

Hello fellow beer enthusiasts!

I am currently (as I type) enjoying the last mugs of my first weiss beer ever.

The beer turned out great; it was a simple standard bavarian-style weiss. It turned out to have a good strong banana/clove flavor, if a bit over hopped for my tastes. A number of my friends that have served in the military in Germany all thought it was a good beer.
That said, I'd like to start tweaking the existing recipe to make a slightly different but just as enjoyable beer.
Some of the things I would like to try are the following:

  • Lagering - I'd like to lager the beer to enhance the crispness of the beer.
  • Yeast - I used a standard German Wheat Beer yeast originally, but do I need to change that to lager the beer?
  • Specialty Grains - I used extract only (6.75 lbs Wheat Malt Extract - a 60/40 LME), with no specialty grains in my first go around; I'd like to add a bit of body to the beer.
  • Esters/Phenols - I'd like to reduce them to a whisper. In my first brew, its dominant. I'd like it to drop to a whisper balanced by mild hops.
  • Hops - in the first run I used 1 oz GR Select at 60 minutes & 3/4 oz GR Select at 20 minutes. I'd like to drop the hoppiness some, especially in the aftertaste.
Any advice, experiences or tricks that anyone can share would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

Jim
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Old 05-21-2008, 01:18 AM   #2
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You'll need to post your original recipe with as much info. about the fermentation and what not as possible. Did you secondary? What yeast (specifically)did you use? At what temperature did the beer ferment?

These are the things that the pros on here will need to know to help you tweak your beer.

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Old 05-21-2008, 01:56 AM   #3
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6.75 lbs Wheat Malt Extract (LME) 60/40 Wheat/Barley
1 oz GR Select Hops - 60 minutes
3/4 GR Select Hops - 20 minutes
1 Irish moss tablet - 10 minutes
Fermentis dry German Wheat beer yeast (unsure currently at the specific one but my homebrew supply place keeps track of my purchases so I'll get the specifics tmw and update)

I started with 5 gallons of water, to which I added the LME and brought to a boil. 60 minute boil, above additions at specified times.
I used a wort chiller as well as added a 1 gallon block of sanitized ice to cool to approximately 70 degrees.
I re-hydrated the yeast and pitched at 70 degrees.
The primary fermentation was done at approximately 75 degrees for 7 days, was racked to a secondary and fermented for 12 more days at approximately 70 degrees.

The beer was then kegged and served .

Jim

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Old 05-21-2008, 02:48 AM   #4
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you don't need to lager it to make it crisp, but a low temperature will help (60F will work if you have a good pitching rate)

it won't have near as many esters as your 75°F beer, but they will still be present.

you could lager your beer in the secondary to drop out the yeast and rebottle with another yeast.

i always use a nice, malty base grain with my wheats, even extract. go with some munich for starters and you could add some cara-pils for body.

that's a good hop choice. i like tettnanger, as it has a bit more spiciness that i prefer.

i would forget about the late hop addition. all you need for a good hefeweizen is the bittering hops. let the flavor come from the yeast and wheat

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Old 05-21-2008, 04:38 AM   #5
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Deathbrewer, as always, is steering you in the right direction. +1 on the above advice. I will add this:

As far as base grains, experiment anyway you want. try the munich & carapils. I like adding Honey malt and/or caravienne (usually a half pound of each). Also, for body and mouthfeel, try adding stone ground wheat or flaked wheat in the steep (also helps hold the head).

tettnanger is an excellent wheat hop, I have also had good results with Mt. Hood and I agree about dropping the late addition if you want to reduce the hoppy flavor. I do also like wheats with some citrus notes in them so I dry hop wheats all the time with a little bit of simcoe (only a tad, like .25oz - .5oz) or cascade (.5oz - .75oz) to add a citrusy elemnt to the aroma and taste.

You need to think about what type of "crispness" you are going for. Remeber that wheats do well with all kinds of adjuncts. A half oz of corriander and a little orange or lemon zest can go a long way to crisping up a wheat.

finally, I know everybody has different opinions on this, but I say drop the irish moss. It's a wheat beer. It's O.K. if it's cloudy. Just my opinion.

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Old 05-21-2008, 12:35 PM   #6
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1. You don't need to worry about lagering.
2. There are plenty of good liquid wheat beer yeasts (White Labs & Wyeast)
3. I made a wheat using Carapils and German Pilsner (half pounds of each) and it came out fantastic.
4. In German wheats, esters/phenols are 'acceptable' but like Death said lower the temp with greatly limit them.
4. In my wheat beer, hops were limited to a 3/4 oz at 60 min and 1/4 at 15 (if i can remember). You want the yeast to provide the signature aroma.

Here's my wheat:

http://homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=62682

This is a neat tool to mess with:

http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/recipator

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Last edited by FishinDave07; 05-21-2008 at 12:35 PM. Reason: messed up link
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Old 05-21-2008, 02:28 PM   #7
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Wow!

I really didn't expect this kind of response - may have done yourselves in as I'll be asking a lot more of my musings now!

Awesome thoughts too; really helps to narrow down some of the changes I want to make and what ones are really not needed. I knew fermentation temps were important to the health virility of the process but I didn't realize it affected the phenol/esters character so much. Sounds good as I much prefer to keep the house chilly - my wife loved it when I raised the house temp to 77 degrees to ensure the warm temps for the wheat; I usually have it at 68!

I have never used adjuncts before; I've mostly worked with existing recipes and tweaking the hops and brew process so the flaked wheat is definitely new to me. What is an appropriate amount to add? Just at a quick look (loving that Recipator tool) I'm looking at a 1/2 pound of CaraPils and Caravienne each with the Wheat LME base. I may run with a batch without the flaked wheat first and then follow up with a second batch that adds it in just to see and taste the difference. Nice thing about having lots of wheat beer loving friends is I can make a few 5 gallon batches and be sure not to get overstocked .

On the fermentation, I have brewed quite a few darker ales (porters, brown ales etc) and the fermentation process was longer in the recipes. With this wheat and many that I have browsed, it seems that about 7 days in a primary is all that is needed - many don't even mention a secondary and those that do basically say its for clarification purposes? Is it feasible to allow primary fermentation for say 7-8 days, then rack it directly to a keg? Are there benefits (aside from being able to enjoy it sooner) or drawbacks to skipping the secondary with a wheat?

Thanks again for all the awesome input!!

Jim

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Old 05-21-2008, 03:27 PM   #8
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On the flaked wheat, or stone ground wheat, you want to use between 1/2lb and 1lb. put it tirght in the muslin bag with the steeping grains.

adjuncts, like corriander, citrus peel etc... just add like hops. I usually add corriander and peel in the last 20 - 15 minutes. Some people will even add adjuncts to the secondary. Both methods will produce different results. On citrus peel, I have used fresh and dry. the fresh zest is great, but it is hard to duplicate reults due to a great many factors, the biggest reason is they are full of water so each batch has a different concentration of essential oils. If you use fresh, you need alot less, and since the essentials oils are concentrated, it is easier to duplicate results. Whole corriander seed that is crushed just prior to brewing is te better than store-ground corriander. You can add fruit extract (blueberry, peach etc..). Basically the sky is the limit.

As far as secondary, and conditioning..... If your IBU's are low, a longer rest isb't necessarry. My personal opinion is that I enjoy wheats that are cloudy so resting for clarification is not a huge issue for me. most of my belgian wits don't get time in a secondary, I may bottle condition for three weeks, but in a keg that is force carbed you can enjoy them sooner. If you are making a kolsch, crispness and clarity will be more of a factor and I will use finings and a secondary on those (even cold crashing helps sometimes). I feel that wheats have more potential than most beers for experimentation so go ahead and choose a grian bill and hop schedule that suits your taste. I personally like some of the esters thrown out at higher temps and usually keep my wheats around 72 degrees while fermenting. I have had great success using ale yeasts as well, safale05 is a favorite for it's ease of use and cost. If you are going for a specific flavor profile from the yeast, wyeast has numerous options and you can get everything from spicy to clove to banana. These almost all will have very different results at different temps as well.

One piece of advice, if you are kegging, bottle up a couple 22oz bottles and save to compare with future recipes. Make sure you write everything down that you do. The more info the better. Take notes on temps frequently, days in primary, grain bill adjuntcs etc... and after you have a couple under your belt, it will become very clear which direction you want to go and how to get the results you want. make sure you put notes on finished product with the notes on production for easy comparison.

Good Luck!

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Old 05-21-2008, 05:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimconnors View Post
it seems that about 7 days in a primary is all that is needed
It depends, most wheats ferment vigorously

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimconnors View Post
many don't even mention a secondary and those that do basically say its for clarification purposes? Is it feasible to allow primary fermentation for say 7-8 days, then rack it directly to a keg? Are there benefits (aside from being able to enjoy it sooner) or drawbacks to skipping the secondary with a wheat?
Some people here seconday wheats to clear up some of the sediment. I don't, and am happy with the results. You also want to let the yeast "clean-up" after fermentation which means letting it sit in the primary an extra 3 days after fermentation is completed.
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimconnors View Post
I knew fermentation temps were important to the health virility of the process but I didn't realize it affected the phenol/esters character so much. Sounds good as I much prefer to keep the house chilly - my wife loved it when I raised the house temp to 77 degrees to ensure the warm temps for the wheat; I usually have it at 68!
You will still get fruity flavors and wonderful esters at 65°F. 77°F is far too high, IMO. 72°F is about tops for me (unless i'm not controlling it) and i still get some crazy banana. The fruity flavors will go down over time, too, so the longer you age it the mellower it will get. weizens don't really need to be aged, but i find they are best at about 6 weeks in the bottle and start to grow more bland after 2 months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimconnors View Post
flaked wheat is definitely new to me. What is an appropriate amount to add? I'm looking at a 1/2 pound of CaraPils and Caravienne each with the Wheat LME base.
you really need to do a partial mash to get the most out of the flaked wheat. if you add pilsner or 2-row, that will work. pilsner is actually the preferred base malt for a true hefeweizen, although i prefer some maltiness in mine so i usually use some munich or vienna as well.

as for other adjuncts, if you are using coriander or orange peel you want to look at wit beers and see what you like.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimconnors View Post
With this wheat and many that I have browsed, it seems that about 7 days in a primary is all that is needed - many don't even mention a secondary and those that do basically say its for clarification purposes? Is it feasible to allow primary fermentation for say 7-8 days, then rack it directly to a keg? Are there benefits (aside from being able to enjoy it sooner) or drawbacks to skipping the secondary with a wheat?
i would leave your beer in the primary at least 10 days before you transfer directly to keg. cloudy is one thing, but you still need the yeast to clean up after themselves. i personally leave mine at least two weeks, usually closer to three. They are still plenty cloudy and very tasty. i've kegged some after 8-9 days and they are just too thick and have never been my best.

my usual method for beers:
2 weeks primary, 2 weeks secondary, 6+ weeks bottle

and wheat beers:
3 weeks primary, 6 weeks bottle.

that's how i roll
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