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Belgian Witbier - Help with recipe

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wepeeler

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I brewed a Belgian Wit 2 months ago with good success. However, it ended up being a session - 3.7% abv.
4# Flaked Wheat
4# Pilsner
1.5# Red Wheat
0.5# Flaked Oats

Beersmith predicted 1.050 OG, but I got 1.040. Not the end of the world, as it tasted great and was super crushable. My conclusion is the Pils malt didn't have enough DP to convert the Flaked Wheat. Am I crazy?

I'm looking to make my next version a bit closer to 5%. Maybe even 5.5%. I ended up changing the grist to:
4# Pilsner
3# White Wheat
2# Red Wheat
1# Flaked Wheat

Beersmith is predicting 1.050. Problem is I bought Briess Raw White Wheat, instead of regular malted White Wheat. Beersmith doesn't have Raw White Wheat in the database. Everywhere I read says that Raw White Wheat doesn't have the enzymes for conversion, and I need to do a cereal mash. The Raw White Wheat looks exactly like regular White Wheat, just a bit lighter in color: Briess Raw White Wheat | MoreBeer

I have plenty of Flaked Wheat to substitute, if need be, but I do not want another session Wit. Should I go with:

4# Pilsner
4# Flaked Wheat
2# Red Wheat?

Thoughts?
 

Bramling Cross

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Assuming your pils malt isn't one of the intentionally under-modified varieties, typically called Bohemian pils malt, you should have plenty of enzymes available for conversion of a wit's gooey stuff. For example, my house wit runs only 35% pils, the rest being flaked wheat and oats (1.5lbs of bloody, no-good, filthy, rotten, stinking oats) and I have no problems with conversion.

Lautering this gooey, sticky fiasco of a mash is the challenge. I think this is where you're losing efficiency. You're likely getting conversion, you're just leaving a lot of sugar behind in your gooey mess of a mash. Are you doing a genuine mashout? Are you rushing your mash? Are you using rice hulls? Did you crush your own malt on that first batch with the malted wheat? Remember, wheat malt tends to benefit from a tighter gap setting. It's easy to loose efficiency on wheat malt if you forget to double crush it, or run it separately with a tighter gap.

Proper adult supervision is sure to be forthcoming, but I figure my remarks can at least get things started.
 
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wepeeler

wepeeler

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Assuming your pils malt isn't one of the intentionally under-modified varieties, typically called Bohemian pils malt, you should have plenty of enzymes available for conversion of a wit's gooey stuff. For example, my house wit runs only 35% pils, the rest being flaked wheat and oats (1.5lbs of bloody, no-good, filthy, rotten, stinking oats) and I have no problems with conversion.

Lautering this gooey, sticky fiasco of a mash is the challenge. I think this is where you're losing efficiency. You're likely getting conversion, you're just leaving a lot of sugar behind in your gooey mess of a mash. Are you doing a genuine mashout? Are you rushing your mash? Are you using rice hulls? Did you crush your own malt on that first batch with the malted wheat? Remember, wheat malt tends to benefit from a tighter gap setting. It's easy to loose efficiency on wheat malt if you forget to double crush it, or run it separately with a tighter gap.

Proper adult supervision is sure to be forthcoming, but I figure my remarks can at least get things started.
I brew in a bag. Full volume boils, so maybe with no sparge, I'm missing on getting all the sugar? I've used plenty of flaked stuff when making my NEIPAs and never had efficiency issues. It's baffling. 60 min mashes. Double crushing grains.
 

Bramling Cross

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I don't know much about NEIPAs, but they're heavy on the flaked oats, correct? You're right, it's a bit of a head scratcher, and that's why I think you're leaving sugars in your bag.

In the past, I've run into efficiency issues with wits when I tried to treat them like a US or UK ale in the MLT. I've learned that a solid mashout is really important with wits as it loosens up the gooey mess and a simple batch sparge certainly helps to rinse out the rest (it doesn't have to be anything fancy). I haven't found a protein rest to be especially helpful, but I do think an extended mash of 90min is useful (I tend to go 45min at 142 followed by 45min at 156). At a minimum, I'd focus on extending your mash. Unfortunately, I don't know much about BIAB, but I think a solid mashout would help your bag to drain more effectively, and it's pretty easy to do. The more I think about this, the more I think this is as much a BIAB question as it is a wit question. Hopefully the adult supervision will arrive soon.

At any rate, you're definitely not alone in experiencing a bit of turbulence with your wit mash, it's pretty common to have a bit of a learning curve associated with these gooey mashes. I certainly went through it!
 

IslandLizard

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Milling too coarsely will impact your mash efficiency. Wheat kernels are much smaller than barley and ideally should be crushed on a narrower gap (0.025" vs 0.034"). Standard LHBS mill gaps (0.045") won't cut it.

Insufficient starch gelatinization is another factor. This article goes into some detail. Wheat has a long gelatinization range, it needs the higher temps to get to the more complex starches.
 

IslandLizard

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Just hooking on to what @Bramling Cross already said.

You've got 60% wheat in your new recipe, and 2/3 of that (4 pounds) is unmalted. That's a recipe for a super sticky mash!
Definitely use 8-16 oz of rice hulls. Start with 8 you can always mix in more if needed.

I would recommend a combined protein/beta-glucanase rest at 131F for 10-15', MAX. No longer!
Now with BIAB that's a bit tricky as you can't heat up the mash with the bag in there, chances are it will scorch.
The essence is not to heat your mash with the bag lying on the bottom.

But if you can if lift the bag during heating cycles, gently heat the wort to 152-154F, dunk the bag so the content heats up, lift bag, heat more, dunk again, etc. until you reach your 152-154F sacch rest temp, it could be done. Beware, during heating cycles stir well and measure temp, you don't want to heat your wort any higher than 152-154F.

Same for heating to mash out temps. You could lift the bag, heat, dunk, heat, dunk until you're at 170F. Then hold for 15-20 minutes and stir a few times. Good stirring breaks down the gooey glucans too. If it's still too gooey, stir more.

Before starting the mash, a cereal mash or just boiling/simmering your milled raw white wheat for 30 minutes in a large pot will help getting that gelatinized. Use water borrowed from your strike water volume (say a gallon to a gallon and a half for the 3 pounds of raw wheat) and simmer slowly under constant stirring/scraping the bottom to prevent scorching. Then dump that wheat porridge into your BIAB bag awaiting above the kettle with the remaining strike water. Since you're adding 2 gallons of boiling wheat soup to your strike water, a (small) temp correction will be needed to arrive at your proper mash temp.

I also agree to reserve some water to do a sparge. Say 2 gallons. It will help rinse more sugars out. It will still be gooey.

It looks/sounds harder than it is.
 

IslandLizard

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But if you can if lift the bag during heating cycles, gently heat the wort to 152-154F, dunk the bag so the content heats up, lift bag, heat more, dunk again, etc. until you reach your 152-154F sacch rest temp, it could be done. Beware, during heating cycles stir well and measure temp, you don't want to heat your wort any higher than 152-154F.
Alternatively, you could use a boiling water infusion. Just reserve that water from your strike volume.
 

hoppybrewer

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I brewed a Belgian Wit 2 months ago with good success. However, it ended up being a session - 3.7% abv.
4# Flaked Wheat
4# Pilsner
1.5# Red Wheat
0.5# Flaked Oats

Beersmith predicted 1.050 OG, but I got 1.040. Not the end of the world, as it tasted great and was super crushable. My conclusion is the Pils malt didn't have enough DP to convert the Flaked Wheat. Am I crazy?

I'm looking to make my next version a bit closer to 5%. Maybe even 5.5%. I ended up changing the grist to:
4# Pilsner
3# White Wheat
2# Red Wheat
1# Flaked Wheat

Beersmith is predicting 1.050. Problem is I bought Briess Raw White Wheat, instead of regular malted White Wheat. Beersmith doesn't have Raw White Wheat in the database. Everywhere I read says that Raw White Wheat doesn't have the enzymes for conversion, and I need to do a cereal mash. The Raw White Wheat looks exactly like regular White Wheat, just a bit lighter in color: Briess Raw White Wheat | MoreBeer

I have plenty of Flaked Wheat to substitute, if need be, but I do not want another session Wit. Should I go with:

4# Pilsner
4# Flaked Wheat
2# Red Wheat?

Thoughts?
I'm concerned my Breaktime Witbier (on fermentation right now) from Homebrew Beer Recipes App will have a similar abv. It also uses 50/50 malt/flaked wheat.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Cheers!
 

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