“Make Your Best” High­lights

Go­ing be­yond the sim­ple ques­tion of “what” and in­stead ex­plor­ing the “why” will help you un­der­stand how to de­sign and brew bet­ter beers.

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents - By Josh Weik­ert


This is a once-a-year beer for me, and it’s a sur­pris­ingly ap­proach­able beer even for non-beer geeks. Just be care­ful: at a well-hid­den 10.5% ABV, it can catch you by sur­prise when you stand up.

Style: Wheatwine is a higher-al­co­hol beer with a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion of fla­vor and tex­ture from malted wheat. It also al­lows for “mild” hops char­ac­ter, and we’ll pair some clas­sic Amer­i­can cit­rus and Con­ti­nen­tal flo­ral notes. It’s also a smooth pale beer with no­tice­able al­co­hol and good grain and fruit notes. What it is not is a kind of im­pe­rial weiss­bier. Yes, you can brew those, but not this time. Ba­nana and clove should not be present, es­pe­cially if you’re go­ing to en­ter it in com­pe­ti­tion! The guide­lines also in­di­cate a sub­tle pref­er­ence for a light oak char­ac­ter, but it’s easy to overdo, and we can add some of those richer fla­vors in other ways with­out risk­ing big tan­nin ex­pres­sion. Recipe: Start with enough malted wheat to con­sti­tute 60 per­cent of the grist. Blend in suf­fi­cient rice hulls to avoid a stuck sparge. To that, add Vi­enna malt; the BJCP Style Guide sug­gests 2-row malt but also in­di­cates that the beer should be “richly tex­tured” with “in­ter­est­ing [malt] com­plex­ity.” I find that Amer­i­can 2-row is un­likely to add much tex­ture or fla­vor. Hence the Vi­enna to add some light grainy spice, nicely com­ple­ment­ing the wheat (and any al­co­hols that come through in the fla­vor). Round­ing out the malt are equal amounts of Cara­mu­nich and Maris Ot­ter, plus some Me­lanoidin malt. All of these should pro­vide a bit more bready, bis­cu­ity com­plex­ity, and the Cara­mu­nich will give a touch of crys­tal sweet­ness with­out dark­en­ing the beer too much. A fair amount of bit­ter­ing is needed for bal­ance, so I add 65 IBUS of any high-al­pha Amer­i­can bit­ter­ing hop, then tack on 4–5 IBUS with an ad­di­tion of Haller­tau at 10 min­utes. Fi­nally, at flame-out I add some Cas­cade. That might sound like a bit too much, but this beer will age into it­self, and it helps pre­serve a light orange-and-flow­ers nose that won’t com­pletely fade in a few months’ time. Fi­nally, I like Lon­don Ale III yeast be­cause it gives a rounded ex­pres­sion to the malts but also adds some nice fruit aro­mat­ics. It’s not the best at­ten­u­a­tor, but that’s some­thing we can man­age, and I’d rather have the right malt-es­ter pro­file and a few points of left­over grav­ity than a bonedry beer that lacks char­ac­ter! Process: Mash at a steady 152°F (67°C); some might rec­om­mend lower to in­crease fer­mentabil­ity, but the style can tol­er­ate some left­over body, so you don’t want to try too hard. Boil and chill as usual, then pitch the yeast and start at 60°F (16°C). That might seem too low, but you need to guard against the al­co­hol be­ing too hot or too strong in fla­vor, and a cool fer­men­ta­tion will help on both counts. Hold there for a week or so, then raise to 68°F (20°C) for an­other week, end­ing with a free-rise to wher­ever it wants to go. When you’ve had no air­lock ac­tiv­ity for a week or so, cold-crash and pack­age, shoot­ing

for a very mod­est 1.75–2 vol­umes of CO2.

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