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Hefeweizen Brew

August 25, 2011

As a follow-up to my Strong Scotch Ale from last weekend, I’m gonna brew a Hefe next to build up my stock.  I figure it’s another good candidate for the keezer’s temp control when there’s not a keg in there, so I might as well take advantage.  Also, my brother-in-law is in town for a few days and he prefers wheat beers.  We’ll have to work out the logistics of getting him some bottles of the finished product, but I think he’ll like to be involved in brewing (if not, I’ll still enjoy it).

For the recipe, I’ll be using Gordon Strong’s El Hefe from Brewing Better Beer.  It’s a simple recipe that incorporates a restrained decoction, so I feel like I might be able to pull it off.  He seems to be specifying step mashes (i.e. heating the mash tun to reach different rests), but I’m going to use infusions since I have an Igloo cooler mash tun.  I manipulated the infusions to get to 2 qt/lb just prior to the decoction (a ratio he claims as typical for decoctions).

With my crappy, inconsistent efficiencies, I should probably pick up some wheat malt extract also…

Recipe

BeerSmith Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (9/5/11)

Nice, cool day (high of ~62 while I was brewing) that went pretty smoothly.

  • Despite taking greater care this time, the MLT manifold came apart again.  Once again, I had to transfer most of the mash to my 5-gallon cooler, rinse out the pieces of the manifold, and put it back together.  I don’t think I want to fuse everything together, but I might need to do something (bend the pipe that goes from the center to the bulkhead so it fits flush instead of angled, fuse all but a couple joints – particularly the bulkhead attachment, cut proper length tubing to connect the outside to the center, etc.)
  • Had a lot of break in the kettle and pretty clear wort out at the end
  • Hit gravities almost right on (by Refractometer reading anyway – hydrometer OOC) – didn’t need to use Pilsner DME that I picked up just in case (I needed more starter DME anyway)
  • Starter showing a lot of life during the brew day
  • Put carboy in 45 F keezer to cool until 58 F

Fermentation

Left the carboy in the keezer until ~midnight (4 – 5 hours) at which time, the thermometer on the side read mid-58.  Not wanting to wait and deal with it in the morning, I figured I was good enough and pitched.  Despite the cooler temperatures, I still set up the blow-off tube, knowing this yeast can be very active (not to mention the apparently good health of the starter).  This turned out to be a good thing, as it was fermenting slowly, but steadily by morning and blowing off by early afternoon.  As of writing, it’s been fermenting vigorously for ~2 1/2 days now.

After 2 days, I noted the thermometer read 66 F, so I dropped the keezer temp down another degree (to 61).  The blow off had a pleasant, faint banana aroma.

Sample at 5 days (when major activity had stopped)

1.013 (by refractometer & based on OG):  really light colored and cloudy.  Still looks, smells, and tastes “green,” but the banana aroma is certainly present and possibly a little clove.  I’ll have to train my palate on that one though, I’m not too sure what to expect for clove.  I just know that there’s something that seems spicy to it.  It’s definitely not the bubble gum bomb that the Dunkelweizen was at its first sample.

Soon after this sample, I moved the fermentor out of the keezer into ~10 gallons of water at ~67 F.  I wanted the keezer to get cold again for drinking beer and figured I’d let the Hefe slowly rise now that primary fermentation is essentially over (probably).

Sample at 8 days

1.008 (refractometer between 6 and line for 6.25):  The bubbles at the top of the fermentor have mostly gone away.  Obviously the gravity has dropped, so it was still fermenting.  As recently as about 2 days ago, I could see the airlock bubbling (~once every 30 seconds or so).  It still seems a tad sweet, but that’s likely the melanoidin from decoction.

Changes for next time

This was a pretty decent beer (though I’m not much of a Hefe fan).  I think the banana character was a tad too strong though, so I think I want to drop the fermentation temp for next time.  The 58 F pitch/65 F ferment violates the “30 degree rule,” (comes out to 32.78) so I think I can either bring that closer in line by just adjusting to a 62 F ferment (putting me at 31.1) or maybe also pitch at 56 F to be right at the rule.  Of course I could just mess with the pitch temp and bring it down to 53 – 54 F, but that seems awfully low.  And then again (to ramble some more) I could adjust them both (a little lower on the pitch, little lower on the ferment), but we’ll see how I feel when the time comes.

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