First Try at a Hefeweizen

This is an account of a batch of homebrew I made back in early September. I’m very much behind on keeping up with these posts so I’m trying to do right by my intention on keeping up with these little endeavors. This particular brew day is not fresh in my mind, but I’ll do my best to remember the basics. Here goes.

I’m not a huge fan of wheat beers but I don’t mind an occasional hefeweizen. It’s not my go to for sure, but being that I’m trying to expand my horizons and thus my comfort zone, I thought I’d take a shot at this traditional style. I’ll come clean right off and say I screwed something up. It didn’t come out awful or anything. It was just…not right. I’ll be honest and say that I may have failed at making the hefeweizen that i set out to make, but I succeeded in making what tastes like what I might imagine a light hefeweizen might taste like. The familiar tastes of banana and clove were there but it seems very faint…watered down and the readings I took confirmed a very low ABV. I’m pretty sure I know where I went wrong, but I suppose for the sake of the post here, I’ll walk through the process.

First, things first.

Recipe:

  • 8 lb. Weyerman Pale Wheat
  • 4 lb. German Pilsner Malt
  • 1 lb. rice hulls (to help keep the stickiness of the wheat from gumming up the works)
  • 1 oz. German Hallertau hops (keeping it traditional)
  • 1 pouch Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Wheat yeast

I mashed at 152° for an hour and mashed out around 168° for ten minutes, or at least that was what I was shooting for. I think my mash out temperature was a little lower. Still, I don’t think that’s where I went wrong. I recirculated the wort until it was a nice clean color with very little debris and then I started in on the sparge. I think that’s where I messed up. I’m usually quite careful with making sure I don’t let the sparge water tunnel through the grain, but I think that’s what happened here. I might have been a little over-zealous and was rushing the sparge. I got distracted for a moment and walked away, taking notes as I could and getting wrapped up in other tasks. I came back to check on the progress when I noticed that the little plastic plate that I use to float at the top of the grain bed had shifted to one side. Without that there to redistribute the stream of sparge water, I suspect the water bore a hole right through the bed, which in turn probably caused a siphoning of the water from the top rather than allowing it to evenly rinse the grain bed throughout the mash tun.

That was the theory anyway. The early refractometer readings seemed promising but by the time i got this far, they were very low and I still needed to collect more wort. When I had collected enough, I shut down the sparge, mixed the wort up good and took another reading. It didn’t look good. I don’t remember the numbers offhand. I was frustrated enough to not bother taking accurate notes. I could have probably boiled down for an extra hour or so to concentrate the remaining sugars but I didn’t. I just went with the flow, hoping it wouldn’t be a total loss and chalking it all up to a learning experience.

The hop additions for the boil were easy enough.

Boil Schedule:

  • 60 minutes: 0.75 oz. Hallertau
  • 15 minutes: 0.25 oz. Hallertau

I chilled the wort, pitched the yeast and cleaned up my mess, knowing quite well that it wasn’t going to turn out as expected. Primary was a week. Secondary was supposed to be a week but I let that go two full weeks giving every possible chance I could the yeast to do any conversion it could. The readings I took during this period confirmed that what I had was a very weak hefeweizen. I don’t think it even reached the 3% ABV mark. that being said, it didn’t taste awful. It was actually somewhat refreshing. I decided to not let it go to waste and it’s what’s pouring on tap right now. I’m anxious to take another stab at the exact same recipe but it might be a while. A guy like me who prefers an IPA over anything else can only take so much wheat beer before he’s got to switch it up.

 

Comments are closed.