Troubleshooting Hefeweizen

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First time posting here, so if there are any procedural considerations that I've missed, I'm on a learning curve and a quick study; let me know and I'll correct myself. Moderators, if this is an inappropriate location for this post, please move it as you see fit. I have searched as much as I could for a thread already touching on this, but my search might have missed something. I'd be happy to look at any thread anyone might have on hand to answer this question.

I've brewed a fair number of recipes by this time, over the last 2 years, and while I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert, I do have a pretty solid understanding of partial mash brewing. I'm finishing up the last 3 recipes that I have on deck, (all recipes are partial mash kits produced by Brewers Best), while I'm constructing my DIY electric HERMS system. I also have just completed my degree in Chemical Engineering so please don't shy away from getting as far into detail as you desire. I've digressed, so I'll get to the point.

I recently finished a Hefeweizen and have allowed it to sit in primary fermentation for the last two weeks. I'm aware that fermentation temperature is key to producing the proper esters for the banana/clove flavors and my fermentation temperature was, (what I thought to be an appropriate), 74F-76F degrees. The end result has been a disappointing amount of banana flavor, and an almost non-existent clove flavor. :( Is there a way to correct this? I thought that maybe during the priming process of bottling that there might be a way to take action on this issue, maybe storing the bottles in a higher temp area...however I have no real idea if the temperature was even the problem. Any ideas would be welcome, or as I've stated previously, direction towards any previous discussions would be very helpful.

Thanks in advance for any and all assistance!
 

hogwash

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74-76F seems pretty warm to me for a hefeweizen. Brewing Classic Styles recommends fermenting at 62F for its Bavarian Hefeweizen recipe. I doubt that there's much you can do now to correct it but next time I would ferment lower.
 

InLimbo

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You didn't say which yeast strain you used, but it doens't really matter. +1 to everything hogwash said. Warmer fermentations like yours tend to bring out a lot of banana flavor, while cooler temps favor the development of clove flavors. Live and learn!
 

barrooze

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How much yeast did you pitch? Did you make sure it was enough? Maybe it was too much yeast, making the ferment too clean. Some people like to underpitch their hefes to stress the yeast a little more than usual, causing them to create more esters and phenolics.
 

duboman

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To be short and sweet, no pun intended, your fermentation temps were just way too high regardless of pitching rate, type of yeast, whatever. The beer should have been fermented between 62-68 degrees. At 62 the beer would have gotten a nice balance of clove and banana, at 68 definitely more banana than clove(this will vary a bit depending on the yeast) but not over powering. Personally I go as low as 59-60 because I really prefer the clove and not a huge fan of the banana at all.

As you move on in brewing beer you must understand that yeast is the most important ingredient when it comes to brewing beer. Fermentation temperatures are directly related to the final products characteristics. I highly recommend the book "Yeast" co-written by Chris White of White labs.
 
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I was afraid of the possibility that there was nothing to do about this, but did expect this response. :eek: Thanks to all

Much thanks to allwho pitched in with their two cents. (I know, awful punny but I couldn't help myself, lol!). The input has been very insightful, and I will definitely apply this to the next time I try this. I have always been a fan of an excellent hefe, which this is clearly not.

I suppose I will consider augmenting at this point with some sort of addition, maybe blueberry perhaps? I'll hope that the end result will be something along the lines of a blueberry wheat. I doubt that I could make it much worse at this point, regardless of action taken. I've seen techniques posted in different forums in doing this, so I won't waste anyone's time with posing any questions until I've exhausted all the resources already there.

I used only the single sachet that came with the recipe, (I didn't annotate the type) so is the suggestion that if someone is to continue using the sachet, that I limit it to half of the total yeast provided, or something of that nature? (In order to under-pitch and achieve a 'less clean effect', as stated above by barrooze). I'm working under the assumption that if the temperature was too high, and it still didn't produce a large banana flavor, then I must have over-pitched. I ask not because I intend to continue using this type of yeast, but I do have friends that are getting into brewing and I would like to lead them down the correct path while they work within the limitations of partial mash, and kit recipes.

Either way, I'm pretty confident that at this point as long as I can create an environment with appropriate temperature control the rest of my technique leading up to pitching are at least under control to move to all-grain; learn by doing, I always say. At that point I will be taking the extra steps for careful creation of yeast slurries in the day(s) leading up to brewing, and much more careful in the selection of ingredients than I have been in the past. I went in knowing full well that sticking to the box recipe was severely limiting my options, and as I expected I've quickly become frustrated at the lack of control with the whole process...but baby steps in order to get things right.

duboman, thanks for the advice, I will purchase that book when I have the chance, and apply the knowledge from there, and of course I will be checking out the forums dedicated to yeasts.

I suppose at the very least, I'm glad that I can post correctly in the forums, and not get chided for being a noob asking questions that have already been covered extensively. :)
 

bucfanmike

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ill throw in my two-cents. Sounds like you used a dry yeast. Ive tried Hefes with the a dry yeast and did not like the results. I would suggest you try it with white labs WLP300. For this strain and to make a great hefe, i would just pour it in without making a starter. With this yeast 65-68 will give more clove, 70-72 more banana. Hefes are all about the yeast imo.
 
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Yes, definitely a dry yeast. While I understand quite a bit about hops, yeast is definitely my weak point. I'll be looking into as much literature as I can find, I'm sure there are plenty of books in addition to the one suggested above that could also be helpful...and I have no problem with creating a brewing library to draw on at any time. :)
 

hogwash

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IMO, you sshould get your fermentation temps in control before you star messing with yeast amounts, etc. One packet should be enough and probably not too much yeast for a 5 gallon batch.
 

ghpeel

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If you want a real Hefeweizen, do not re-brew this until you can work with liquid yeast. You will only be disappointed.

Hefe yeast is a strange beast in that the yeast manufacturers (Wyeast and Whitelabs) all say to ferment their yeasts at higher temps than what homebrewers are reporting as the best temps. For example, I like to use WLP380 Hefe IV from White Labs. Their recommended temp range is 66-70F, but virtually everyone who uses this yeast regularly, myself included, finds that the 60-63F range is FAR superior for well-balanced Hefes. I'm not sure why there is such a discrepency here, as I trust White Lab's temp range on all their other yeasts.
 
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+ 1 on yeast being crucial. I always have a Hefe on hand in a dunkel and I use White Labs WLP300 with great success. I ferment it at @65 degrees. I, also, brew an American hefe with WLP320 that has a cleaner profile.
 

av8er79

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I have the opposite problem. I fermented in the upper 70's and ended up with an overwhelming banana and very sweet beer. Doubt there is anything I can do at this point as well.
 

barrooze

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I have the opposite problem. I fermented in the upper 70's and ended up with an overwhelming banana and very sweet beer. Doubt there is anything I can do at this point as well.
Correct. Fermenting a hefe in the upper 70s will definitely give you a pronounced banana character. Did the beer finish fermenting and reach its FG? If there were residual sugars leftover, they could contribute to the sweetness. Otherwise, with those high ferment temps, the banana-y esters could be perceived as sweetness. The only way to fix it at this point is to drink it fast and re-brew, fermenting at a lower temp (WAY lower. try low to mid 60s).

An alternative to counter the sweetness, go contrary to traditional style and squeeze some lemon or lime into your glass. The acidity cuts the sweetness nicely. Good luck!
 

harrymanback92

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I ferment my hefes at 59-68F and find i get a very flavorful, balance between clove/banana.

Also, your mash can help. I strike at 108F, let it sit, and do a step mash to get to my sach temps. I've read that the rest at 108F creates the precursor compounds that will be metabolized into the clove flavor compounds.
 
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Hmmm...that's interesting. The overwhelming advice that I'm seeing is to ferment in the mid-60's, and I didn't get ANY kind of banana flavor in mine, I figured that this was the case. How is it that av8er79 got such a result? Now I'm confused. It seems like I should have gotten at least SOME banana flavor. Is there anything else that I could have done that would eliminate this flavor? At this point, it's a blah wheat beer so am in the process of experimenting. I had an awesome wheat-wine the other day, 50% aged in bourbon barrels and then blended with the original brew. I decided to put some oak chips in there, soaked in Jameson. We'll see how it turns out, I figure it couldn't be any worse than it is, but we shall see. Bottling in <1.5 weeks.
 

harrymanback92

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As stated before, it sounds like you used a dry yeast. You need to be using a liquid yeast, such as white labs 300, or a yeast meant for a hefeweizen. A hefeweizen yeast will provide the banana/clove flavor profile you're looking for. A dry yeast, like Nottingham, wouldn't create the flavor profile you're looking for.

Hefeweizen translates literally to "yeast and wheat". Using the right yeast is the only way to get the right flavors of a German Hefe. Doesn't mean you can't make a good ale, but I doubt you'll make a hefeweizen.

I just brewed my first hefe and it's delicious. Perfect banana/clove ratio. I made a 1qt starter and fermented in a range of 59-68(sticking mostly around 62F. I don't have the best fermentation temperature but living in San Francisco we get what I call natural air conditioning every night with the fog.)

You should also look at your mash schedule. I use a 60/40 split of wheat to pilsner. I than strike the grains with water at 108F. I then slowly bring the temperature up to 122F. To get to 122F it usually takes me 15min. At 122F I rest for 15-20min. Again I slowly bring up the temp to get to my first sach temp of 148F for 30-40min. Than I raise it to 158F for 20-30min and mash out at 168F for ten minutes. Vorlauf for 30min. Than sparge with 172F for 45min.

I can't find it at this moment but there's a good article in BYO about doing this sort of step mash for a hefe. It creates the precursor chemicals in the wort that a hefeweizen yeast will metabolize in order to create the phenols/esters you're looking for.

I look at making a hefeweizen like making really good Tuscan food. The idea behind Tuscan cuisine is that if you have really good, pure ingredients, you'll ruin the food by overcooking, or over seasoning. Simple grain bill, with good grain, high quality noble hops, and, most of all, a high quality yeast will make an amazing hefeweizen.

When I was in Germany I was blown away by how much better even the Hefe's we get in the states are when they're served fresh, from a keg, into a chilled wheat glass.

*ignore typos as this is sent from my phone*
 

ncbrewer

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harrymanback92

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At my homebrew store they only sell Nottingham, safale04 and us05 so I was assuming the op had been using something like that. Obviously a dry hefeweizen yeast would work; because it's a hefeweizen yeast. I assumed that if the op had no banana/clove favors he wasn't using a hefe yeast. He has yet to state what yeast he used.
 
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Ok, so I took the time to research this, which is admittedly something that I should have done earlier. According to the ingredients list on the 'True Brew' Bavarian Hefeweizen recipe kit, the yeast provided is Fermentis WB-06 Hefeweizen Yeast, again, a dry sachet. I usually take notes, so I can confirm what I have been doing but for some reason on this particular recipe I failed to do so, of course. While I can't verify 100% that I had 'eyes-on' to double check this, I think it's safe to assume that this was the yeast that I used...unless something sketchy happened, however the place I shop at is definitely higher-end and reputable. Thoughts?
 

ghpeel

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According to the ingredients list on the 'True Brew' Bavarian Hefeweizen recipe kit, the yeast provided is Fermentis WB-06 Hefeweizen Yeast, again, a dry sachet...Thoughts?
That yeast sucks. Well, at least for Hefeweizens. It makes a fine American Wheat Beer supposedly, but I don't care for it at all.

If you want a real Hefeweizen, then use WLP300 or WLP380 (or go Google for their Wyeast equivalent). I've never used the dry "Munich" brand of yeast, but I'd be skeptical. Honestly, this beer doesn't even really require a starter, so you just pop the top of the yeast tube and pour in the liquid.
 
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Awesome, good to know. Yeah, it's a decent wheat beer alright, but maybe because I expected more I decided to tweak it over a week to two weeks in secondary. We'll see what happens. Either way, I have two more kits to make, and those will be the last. I'm building an electric HERMS system and never looking back. All-grain from here on out, and I'll take the advice from this column on yeasts, as I've already talked my buddy into housing my chest freezer which I'll use for a fermentation chamber. :) This is only because the wife and I are temporarily moving into an apartment for the next year changing jobs, and I'm going to miss the space. :( Sometime soon I'll be setting up my secondary kitchen and after that point, this will all be a bad memory! lol!
 

Lennie

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My friend likes the Danstar Munich wheat yeast, I personally like WLP300 since it cranks out more banana and the wife likes that. The temp for ferm should be around 62F to get a nice balance of clove and banana. Closer to 70F and you get a banana bomb.
 
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