Brewday 5: Hefeweizen

Brew day 5:  24/03/2013

The first of my ‘request beers’ was a Hefeweizen. No, it’s not an foreign word you’d say after a sneeze, it’s a German white beer. Similar in style to Hoegarden or Erdinger Weiss, this beer is unfiltered, cloudy with yeast and Wheat protein, and full of flavour creating esters which can give tastes of Bananas or even Cloves. A great idea for a hot sunny BBQ party!

The ingredients for my Hefeweizen are:

  • 2.5kg Pilsner Malt
  • 3kg Wheat Malt
  • 25g Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hops @ 90 minutes
  • 1 Wyeast Labs 3068 Weizen yeast

It is a very simple ingredient list this one as a lot of the flavour comes as a result of the temperature of the beer during fermentation. A higher temperature encourages more Banana flavours, a lower temperature brings on more of the Cloves. I decided with this batch to start high at 20C and after 7 days lower this slightly to 16C. Hopefully this would produce a balanced combination of both? The 25g of hops means that the Hefeweizen keeps a low bitterness to allow these esters to come through even more.

IMG_0419 Grains added and mash underway

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0420Smelling good! Lots of space in the mash tun this time too…

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0423Draining in progress.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0427A good vigorous boil here, even with the cold weather outside. (Yes, that is snow on the drive on 27th March!) Unfortunately the boil was so vigorous the boiler actually overheated and cut out right on the 90 minutes mark due to a build up of caramelised wort on the base plate above the element. Nothing a good clean won’t fix though!

 

There is no Irish Moss in this recipe, and all the practices that I have previously employed to get a clear beer are all unnecessary this time around. This really was a simple batch to make! So much so I even found time to make a couple of loaves of Hefeweizen Bread with some of the spent grains!

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Bottling:

Both the OG and FG were pretty much on target with this batch coming out at 5.2% ABV. When it came to bottling time, I had a slight change of plan… 22 bottles of ‘normal’ Hefeweizen were filled from the FV as you would expect. The remaining 8.5 litres was drawn off into a sterilised bottling bucket and mixed with 4 teaspoons of concentrated Strawberry Extract. These 17 bottles of ‘Strawberry’ Hefeweizen won’t take on any red colouring as the extract was clear and colourless, however should have a definite extra fruity taste about them! Once primed, sealed and clearly marked, they were all moved indoors to condition. The Hefeweizen is a quick conditioning beer too which means we only have 4 days to go until tasting can commence. Cheers!

Growing Hops

Two things I have learnt about writing a blog since I created it; It’s much harder to write properly than you’d imagine, and it takes up much more time than you expect it to! At the moment I’ve maybe five or six topics I want to post about, and as the time needed to complete a brew day write up is proving elusive I am going to fill the gap with a run of shorter posts, the first of which will be about my experiment growing my own hops.

Hop plants (Humulus lupulus for all you Latin speakers!) are a rough twining vine that can grow up to 25ft tall. The Female plant is the one that produces flowers in the form of cones and these are the parts of the plant that are used in brewing. The Hops themselves are generally between 2 cm and 6 cm long, a light yellow/green and papery in feel. Harvest time is September and each fully matured plant will produce up to 2kg of dried flowers.

I decided to grow three different hops; Target (Bittering), East Kent Golding (Aroma) and Bramling Cross (Aroma), if the growing season was successful I would hopefully then have enough hops to make (at least) one complete batch of beer! The common limitation with growing Hops at home is space, and as I don’t have the room for three 16 foot tall vines in my back garden I opted to plant my Hops in pots. This should limit their maximum size as they won’t be able to fully establish the root system, and will also allow them to be moved about the garden for the optimal sun-hours! Ultimately I decided that if I could get 500g of Hops from each vine once established then it would be deemed a success! The Hops were ordered from Willingham Nurseries (see my useful links tab) in October 2012 and planted immediately in large (50cm+) pots in the garden. The Hops ideally needed to experience winter in order to prompt them for new growth in the new year.

A fairly starhizome-photondard looking Hop Rhizome. You can just about see the new shoots which will form the vines.

IMG_0363Planting complete. Yes, for some reason that made sense at the time I planted these in the dark!

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Here we have the Bramling Cross (left), East Kent Goldings (centre) and Target (right) as they were on April 15th. All three going nicely, looking forward to summer!

I’ll continue to update this post through the season with pictures of their progress!

The Great Priming Sugar Experiment: The Results!

Just over two months ago on AG Brewday 3 I brewed an experimental batch of beer for the purpose of trying different priming sugars. A ‘standard’ light golden ale was brewed to provide a constant base but instead of using the same old white granulated sugar when it came to priming the bottles, I substituted in Muscavado, Golden Syrup, Maple Syrup, Treacle and Honey. Now four weeks have passed the beer is pretty much fully conditioned, and following a night with the ‘Tasting Crew’, I can now share the results!

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Bottling Day!

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from left to right: White Sugar, Muscavado, Golden Syrup, Honey, Maple Syrup, Treacle

White/Granulated Sugar

This was the control batch. Only here to give us an idea on what the base beer would have looked and tasted like so we could compare the others. As you can see from the image above this was the most carbonated of the six.

Muscavado Sugar

This darker sugar had quite an impact on the beers colour, and produced a ‘burnt caramel’ aftertaste to the ale. Whilst I rated this as one of my favorite choices it was not a unanimous decision!

Golden Syrup

There was no real alteration to the look of the ale, and the taste of the Golden Syrup was also mostly lost. This sugar pretty much only imparted a sweetening effect to the beer.

Honey

The Honey beer, was by far the clearest of the six after four weeks. A small change in colour from the original, and just a subtle hint of honey in both the smell and the taste. This was only a cheap Honey, so I would imagine a more expensive, purer Honey will give a more noticeable change.

Maple Syrup

I had high hopes for this choice pre-testing, however the Maple Syrup only really sweetened the beer, and almost overly sweetened it too! Maybe there was the slightest hint of maple that could be tasted however there was no detectable aroma change. Overall this was the favorite beer, so we have discovered that my base beer must have been good, and the ‘Tasting Crew’ has a sweet tooth!

Treacle

As you can see the Treacle had a dramatic effect on the colour of the beer. The Treacle also is the least ‘soluble’ of the sugars so this also was the cloudiest of the six. There was a slight aroma change, and a noticeable aftertaste of Treacle, however this is definitely not suited to a Golden Ale, or anything where clarity is the desired effect! A good choice in a darker beer like a Porter or Stout though. I will be using this later in the year!

Overall Conclusions

Other than the White Sugar all of the experimental beers were unfortunately slightly under-carbonated which I believe will have had an effect on how much of their flavour was passed on to the beer. That said, there still was a definite change imparted from each individual sugar. If I choose to use any of these alternatives in the future then I will be upping the quantities slightly. The table below shows the quantity used for this experiment.

Sugar

The experiment was definitely worth trying, and has given me some ideas which you will see in future brews! I’ll also be re-testing the beer in one months (8 weeks total conditioning) time, and probably every month afterwards until it runs out, and will see how/if the flavours develop further.