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Old 07-16-2012, 02:36 PM   #1
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I am about to embark on a Wit-a-thon. I have the ability to do proper temp controlled ferment and aging now, so I'm ready to take on one of the things that has been on my waiting list the longest - my kind of Wit.

Goals:
  • Proper Wit visual charcter
  • Mild Expression of Clove, Pepper, Fruit
  • Avoidance of Banana as much as possible
  • No adjunct spices - just yeast and temp control
  • Preference (but not required) for dry yeast vs liquid

Based on my palate, examples of this type of Wit are:
  • Bell's Winter White Ale
  • Hoegaarden

I'd like to open the discussion for anyone to has brewed this type of Wit to talk about your results. Yeast strain and handling will be very important data points, so feel free to get all nerdy with it.

So far, I have done the most reading on Fermentis T-58. It seems that I would be able to achieve my goals with it if I held the ferment around the bottom if it's working range; 58-60F. Possibly even as high as 65F, based on comments. At these low temps, it is said to express pepper quite a bit.

Remember; this guy is not invited to the party!
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:58 PM   #2
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I brewed this a few months back "SWMBO Slayer - Belgian Blonde". It called for 1 Pkgs Belgian Wit Ale (White Labs #WLP400) Yeast-Wheat, but my HBS only had Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier. My cellar temp was 68*. I did not get any pepper, but I must say it was one of my tastiest brews to date and certainly the strongest.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:11 PM   #3
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I brewed the witbier from BCS but used WLP410 instead of 400. It turned out very well. Very little "banana" ester and the coriander/orange/chamomile flavors were barely noticeable. That said, I find that your exemplary Hoegarden has over the top banana ester (or at least did the two times I tried it). I used wlp410 intentionally because of its reduced ester production.

 
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:14 PM   #4
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What temp did you ferment the wlp410 at?

 
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:14 PM   #5
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I've only used WLP400 once, and not in a Wit - it was a friend's Belgian IPA recipe. I thought it sucked frankly, but since it was overbalanced into the hops there was really no way to get a good feel for the yeast character, so I have nothing to say yet about 400 in a Wit.

3944 is totally new to me. It sounds like from your experience you'd recommend it?

It looks like WLP410 is also an option, it claims to be less phenolic and more spicy. The claimed higher residual sweetness scares me though.

I'm really hoping someone will come forward with more dry yeast experience. Both pro brewers I know use dry yeast exclusively, and have more than a handful of award winning beers to show for it. Hard to find good dry yeast info in the homebrew community though.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:16 PM   #6
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Isn't that crazy? That's why I called out commercial beers, just saying "banana" can be very different person to person.

The ester I am sensitive to is definitely banana, but I find Hoegaarden to be completely lacking it, whereas I find many microbrew Hefes to be exploding with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelBrock View Post
I brewed the witbier from BCS but used WLP410 instead of 400. It turned out very well. Very little "banana" ester and the coriander/orange/chamomile flavors were barely noticeable. That said, I find that your exemplary Hoegarden has over the top banana ester (or at least did the two times I tried it). I used wlp410 intentionally because of its reduced ester production.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:18 PM   #7
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If you can get your hands on some allagash white culture their yeast - it makes the best wit I've brewed - stay away from the dried yeasts - even the Blanche yeast - I didn't do much for my last wit.

Lavash bottles with their strain.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:33 PM   #8
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It doesn't look like this is a beer I will be able to get my hands on, unfortunately. I can see why you would recommend it though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by shoreman View Post
If you can get your hands on some allagash white culture their yeast - it makes the best wit I've brewed - stay away from the dried yeasts - even the Blanche yeast - I didn't do much for my last wit.

Lavash bottles with their strain.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshs View Post
What temp did you ferment the wlp410 at?
I followed Jamil's ferementation plan. I started at 68 degrees and after 3 days (at about the 70% done mark) I raised it to 72 degrees to finish. I was brewing for a family reunion and was a bit rushed. I bottled at 2 weeks and it took every bit of that to finish. I brought it to the reunion after 2 weeks in the bottle and it turned out really well. I didn't consider myself a traditional witbier fan (but do like the various bluemoon varieties). The esters in Hoegaarden (and most heffes) actually give me an upset stomach.

Unfortunately 410 is seasonal and my LHBS only carries White Labs yeast. I'd like to do this again but I'm afraid that the alternative yeasts might lead me to a batch I wouldn't enjoy. I was planning on washing the yeast but flocculation was so poor I decided not to bother.

EDIT: I mis-remembered the fermentation temperature. It was 68 degrees, not 60 degrees (that was for my current batch, a Kolsch).

 
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:40 PM   #10
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I've used 3944 in two wits now and I definitely recommend running this yeast in the 70s. The first batch fermented about 63-64 and produced a very neutral flavor profile. The second batch started at 68 and I ramped it up to 72/73... really brings out the esters and tartness you expect from Hoegaarden. There wasn't the slightest hint of fusels, so next time I might try to get it up to 74/75.

 
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