January 27, 2012

Hefeweizen Fail

Some of my favorite beer styles continue to elude my homebrewing and hefeweizen is definitely one of those. I feel like I have a good grasp on dunkelweizen but a hefeweizen is such a basic recipe that any flaw in recipe or process is really apparent. I should probably try brewing other people's recipes to see what I am doing wrong but I'm positive I have figured out my problem, at least with the hefeweizen (I am still struggling with my dubbel recipe).

My first attempt at a hefeweizen was a clone kit from AHS for Live Oak's hefeweizen, which I regard as easily the best domestic hefeweizen and better than many German renditions I have tried. It is banana-y with a solid clove element and a fresh wheat flavor. It also has great body. I was surprised to learn they do not decoction mash the hefeweizen. Any way, the kit was a disaster. The grains were obviously put together wrong (their fault) and I fermented way too warm (my fault) so I ended up with a thin, watery, not very wheaty, bubble gum-flavored beer. I dumped most of the batch. Lesson learned: fermenting in the 70s will get bubble gum, not banana.

This second attempt was a recipe I put together that was supposed to be a watermelon wheat last summer but I didn't get around to brewing it because we were sitting on like 24 gallons of beer and the summer was so warm I didn't think I could keep the batch cool enough to get banana and clove instead of bubble gum. So I made the batch this December with half bottled straight and half on apricots, which were very hard to find in winter. Definitely nailed the fermentation temperatures. Mid-upper 60s produced a great banana nose with a good mix of banana and clove flavors. The problem is it doesn't have good body or flavor. It is sort of bland in that American "hefeweizen" way. It's not terrible but it's not great. I realized when I put the recipe together I meant to do a 60/40 mix of wheat malt/barley malt but I did it the other way around so there wasn't as much wheat as there should have been. Hence the lack of wheat flavor and body. It's too bad because it would have been a great beer. Lesson learned: more wheat malt.

Hopefully the apricot portion will be more of a success. I haven't bottled it yet; it's been on the apricots for about three weeks. I intend on bottling it this weekend or early next week and I'll give it a couple weeks to carbonate before tasting. I need to bottle it up so I can free a gallon fermenter to make a black ale I've been promising my wife for about half a year. I wanted to ferment it in the winter with kolsch yeast so it could ferment really cool but for the past month or so we've been in the 60s and 70s (even reaching 80). It's nice spring weather but I want a few good weeks of cold to forget about the scorching, endless summer of 2011.

1 comment:

  1. I had good luck with a 50/50 wheat/barley mix and fermenting at 64-66. The body was a bit thin but that may have been due to the single infusion at 150... adding a rest, decoction, or even raising the mash temp a bit may help.