Monday, 16 July 2012

Brew Day: Widbier

I had promised to brew a beer for the Melbourne Brewers annual dinner, however, due to not completing the brewery build and some problems with yeast starters, I was unable to brew the beer I wanted in time for it to be ready for the dinner.  In the "Brewing With Wheat" Book (Stan Hieronymus) it's suggested that Widmer Brothers can turn around their hefeweizen from grain-to-glass in 8 days if required, and since I had a yeast-starter ready, I thought it would be a good thing to try.

Despite the name, Widmer Hefeweizen is an American Wheat beer, some would say the original American Wheat.  While it's brewed with an 'American Wheat' yeast (now available as Wy1010, WLP320) the yeast is actually a German Alt yeast from Zum Uerige, so I figured that an American Ale yeast would be an adequate substitute.

The book listed the malt and hops as: "Wheat, Pale", "Willamette, Cascade" while the Widmer website suggests (and has for many years according to various home brew forums): "Pale, Munich, Wheat, Caramel 40L" and "Alchemy, Willamette, Cascade" so obviously the book or the website is incorrect.  I presumed that various home brewers trying to emulate the beer and the brewery website was correct, and adapted the following recipe.

Estimated OG: 1.047 SG
Estimated Color: 5.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 32.2 IBU

Pale Malt, Traditional Ale (Joe White) 52.3 %
Wheat Malt, Pale (Best Malz) 38.6 %
Munich I (Weyermann) 6.8 %
Crystal (Joe White) 2.3 %

Magnum (11) (60 min) 16.6 IBU
Columbus (HG 12) (60 min) 10.2 IBU
Cascade (11) (15 min) (0.68g/L) 3.0 IBU
Cascade (09) (5 min) (0.68g/L) 2.4 IBU
Cascade (HG 12) (0 min, hop-back) (0.68g/L)

Whirlfloc (Boil 15.0) (0.045g/L)
Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 min) (0.045g/L)
Lactic Acid (Mash 60.0 min) (0.094ml/L)
Calcium Chloride (Mash 60.0 min) (0.18g/L)
Calcium Sulfate (Mash 60.0 min) (0.27g/L)
Lactic Acid (Sparge) (0.0125 ml/L)

Mash In (3.4L/kg) 49.0 C 5 min
Maltase Rest 64.0 C 60 min
Dextrinization Rest 73.0 C 15 min
Mash Out 78.0 C 10 min

Wyeast Greenbelt (Starter) (9.09billion cells/L)

Ferment @ 20 C.
Apparently, the Widmer Brothers copped a decent amount of flack when they first introduced this beer, either from beer-enthusiasts who insisted that without the yeast-driven flavours and aromas that it was not a Hefeweizen and from others who dislike those flavours and would not try the beer.  I could imagine the same thing happening if I called it a Hefeweizen, hence the witty (pun intended) wheat related Widbier name for this beer.

Even with a high proportion of wheat, the mill and cordless drill:
... had no problem ...
... achieving what appears to be a good crush:

300g of Rice Hulls were added to help filter the mash (and because I have several kg that I've not needed to use before):

At mash-in the wort looked very cloudy and milky:
... but after being recirculated for 75mins:
... it was surprisingly clear:

With a minor plumbing change, the wort is drained (fly-sparge) into the kettle while the HLT drains (at an equal rate) into the mash:

A fairly decent hop bill, especially for a wheat beer:

And a nice golden-colour boiling away in the kettle:

Hopefully I've found a way to use the wheat-malt I have here, since I'm not really fond of German style Hefeweizens, if anything I'll add more hops next time and make it more like Mad Brewers Hoppy Hefe, which I quite enjoyed over the summer.

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