Hefeweizen.. or is it? (all-grain)

  • 6 lb Wheat malt
  • 3 lb Pilsner malt
  • 1 oz Hallertauer (4.3 % aa) 60 min
  • 1 oz Hallertauer (4.3 % aa) 30 min
  • White Labs Hefeweizen yeast WLP300

For a while now I’ve really been wanting to try an all-grain German style Hefeweizen.  A fellow homebrewer and friend, Greg B., explained to me that once you make an all-grain Hefeweizen, you’ll be forever changed. For the better.  He has an excellent food / beer / wine blog, aptly named Food And Wine Blog, which I highly suggest you check out for all things fine drink and eating related; reviews, recipes, interviews with brewers, etc.

This particular Hefe recipe is from TastyBrew.com.  This also is the first all-grain hefe I’ve attempted, so I’m eager to see the result compared to some extract-based ones I’ve done prior.

// EDIT 9/27/13: This starter is actually way too strong. See my later posts on a better way to make a yeast starter. // Make a starter using roughly 1/2 lb wheat DME, and 1.5 quarts water. Mix, stir, bring to a boil for 15 minutes, then let sit in an ice bath to chill to about 75 degrees F. Add about 10 ice cubes to the mixture to cool the mini wort even faster, which will add a little more water to it, too.  Shake yeast and combine with wort into a 1 gallon jug.  Shake vigorously then seal and let sit for a day before pitching. You should have a nice yeast cake grow and consolidate on the bottom.

I ran a 60 minute mash at around 156F to hopefully try and preserve some more body in the beer. I also did a 90 minute boil to really try and cut down on any signs of DMS flavor, something I’ve noticed a little bit in my previous beers. It’s a pretty common flavor in homebrew (sometimes it’s common even in commercial in lagers.. my Marzen had some signs of it, but was still really excellent!).  DMS tastes like cooked corn, cooked cabbage, or, to me, like an old Budweiser that’s been left out in the sun for a while.  Apparently, the precursor to DMS can  be created while you’re cooling the wort; it starts to repopulate after the boil in a certain temperature range (I think >160F? not sure), so the faster you cool the beer, the less of that flavor you’ll have (supposedly).  After cooling down to ~80F, my OG was a little lower than i wanted (1.039), so I’ll likely end up with around 4% ABV or so.  Then I pitched the entire starter into the wort (shaking it good beforehand), and began the waiting game.

I don’t normally do this, but this time I racked the beer directly from the primary into the keg after 5 days.  Using a secondary carboy helps to clarify the beer a little bit, but since this is a wheat beers and we wanna keep it cloudy it really doesn’t need it.

Before I even took a sip, I was expecting, well, a Hefeweizen. Something with that great, weiss-y German flavor and lots of banana and clove from the yeast.  There really wasn’t much of that at all, actually.  It tasted very similar to the wit I made previously.  The white labs hefeweizen yeast may not have done what I was expecting in terms of flavor, and also, I did use belgian malts (instead of German, like with the Marzen), so that may be why we’re not so on the German flavor side.  But hey, it’s cool to see that these Belgian malts are what makes this distinctive taste!  Very similar color to my previous wit, too.  Both definitely have monster, fluffy, cloud-like heads.

It didn’t come out at all as I was expecting, but it was still a decent easy-drinking beer.  I served this beer at a party and people quickly became friends with it.  Next time I’ll switch over to German malts (Weyermann) and use a different yeast – probably WYeast Weihenstephaner which I’ve had good results with before. Cheers!

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