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What flavour does malted wheat contribute?

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mrkeeg

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I'm curious.

I see wheat often used:
-for head size/retention (Small amounts)
-for cloudy appearance (small amounts)
-in combination with special yeasts or flavourings that result in very distinct beers (larger amounts)

So... what does wheat malt itself bring as a flavour to beer? If you brewed a straight-forward lager with 30-40% wheat, what would be the taste difference between that and a standard all-barley malt lager?

Thoughts?
Thanks!
 

jmansfield

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this is a great question. I think a blind taste test would be revealing. I think wheat makes for a different mouthfeel and some describe it as adding "chewiness" to the beer. I bet I would struggle to tell a difference in the taste test. Depending on the yeast used you might get some noticable differences though.
 
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mrkeeg

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Big Rock in Calgary makes a very clean, crisp, clear wheatbeer (called "Grasshopper") They say it is an ale... I might have to re-taste-test it tonight.
 

MattHollingsworth

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Best way to sample the flavor for yourself is to buy a wheat beer that uses a neutral yeast rather than a yeast with a lot of character. For me here, that'd be Erdinger. Widmer also uses (I think) just Wyeast 1007 German Ale in their wheat beer, so it's not all banana and cloves. If you drink one of those, you get more of the wheat character showing through so you can judge for yourself...
 
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mrkeeg

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Cool well thanks for the thoughts. Made a straightforward, clean ale today with:

5 lb pale 2-row
3 lb malted wheat
1.5 lb vienna
.5 light crystal

Set it up with S-05 and a cool ferment... We'll see how it comes!

(Bittered with centennial, but finished with some saaz I've been dying to use... weird I know.. but we'll see?) ("Cream of wheat" Ale?)
 

pjj2ba

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this is a great question. I think a blind taste test would be revealing. I think wheat makes for a different mouthfeel and some describe it as adding "chewiness" to the beer. I bet I would struggle to tell a difference in the taste test. Depending on the yeast used you might get some noticable differences though.
+1 on this. I like a little bit of wheat in my ales fo help round out the body. In higher percentages, you might also get a slight sour tinge
 
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mrkeeg

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Reporting back on the experiment (... a term I use loosely... a proper experiment would have involved a parallel recipe with extra 2row in place of the wheat, and everything else the same...)

My hope was that the fairly basic recipe would let the character of the wheat shine through, and I think it worked, to a degree.

I'm not sure this will help anyone else at all, but it gave me a bit of a sense of what the wheat would contribute. To my underdeveloped palate, there is a certain 'zing' in both aroma and taste that I haven't tasted in my other beers. There is a bit of extra 'fullness' of mouth-feel. I guess I could agree with the "chewiness" comment, even in this light beer.

I wish I had better words to describe taste and aroma. There is an aroma I recognize from fruit-wheat beers, which I had always associated with the fruit, but I guess I was wrong.

Anyone else trying this recipe 'for educational purposes' may wish to use more malted wheat (trade 1:1 for the 2row), to really see where it took the taste. I think you could get away with another pound at least, especially if you used rice hulls in the mash.

On a side note... I love hops, but other taste-testers have told me the finish is too bitter, so maybe I would tone that down in a subsequent "pale wheat" (1oz of 11.5% centennial at 60, 0.5oz saaz at 15 and flamout) Overall, the beer is enjoyable but a bit hollow in the center (nice aroma, then a tasty finish with a bit of bitter aftertaste... but not much in between. Also, did not clear very well, even with irish moss in the boil and gelatin in the secondary (I probably could have cold crashed for longer than a day, though....)
 

ghpeel

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Gosh, it is hard to describe the flavor of wheat in a beer now that you mention it. I think slight tart/creamy/bready flavors are what I associate with wheat.

Find and Oberon and drink it. There is some other stuff going on there, but its a good example of a wheat beer that doesn't use real hefeweizen yeast.

Here's a tasty & simple recipe via Jamil:
4 lb 2-Row
4 lb Malted Wheat
1.50 oz Willamette @ 60min
0.50 oz Willamette @ 1
0.33 oz Centennial @1
US-05 dry yeast

I've made it before and it was enjoyed by the BMC crowd for sure. Friend of mine did it with some ginger & lemon zest and it was a close clone to Sam Adam's Summer Ale.
 

david_42

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I can see where a really bitter wheat would be a problem, not much there to balance it.
 

LexusChris

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I brewed a similar wheat beer recipe, and enjoyed the results. I used Mt. Hood for bittering, and Liberty for flavor hops.. kept the IBU's around 26, mashed at 150-F, and used an english ale yeast. It was a very crisp & dry wheat with that distinct 'tang' of wheat... (suitable for summer BBQ's and poolside pontificating!)

I guess you would call that wheat 'tang' a sour flavor, but it blends well with other malts. Adding a crisp dry mouthfeel, and a thick billow-y head. :)

I also like to add a small addition of wheat to my IPA's for the same reason..
:mug:
--lexuschris
 

Brewsmith

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Wheat, malted or otherwise. is not sour. It has a different flavor than barley, but not sour. Any sour/tart flavors in beer brewed with wheat are more likely a source from yeast strain, hops, or possible infection.

Wheat is, very obviously, more "bready" than barley and to me, has a lighter, more subtle flavor. By itself, plain malted wheat can be easily be overpowered by estery yeast or big hop flavor and aroma. That's not to say that wheat can't be wonderful. My 100% wheat beer used four different wheat malts that I could get a hold of, wheat malt, dark what, cara wheat and chocolate wheat. I did it as a clean lager and it came out fantastic. No sourness, but a tasty amber lager with a touch of sweetness and some toasty, chocolate notes. I'm brewing it again soon, so I will post results when I have it.

http://members.dslextreme.com/users/musicsmith/Recipes/#69_Wheat_Lager.html
 

ghpeel

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Wheat, malted or otherwise. is not sour. Any sour/tart flavors in beer brewed with wheat are more likely a source from yeast strain, hops, or possible infection.
Meah. I've heard others say the same thing, but to my tastebuds (ymmv), wheat does have a "sour" twang. Its not the same as an infection (accidental or intentional) and I love sour beers. But fresh wheat beer, even the stuff made by the big breweries, has that ever so slightly sour taste. Lots of others here have made the same comment.

I think when we say "sour" its not the sourness that you are thinking of. We just don't have a better word for it.
 

Brewsmith

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But fresh wheat beer, even the stuff made by the big breweries, has that ever so slightly sour taste. Lots of others here have made the same comment.
And what I believe you are tasting is the yeast and it's by-products.

Just because others post it, doesn't make it true.

I have made numerous wheat beers. My Hefeweizens and Dunkelweizens are close to 70% wheat, with no sourness. They do have the fruity, clovey, banana, sometimes almost spicy flavors associated with the yeast. I've used the popular yeast strains for traditional German wheat beers, equilvent to the White Labs 300, 351, and 380. The yeast can produce some tart flavors, but nothing I'd call sour. The American ones are closer to a Kolsch strain, that also flocculates poorly, leaving alot of yeast in suspension. Pyramid uses a lager yeast to the same effect.

I'm not trying to bash here, and I know the flavors we are all trying to describe, so maybe sour just isn't the right word. Maybe we need to be more descriptive in what we taste, and try to think of all the components that go into the complex flavors of beer and many different processes and points along the process where we can manipulate flavors. Grain bill, hop selection, hop schedule, yeast strain, pitching rate, aeration technique, fermentation temperature, water chemestry, and fermenter shape are just some of the factors that go in the finished beer's flavors. Saying that the wheat itself is what causes the sour flavors is a little simplistic. Is it clove, spicey, fruity? Is the bitterness woody, piney, minty, floral or citrusy? Let's expand our palate a little.

I'll close with a description from Beer Advocate about Wheat Malt. No mention of sour in there.

''Wheat - Wheat malt, for obvious reasons, is essential in making wheat beers. Wheat is also used in malt-based beers (3–5%) because its protein gives the beer a fuller mouthfeel and enhanced beer head stability. On the down side, wheat malt contains considerably more protein than barley malt, often 13 to 18%, and consists primarily of glutens that can result in beer haze. Compared to barley malt it has a slightly higher extract, especially if the malt is milled somewhat finer than barely malt. European wheat malts are usually lower in enzymes than American malts, probably because of the malting techniques or the varieties of wheat used.

Unmalted wheat often is used as an adjunct by brewers who wish to enhance head retention and foam stability. It also contributes to the body or "palate fullness" of the beer. Its high content of proteins greatly enhances foam stability. Beers made from significant amounts of wheat adjuncts are likely to be light in flavor and smooth in taste qualities. Wheat adjuncts are used in the same manner as barley adjuncts; but unlike with barley, there is almost no husk in wheat. Thus, tannins are not much of a problem. The gelatinization temperature range for wheat is between 52 and 64ºC.''

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/malts

I'm done with this one, I'll leave it alone from here.
 

LexusChris

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Well, I'll agree that finding just the right word to describe it ... is tough for me. I wish I had a better tasting vocab for it. Sour, tart, tangy seem to jump to mind for me.

It is not the yeast. I've brewed recipes with WLP007 Dry English, WLP001 Calif. Ale and WLP051 Calif. Ale V yeasts... and in IPAs, wheats & browns... all have the wheat taste (which I really enjoy).

Commercial wheat varieties I"ve tried have the flavor too: Pyramid, Paulaner, ShockTop, Blue Moon ... and I believe that is before you get the clove, banana, citrus, spice flavors.

I think rye malt adds more of a simliar flavor too. Again, wish I had a better way to describe it. But it is tasty! :)

Try it and judge for yourself. Have fun!
--LexusChris
 

CAvellan

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I have made numerous wheat beers. My Hefeweizens and Dunkelweizens are close to 70% wheat, with no sourness. They do have the fruity, clovey, banana, sometimes almost spicy flavors associated with the yeast. I've used the popular yeast strains for traditional German wheat beers, equilvent to the White Labs 300, 351, and 380. The yeast can produce some tart flavors, but nothing I'd call sour. The American ones are closer to a Kolsch strain, that also flocculates poorly, leaving alot of yeast in suspension. Pyramid uses a lager yeast to the same effect.
Brewsmith, have you ever used a dry yeast that produce no "sourness" (lack of a better term) with 70% wheat? I am really curious which and where I can find it. Thanks in advance.
 

McKnuckle

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Brewsmith posted that 10 years ago and was last seen on HBT in Dec. 2019. :)

Try a lager yeast, and follow protocol for fermenting a lager (cool, limit esters, etc.). I brewed a simple lager with pilsner, pale ale, flaked barley, and wheat (25%). My daughter, who has no real idea what's in beer, spontaneously said "It has, like, a really fresh wheat flavor." I did a double take.

"Slight tart/creamy/bready flavors" is what I'd also state. Not sour, though.
 

Orangecrusher

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Hello all, first post.
I was gonna ask a similar question as I've never ran a recipe that used wheat malt until just last week.
I have just finished building a new brewroom and to try it out for the first time I chose to do a super easy kit beer. It was a kolsch hybrid kit with extract, grain bag, and malt powder. No matter how many times I read the instructions I could not find where to use the 2lb of Wheat DME because the instructions referred to it only as DME and put it in the hop schedule to be boiled late (last twenty minutes I think). In a panic and not finding any guidance I put it in right after the main extract and boiled for 60 minutes.

Not knowing what a short boil of wheat DME is supposed to impart on the taste I'm thinking something sutle. Unfortunately, I have no idea how I have altered the recipe by boiling it longer. I was just curious what people thought. Sounds like maybe more of a sour taste. The Kolsche recipe was pretty simple so I'm thinking it was in there just to add a little more body or mouth feel? Hope I didn't ruin it...
we'll see
 

brewgar

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Hello all, first post.
I was gonna ask a similar question as I've never ran a recipe that used wheat malt until just last week.
I have just finished building a new brewroom and to try it out for the first time I chose to do a super easy kit beer. It was a kolsch hybrid kit with extract, grain bag, and malt powder. No matter how many times I read the instructions I could not find where to use the 2lb of Wheat DME because the instructions referred to it only as DME and put it in the hop schedule to be boiled late (last twenty minutes I think). In a panic and not finding any guidance I put it in right after the main extract and boiled for 60 minutes.

Not knowing what a short boil of wheat DME is supposed to impart on the taste I'm thinking something sutle. Unfortunately, I have no idea how I have altered the recipe by boiling it longer. I was just curious what people thought. Sounds like maybe more of a sour taste. The Kolsche recipe was pretty simple so I'm thinking it was in there just to add a little more body or mouth feel? Hope I didn't ruin it...
we'll see
Long boil of DME results in a darker wort then a shorter boil of DME. That's about the only difference.
 
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