Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Homebrewing III: Honey Hefeweizen

This time I decided to brew a hefeweizen, which is a beer that has a grain profile made up of about 1/2 malted wheat and characteristic cloudiness due to yeast in suspension. A hefeweizen is not my favorite style, but I do enjoy it when I'm hanging out with friends, at a BBQ, or when I just want to drink something refreshing without having to think too hard. Again, I started with a Home Sweet Homebrew kit as the base, their Wascal Wheat, what they describe as a Bavarian-style Hefeweizen. To this kit, I added 1 lb each of malted wheat and Carapils and 2 lbs of Honey. The wheat is to add a little more grain flavor and spiciness, Carapils is for body, and the Honey contributes a some floral character but mostly to bump up the alcohol level.

Similar to the Brown Ale I previously brewed, this beer required mashing the grains in 155F water and sparging (rinsing) with 170F water. This liquid and some water were boiled with the malt extract and the Hallertau hops for 60 minutes before being cooled and dry yeast was pitched. I fermented in the plastic bucket for 5 days before transferring to the glass carboy to finish. I made a little mistake and added a bit too much water so the beer didn't all fit in the carboy, but I improvised and made another fermenter out of an extra 1 gallon water jug I had laying around.

This beer has been very interesting to watch because unlike the other beers I've made, the yeast never really settled out. Usually, most yeast will floccuate (coagulate and drop out of suspension) after some time when fermentation is almost over, but this beer after 2 weeks of fermentation was still very hazy with many streams of CO2 bubbles rising to the top. The yeast seems to work a little slower than the yeasts I've used because after 2 weeks the specific gravity was still 1.020, which means there is still a lot of unfermented sugar left in solution. I waited another week to bottle so that the yeast to do some more work making some more alcohol and conditioning the beer.

For Chinese New Year, I bottled one 22 oz bottle a little before it was ready just to be able to share with everyone. This beer wasn't anyone's favorite as it has very distinct clove, banana, and citrus flavors, but I liked it. For this style of beer, the yeast provides the majority of the flavors, so it is important to use a good reliable yeast strain and keep it happy. In the winter, I keep my house on the cooler side, so the beer fermented at a much lower temperature, which keeps down the off-flavors and promotes formation of the good flavors.

I bottled this beer last week, but when it's fully carbonated and ready, I'll post a picture of it.

Geek Stats:
Grain Bill and Sugars: 6.6 lb Weizen Malt Extract, 1 lb Wheat Malt, 1 lb Carapils Malt, 2 lb Honey, 5 oz Honey for priming
Hops: 1 oz Hallertau (60min)
Yeast: Safbrew WB-06
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.017
ABV: 5%