A Home Brewer’s Personal Journey through His Craft – Part 6
So far we have chronicled 17 of the 100 bottles of beer including unlucky number 13, my first failure. Failure is NOT an option, so we continue on fearlessly into the next 83 brews.
The next brew on our path is my first wheat or weizen beer. You may recall from part 3 of this epic, my friend Mike’s distaste for the style. Wheat beers are usually pale yellow to orange and most are unfiltered and cloudy. This cloudiness comes from the specific strain of yeast used which generally does not flocculate or settle out well and stays suspended in the beer. This is typically called a Hefeweizen, meaning wheat with yeast. Hefeweizens are traditionally served with a slice of lemon.
The World of Weizen
There are many subcategories to the basic weizen style:
Weizenbier or Weissbier is a Southern German style which is light in body and hops, yeasty, effervescent, and slightly sour with the aroma and flavor of clove and banana. These flavors are referred to as esters and are produced by the yeast. ABV is 4-5%
Dunkelweiss is a darker version of Weizenbier with a chocolaty maltiness that tones down the esters. ABV is 5-6%
Weizenbock is a stronger, more robust wheat which can be either light (helles) or dark (dunkel) ABV is 6-8%
Berliner-weisse can contain 75% or more malted wheat and undergoes a combination of yeast and lactic bacterial fermentations which produces a unique tart sourness. ABV is around 3%
For all styles to be truly considered weizen they must contain at least 50% wheat malt. I prefer to say at least 55% or over half the extracts or grain bill. Less than that may still be a wheat beer but not a weizen. They must also use a specific hefe or yeast. Most are cloudy and are true hefeweizens or they can be filtered which is known as a kristalweiss or kristalweizen.
My First Weizen
So, back to my first weizen, Earl Duck’s Weizen, which comes from Homebrew Favorites, and is credited to Thomas J. O’Connor, III, MD of Rockport, ME. This is a six gallon recipe.
Earl Duck’s Weizen
- 6.6 lbs Irek’s wheat LME
- 3 lbs M&F light DME
- 9 oz German 5.5L crystal malt
- 9 oz British pale malt
- 10 oz clover honey
- 2 oz Hallertau Hersbruker hop plugs (60 min)
- 1 oz Hallertau Hersbruker hop plugs (10 min)
- 1/4 tsp gypsum
- 1 tsp Irish Moss (15 min)
- 1 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
- Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Wheat
- Priming: 1 cup corn sugar & 1/3 cup light DME
As usual, some of the extracts and malts are changed from the original recipe due to availability and the yeast was changed from 3056 Bavarian Wheat to the 3068. I also added the honey just to bump up the fermentable content a bit and increased both hop additions by ½ oz each.
As I recall, the Irek’s LME was a 100% wheat malt extract. I do not know if it is still available. Most wheat LME or DME is 55/45 or 60/40 wheat/barley.
Hop plugs are the same as pellets just in ½ oz size plugs, one big pellet. I haven’t seen these in a while and do not know if they are still available either.
Brought milled grains to boil in 2 gallons cold water; strained out and sparged grains; added extracts, honey, and gypsum and returned to boil; adding hops and moss at times indicated. 60 minutes total boil time.
This recipe is for 6 gallons as opposed to 5 gallons as all have been up to this point. Because of that, this will be the first time I did the primary fermentation in a glass carboy instead of a plastic bucket. Now, while you can pour hot wort directly into a plastic bucket, you cannot do that in a carboy. The thermal shock may shatter the glass. To prevent this, fill the carboy with at least half the final volume of cold water. This will absorb the thermal shock of the hot wort and protect the carboy. Then top the carboy to the desired volume with more cold water, in this case, the total volume should be 6 ½ gallons.
Carboys are available in various sizes. I have 3 gallon, 5 gallon, and 7 gallon carboys. I use the 3 gallon for small specialty or experimental brews. The 7 gallon is the workhorse carboy used for primary fermentation due to the extra head space for the fermentation activity. The five gallon is used as the secondary fermenter where activity should be minimal as the yeast and trub settle out and the beer clears.
Obviously, for this beer, we are using the 7 gallon for the primary. In this case, I did not use a secondary and did only a single stage fermentation in the primary.
A Physics Lesson
You probably noticed the increased priming sugars; this is due to the larger volume of beer. This also leads us into a little lesson in mathematics, physics, and volumes of liquid. I thought far enough ahead to realize I cannot ferment 6 gallons of beer in a fermentation bucket designed for 5 gallon brews; thus, the 7 gallon carboy. Unfortunately, it did not occur to me that I cannot bottle 6 gallons with a 5 gallon bottling bucket.
So, I boiled up the priming sugars, poured them into the bucket, and began racking the beer into the bucket. What a surprise! It won’t all fit! I did not lose a whole gallon but it was close. The more important problem; I now have priming sugars intended for 6 gallons in a 5 gallon batch. It will very likely be over-carbonated.
The beer turned out quite good. It was over-carbonated but had a nice champagne-like mouth feel. It had an estery citrus-clove flavor with no banana ester. What was really odd; while most where over-carbed, some even gushers; there were some bottles completely flat. I can only guess that they were not securely capped and the increased CO2 pressure leaked out. There was no obvious sign of leakage but do not know what else it could be.
I did not take any gravity readings so do not know the ABV. The original recipe indicated the OG 1.053 an FG 1.020 which would be about 4.3% ABV.
The next beer on our journey is Orange Blossom Amber and comes from an on-line beer recipe database which was known as Cat’s Meow. As of this writing I can no longer find this on the internet. It appears to have last existed at brewery.org, but that site will no longer open or perhaps was just down at the time I was trying to find it. If anyone out there knows if or where Cats’ Meow still exists, send a comment with the info. There were hundreds of beer recipes on this site which were all user contributed. Some were very detailed and some were a bit sketchy, but all were a good source for ideas.
In searching for the web site I found there to be a commercially brewed beer available by the same name, Orange Blossom Amber, made by Indian Wells Brewing Co. in California. Their web site states it to be an American Lager made with fresh orange peels. Sounds good to me but I have not had the opportunity to try it. The following recipe is not that beer.
Orange Blossom Amber
- 6.6 lbs Northwestern Amber LME
- 2 cups Orange Blossom Honey
- 1/2 lb crystal malt 40L
- 1 1/2 oz Hallertau Hersbrucker hop plugs (47 min)
- 1/2 oz Hallertau Hersbrucker hop plugs (2 min)
- 1 tsp Irish Moss (15 min)
- 2 pkg M&F ale yeast
- Priming: 1 ½ cups light DME
There was nothing special about the process for this one. Milled the crystal myself with my new hand crank grain mill, slow but works well. The odd boil times for the hops come from intending a total 45 minute boil but forgetting the second addition of hops until the end so just let it boil two extra minutes.
I was out of corn sugar for priming so used straight DME. However, this was a mistake as the recipe called for using more orange blossom honey for priming. I just forgot until it was too late.
Beer was good with a lingering bitterness that would have been better balanced with the residual sweetness priming with honey would have added. Did not take any gravity readings and the original recipe did not provide gravity or ABV information.
More Cat’s Meow
Hey, I just learned something! When I pulled out the printed copy of this recipe to check for ABV, I noticed that Cat’s Meow was edited by Karl Lutzen and Mark Stevens. The same Karl and Mark who were responsible for compiling the recipes found in Homebrew Favorites from which our last several recipes were taken. Orange Blossom Amber was credited to Dave Fortner. Thanks, guys!
Our next brew also comes from Cat’s Meow. It is credited to Gene Schultz and is stated to be a clone of Full Sail Ale from Full Sail Brewing in Hood River OR. A clone of which Full Sail Ale it is not too clear, but I would guess it to be the Full Sail Amber or Pale Ale.
Full Sail Ale
- 7 ½ lbs Cooper’s plain light LME
- ¾ lbs German crystal malt 5.5L
- 2 oz Nugget pellet hops (60 min)
- ½ oz Nugget pellet hops (15 min)
- 2 tsp gypsum
- 2 oz Dextrin Malt
- 1 ½ tsp Irish Moss (15 min)
- Wyeast 1098 British Ale Yeast
- Priming: ¾ cup corn sugar & ¼ cup DME
Of course, some of the ingredients are changed from the original due to availability and my own personal twist on things.
Steep only the milled crystal malt in ½ gallon water for 45 minutes at 160-165 F. Strain into kettle with 2 gallons cold water and sparge with ½ gallon hot water. Add LME and gypsum and milled Dextrin malt in a hop bag. Bring to boil adding hops and moss at indicated times.
Transfer to primary fermenter with cold water and pitch yeast when wort has cooled. The beer was ready to rack to a secondary after three days but I didn’t get to it until after six days. After seven days in secondary the beer had cleared very well and was ready to bottle.
Full Sail Ale proved to be very good with a beautiful amber color, very clear, nice head, and the flavor was wonderfully balanced between malt sweetness at the front and hop bitterness in the finish. I did not take any gravity readings. Per the original recipe OG was to be 1.045 and FG 1.020. This would give an ABV of about 3.3%
Back to Charlie’s Bible
We now return to our original source of inspiration, Charlie Papazian’s The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing, for our next brew. In flipping through the pages again after all this time, I realize there are still many great recipes in here that I have not yet tried. Although I have continually used it for reference, I have not brewed anything new from it in a long time. I am overdue!
This beer is a Belgian Wit or White and is a clone of the quintessential example of this style; Belgium’s Hoegaarden Grand Cru. Another popular example is Blue Moon brewed by Coors Brewing. Belgian Wit is cloudy like a weizen and uses a similar but different strain of yeast. Wit beers are traditionally flavored with coriander and either bitter or sweet orange peel and are served with a slice of orange. In a play on the original Hoegaarden name, Charlie calls this one: Who’s In the Garden Grand Cru.
Who’s In the Garden Grand Cru
- 5 lbs M&F light DME
- 2 3/4 lbs light clover honey
- 1 oz Hallertau Hersbruker whole cone hops (60 min)
- 1/2 oz Hallertau Hersbruker whole cone hops (15 min)
- 1/2 oz Hallertau Hersbruker whole cone hops (2 min)
- 1 1/2 oz fresh crushed coriander seed
- 1 oz ground dried orange peel
- Wyeast 3944 Belgian White
- Priming: ½ cup Orange Blossom Honey & ¼ cup DME
I used a little more hops and orange peel than Charlie specified. He did not specify whether he uses bitter or sweet orange peel and I did not record which I used. It was whatever the natural food store had at the time. He also did not specify what yeast to use but this was an obvious choice. My choice of using the Orange Blossom Honey for priming was just because I still had it left over from forgetting to prime the Amber with it.
Bring 2 gallons water to a boil and add DME and honey; return to boil. Add the hops at times indicated; also adding ½ the coriander at the second hop addition and the other ½ along with the orange peel at the final hop addition. Transfer wort to primary along with cold water and pitch yeast when cooled.
Fermentation activity in primary continued slowly for six days. Rack to secondary where activity actually increased and continued for 14 days at which time I racked to a tertiary fermenter to separate the beer from the thick layer of sediment or trub. After eight more days, the activity finally subsided to the point where it was ready to bottle.
Charlie had an interesting suggestion for bottling: place one whole coriander seed in each bottle. Briefly microwave the seeds to sanitize. Charlie states the OG should be 1.055 and the FG 1.004. This results in about 6.6% ABV.
Beer was very good with a subtle spiciness and no obvious orange flavor. Carbonation was good although a little low for the style and it was cloudy but less than expected. This makes for a great refreshing beer for a hot day but the ABV makes it definitely not a lawn-mower beer. Wait until after you finish the yard work!
Seems like a good time for a break. That makes 21. We still have 79 bottles of beer on the wall.
Next up: 2 Barleywines (1 intentional, 1 not) and a Lite Beer?
Keep on Brewin’
To be continued…
Karl F. Lutzen & Mark Stevens, Cat’s Meow