Revamped Hefeweizen (all-grain)

In my endless quest to brew the ultimate utopian hefeweizen of my dreams, I decided to take all the feedback I got on my last Hefe and really see if I could take it one step closer to the taste I picture in my head.  I know I’m gonna kick myself for changing to many things from the last recipe, but I feel like all of these things will present themselves independently if they truly affect the beer in some way.  Here are the new elements:

  • Wheat to everything else ratio: 40% (down from ~%60)
  • Specialty grains: victory, munich, vienna, white-wheat and flaked wheat (rather than just munich)
  • Step mash using a protein rest @ 131F before normal 154F rest. (rather than straight 152F)
The constants were the yeast and hops, although I changed the second hop addition time from 30min all the way down to 6min. Why?  30min hop additions contribute hop flavor to the beer. The past two hefeweizens didn’t have the best why keep the hops there? 6min will only give hop aroma, and the Hallertauer hop is pretty mild so it shouldn’t do much harm either way.  I adjusted my volumes and grain amount for a 6 gallon batch, because I found a pretty good “how-to” on step mashing Hefe’s which was a larger batch size, so take note of that.
  • 4 lb Pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 2.5 lb Wheat malt (Weyermann)
  • 2.5 lb White Wheat malt (Briess)
  • 1 lb Munich (Weyermann)
  • 1 lb Vienna (Weyermann)
  • 0.5 lb Victory malt (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb Flaked wheat
  • 1 oz Hallertauer (60 min)
  • 1 oz Hallertauer (6 min)
  • WYeast 3068 Weihenstephaner
// BEGIN BEER-NERD INFO // Strike water 142, 3.9 gal, brought mash to ~134F, need to lower this more next time to hit 131F. Boiled 2 gal water on the side, added after 20 min.  Added 2.2 gal @ 202F to bring mixture to ~152F. Mash for 60 minutes longer, then sparge w/ 168F water to collect 8 gallons. Boil 90 min, collect 5 gallons wort. Pitch yeast (no starter), aerate and seal. OG 1.042 // END BEER-NERD INFO //
After an intense 90 minute boil of the 8 gallons, I wound up with around 6 gallons of wort but had some much hop trub in the bottom of my boil kettle that I wound up with an even 5 gallons of “clean” wort.  So the larger batch size actually was alright.  I’m reading a few books on brewing and they’ve noted that anything you pass on into the fermentor from your boil kettle (i.e. hop gunk) will contribute in some way to the flavor, whether you want it to or not, so leave it behind if you can. Worth a shot, right?
UPDATE: Racked after 6 days in the primary (no activity in airlock).  When I opened up the lid, there was tons of yeast still on the surface of the beer. Interesting. The gravity read 1.008 so it’s definitely done fermenting, but there was also little to no yeast on the bottom of the primary where it normally has dropped out.  The smell is pretty good; normal banana, wheaty, hefe smell. The mouthfeel is very light and thin from the low gravity result, but the overall taste is much improved from the last batch.  It’s just a much more well-rounded hefeweizen, if that makes any sense. I’ll definitely need to up the grains next time and possible mash higher for more body.
Slowly but surely, this hefeweizen is reaching its potential.  As I mentioned, the taste is much more balanced. At first I was noticing some slight DMS flavor (grainy, cooked corn taste, likely from the increased pilsner malt), but once the beer was cold and carbonated it was gone.  Though, in the future, I’ll probably decrease the pilsner malt and accommodate with more of the other stuff (not wheat) for more robust flavor and some character.  It’s super cloudy and unfiltered-looking (no doubt from the mash protein rest at 131F), but the head is lacking; I later read that using a protein rest on fully-modified malts (which I am using) will do this, so next time I’ll skip that.  I’m confident that moving the hops towards the end of the boil was a good move for a few reasons; one, it lets the malt flavors come out a little more (I think I’d only reserve 30 min hop additions for very clean, crisp beers, like lagers.), and two, the late addition helps to cover up any funky hefeweizen yeast smells that might have crept in during fermentation (which is bound to happen since I’m fermenting warmer than I “should”) with some gentle earthy hop aromas from the Hallertauer variety.
This beer’s certainly tasty, but it’s still not quite there yet.  I think I really need to sit down and analyze some well-known hefeweizens and then do a serious makeover on this.  But, I’m also getting pickier and pickier with each batch I make (which is probably a good thing), so, maybe the me-from-last-year would think this beer is spot on. Who knows.  I think two or three more iterations and this beer will match the hefeweizen in my head that I’m craving.  Prost!

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