Beer: Brau Weisse 5%ABV 15IBU
Brew Date: 29/10/11
Brew Time: 6pm to 12pm (clock went back an hour due to daylight savings time, so 7 hours)
Bastardised version of the Erdinger Hefe Weissbier recipe from the CAMRA “Brew Classic European Beers” book. Matt has had quite a lot of experience brewing witt style beers, so we weren’t expecting too many problems. Raw wheat was taken from the farm we brew on, at start of brew we went into the barn and grabbed a couple of buckets worth. The wheat was the crushed using a hand grain mill. At least an hour was spent crushing the 4.62kg of raw wheat. This was the first brew after quite a break (3/4 year or so), so ingredients were all pretty old. This caused issues, which we will go into later on. The method of brewing “witt” harks back to some of the most historical or “cultural brews” still brewed today in Belgium.
Grain Bill – 40L 5%ABV OG1.050 @ 70% Efficiency
- 4.62kg Pale Malt
- 4.62 Raw Wheat (crushed)
Total grain bill: 11.24kg
Hops – 60 min boil, 15IBU
- 8.5g Tettnang (4.8%)
- 13g Saaz (3.2%)
- 19g Hallertau (3.2%)
Finishing off hops in freezer. Used Palmers to match hops available to hops in the original recipe. I love the smell of Tettnang hops.
This brew used a double infusion mash. The initial temperature rest is intended to be 50 C with 1l/kg of water, this facilitates protease enzymes to breakdown the sticky proteins in the mash and increase the grain-bed fluidity for later sparging. This rest equates to 9.2l of water at a temperature of 64.3 C added to the grain. In reality this resulted at a mash of temperature 51.2 C. So pretty much perfect. This was then left for 45 min to do its thing. We then added boiling water to get the mash temperature up to 65C (64 C is upper end of wheat gelatinisation). This should be 5.5l boiling water. Hit the expected 65 C exactly. Left for 1 hour. Final mash temp 56 C. this is about 5 C lower than we were hoping for. Mash tun possibly needs to be better insulated. Or maybe we should mash somewhere that wasn’t outside, in winter and cold.
Water was heated to 83.5 C. We were aiming to collect 48l of wort. This is the 40l we want, plus 20% to allow for boil reduction. We actually collected 50l over 45 min. The flow was sluggish, but the 50 C rest during mash has clearly enhanced the grain bed fluidity. There was a distinct difference between the soupy first runnings and final almost clear runnings.
All 50l were put in boiler and it was set to full blast. Didn’t bother with hot break. Hops were added as soon as wort was boiling. We then left to boil for 60min.
Dumped liquid straight from boil into fermenters collecting 38l. Slightly higher loss due to boil than expected – 24% as opposed to 20%. Liquid was split equally between fermenters then both topped up with 1l of water to gain the required 40l.
Safale T-58 yeast was pitched dry and split equally between the two fermenters. A 1/2 “krausen had formed after 2 days and had hit the FG of 1.010 within 4! This is a potent yeast that can reputedly ferment up to 13%ABV and beyond.
Beer was stored in corny kegs for 1 month and then approx 20l was bottled for James, while the other half remained in corny for Matt.
A fresh fruity beer, cloudy amber/ straw colour and fruit on the nose. Easy to drink and not at all heavy.
We only achieved 45% efficiency (1280 / 2850 max HWE points). The method used to make the wheat beer is sound as we have achieved 80% efficiency using the same method in 2010, but with a slightly higher ratio of malt to wheat – 60:40 instead of 50:50. Issues that could have caused this lack of efficiency include:
- Old grain – the Pale malt we used was over 1yr old and pre-crushed so will have dramatically lost enzyme activity.
- Mash Tun – the drop to 56 C during the final part of the mash – ideally it should have been above 60 C at finish.
- Stupidity – we could have screwed something up.
Initial taste was very watery due to our poor efficiency. So to fix this 500g spray malt, 1.5kg liquid malt extract (medium) and 500g glucose were disolved and boiled in 1 l of water to sanitise. This was then split equally between the 2 fermenters. This raised the ABV from a poor 2.6ish% to 5%. This has given a decent body to the beer, and it is very close to being a Leffe clone. The malt extract (medium) has darkened the beer. Matt was particularly concerned that at such a low ABV and with plenty of nutritious protein this beer could have been at a heigh risk of infection.
Urgh, lots of work for this brew. Low ABV beers mean a lot more sanitising of equipment, which also means a lot more work. Hand grinding wheat is tedious and time consuming, even with multiple people to do it in shifts. Next time we will increase the second infusion water volume to 2.5kg/l total as while the mash consistency was good, it was possibly too thick. We should probably do starch test on sample of mash to calculate percentage conversion of starch. Adding malt extract saved brew from being watery and pretty poor.
Here is a photo of the final product, being drunk on another brew day. It tastes especially good with a heigh carbonation, essential. Wheat beers are also best drank young.