Aug 172012

So after a break of a month or two of brewing together, BrewJAM are back in business.  As an aside, I’ve decided not to post any more of the beers that I (James) have brewed on my own, as they aren’t as experimental or big (or as interesting to read about) as the beers we make as BrewJAM.

For this brew we decided to make a wheat beer.  We based it upon our Brau Weisse we brewed last year with a few changes.

We have upgraded several parts of the brewing process – for the first time ever there is no need to jug from one vessel to the next.  As well as this, we have a separate electric HLT for the first time and have hooked up everything before hand. Flavour emphasis for this brew is yeast strain rather than hops and we would like to experiment with adding fruits to flavour the beer.

Beer:  40l Wheat beer

Brew Date: 28/07/12

Brew Time:

Grain Bill – 40L Aim: 5.8%ABV  1.055 @ 70% efficiency

  • 5kg Pale Malt (47%)
  • 5kg raw crushed wheat (47%)
  • 0.7kg rolled Porridge Oats (6%)

Total grain bill: 10.7kg

The raw wheat was crushed in a Corona hand mill.

Corona Hand Mill & Raw Wheat from the barn

Muchos effort! Corona Hand Mill

The Crush

The Crush


40g x Hallertau Mittelfruh 5.2% AA – 60min 13.7 IBU

Aromatic and pleasant lager hops



We are splitting the beer into 2 for fermentation and using a different yeast strain in each one.

Danstar “Munich” 11g – (

Safbrew T-58 11.5g – (

Safbrew T58 & Danstar "Munich" Yeasts


The style follows a Belgian “Wit” which is conventionally 50% raw wheat and ~5% oats.  The sticky proteins in the wheat can make it almost impossible to sparge a mash like this so we have gone for the classic “double infusion” mash with an initial protein rest, 45-55C for 30 minutes followed by the typical 65C conversion rest. Both the wheat and the oats are essentially raw starch which needs “gelatinising” before the mash enzymes can convert them to useful sugars, fortunately the gelatinisation temperature for wheat is 58-64C and oats 53-59C so both will be converted readily in a 65C mash.

So the plan was a rest at 47ish for 30 min then add enough hot water at the right temperature to get the mash to 65C and end up with a water/grain ratio of 3L/kg.

Nice in theory, but we buggered this up massively.

Our second infusion fell 5 degrees short (it only just hit 60C!!) even though we allowed for our strike water being a little lower than boiling in the calculations! We had hoped that by increasing the water to grain ratio to 3L/kg for this brew (instead of our usual 1.5L) we could increase our mash efficiency and make sparging quicker and easier. However, we had already hit 3.2L/kg by the time we had added an extra kettle of boiling water so we decided to fix the mash by drawing off 6L or liquor for a partial Decoction mash. This portion was boiled and added back to the mash. Success! In hindsight I think we should have held this liquor at 65C for a few minutes before boiling to aid conversion a bit. (Matt)

Here is the actual data:

Protein rest – 46.2C 20minutes
Boiling water infusion 16L @ 92.7C =  60.4C

+ 1.6L Boiling water = 61.0C

Decoction 6L Boiling = 65.1C

 We then mashed for 1 hour once we hit 65C.

The final temp of the mash was 60.05C

Dough In


Fly Sparge

We recirculated a few Litres using the pump, (lots of floating straw / debris) and collected the wort straight into the 50L boiler. We figured that at 20% boil reduction we will need 48L and this is pretty much all we can fit into our 50L boiler anyway- so no point in measuring…. just fill the boiler up. We had a very liquid mash so hardly any sparge water was needed. The mash appeared to visibly swell and absorb water, a real protein gooey grey mass.

Sparge water was 85C


Fly Sparging with pump


Flat out to hot break & boiled for 1 hour. Single, loose hop addition at beginning of boil. Instead of the usual scourer as a hop strainer we used  James’s nifty “Bazooka” hop strainer.  There was an issue with the hop strainer getting blocked up with wheat crap – never happens when brewing with just pale malt.

Flash cooled to ~ 30C but as the hop strainer got blocked at the end, the last 5L or so we had to scoop out and run through a sieve.  This mean’t we couldn’t cool using the setup we had.  We ended up having to add last 5L of the hot wort back into the fermenters – therefore it was decided to leave overnight to cool in the fermenters.

8kw propane burner – 50L beer keg Boiler

Counter Flow cooler (two cornelius coolers piggy-backed)


The OG of the beer was 1.040.  Which was a bit lower than we hoped for – we were aiming for around  1.052 (or even a bit higher).

We have had some issues with bottle sanitization (or maybe just heavily soiled bottles as James’s new bottles have been fine) so we are trying out some different chemicals. The fermenters were cleaned with Bruclean and James got some starsan to try (though starsan was more for the Corny Kegs than bottles).

We split the beer into 2 FVs:

20L – Danstar “Munich”

21L –  Safbrew T-58


Yeast rehydration

2 x fermenters


No Fruit this time – but would be great for dividing up some future brews. Commercial beers such as Kriek & Fruli are pasteurised in bottle and so use fruit syrups at bottling time. Which in our opinion is cheating. 😉




40 x 41L = 1640

1640/ 3271.9 potential = 50.12% efficiency

Yet another low wheat beer efficiency. 🙁



Both great tasting and clearly very different tasting beers, surprising as only the yeast are different! Great foamy head, fruity flavours and actually after a few months of conditioning in kegs dropped into a clear and light amber colouration similar to some strong lagers. Producing a light and fruity beer with still enough body. High carbonation essential to bring out the characteristic mouthfeel. Good brew and reproduce-able.



I read somewhere that enzymes are most active in the first 20minutes of the mash, need to read a bit more around this so not sure how true it is. If so one reason for our dropped efficiency could be the length of time it took us to hit 65C (~1/2 an hour) this method is a large strain on the mash enzymes anyway. Also the fact I cooked the decoction without allowing a conversion range would have murdered all the enzymes in the 6L portion. The malt was much fresher than our last attempt but still a few months old. TBF we still got the quantity of beer than we wanted so everything is rosey 🙂 we can just make a lot more if we figure it out. Grain bed temp at the end of the mash was down to 60.05C, Ideally to sparge we should be looking at more like 80C. Although our sparge water was hot at 85 it is likely due to the thin mash that we didn’t raise the grain bed temp nearly enough during our sparge. Another time we could remedy this by taking another “Large” decoction to increase the grain bed to mash out and use the pump to recirculate the hot water around.





 August 17, 2012  Posted by