Schrödinger’s Weissbier Recipe

Brew a Weissbier complete with all the banana esters or clove phenols your palate desires for the perfect mid-summer beer.

| July 2019

 weissbier-ingredients
Getty Images/demarco-media

Targets

  • OG: 1.050
  • IBU: 12–15
  • SRM: 4.2
  • ABV: 5.0%

“The best songs will never gets sung/The best life never leaves your lungs.”

Wilco was right: Everything exists in a quantum state of perfection as long as it remains only pure potential. A glimmer in the eye. An unfermented maltose molecule. It’s only after we choose a fork in the road—an observable, fermentable one—that it collapses into A or B, this or that, banana or clove.

Traditional weissbier (aka hefeweizen) is a pale-ish, cloudy ale made from at least 50% malted wheat. The remainder of the grain is malted barley with most of that being pale, light Pils malt. Add some German hops, shoot for 5 percent ABV—pretty standard fare so far.



But it’s the yeast that truly makes a weissbier. I’m calling for the most widely used strain in its native Bavaria, available at your LHBS as Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan. Besides being uber-traditional, this weissbier is also an exploration of the mutability of beer yeast.

During fermentation, this strain produces the classic “clove” phenol (4-vinyl guaicol, or 4VG if you’re nasty) and “banana” ester (isoamyl acetate) requisite of true weissbier. The amount and proportion of each is a chance for you get all Dr. Moreau with your yeast, tweaking and dialing the sensory profile to your exacting specifications.

For a banana-forward weissbier—think Hacker-Pschorr Weisse—try a single-temp infusion mash, a low pitch rate, a warm fermentation temp (mid 70s°F), and if possible a fermenting vessel that’s wider than it is tall, for a shallow depth of liquid.

For a higher clove presence—like Schneider Weisse—we’ll do a multi-temp mash that includes a ferulic acid rest, to liberate some 4VG precursors from the wheat. We will want to increase the amount of yeast pitched (with a starter, natch), aim for a cooler fermentation temp (low to mid 60s°F) and ferment in a taller, narrower vessel.

If you want to walk a middle path and balance out the ester and phenol character, pitch a healthy amount of yeast and ferment in the mid to upper 60s°F. Ready?

Ingredients

  • 4.5 lbs. German wheat malt
  • 3.5 lbs. German Pils malt
  • 1 lb. German Munich malt
  • Rice or oat hulls (optional)     
  • 1 oz. German noble variety (Hallertau, Hersbrucker, Tettnanger, or Spalt)
  • Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Wheat

Key Points for Key Pints

Stuck mashes kill a party: Personally, I don’t experience problems with runoff or lautering with a 50% wheat grist, but a handful of rice or oat hulls in the mash is cheap insurance.

Multi-temp mashes are cool if you like 4VG: A ferulic acid rest at 111°F will enhance 4VG during fermentation—but the mash will still need to be brought up through protein and saccharification rests in this traditional regimen. Whether you use hot water infusions, direct heat, or decoctions to raise the mash temp, plan ahead!

Blowoff tubes are your friend: The Weihenstephan strain is a “top cropper.” It needs 33 percent headspace, and will happily erupt right out of a six-gallon primary.

Team Isoamyl Acetate Hammock

Prep

  • Don’t make a yeast starter prior to brew day—one of the few times I'll say that.
  • Heat strike water to about 165°F.

Mash & Sparge

  • Add all milled grains to strike water.
  • Mash rest: 151–153°F for 60–90 minutes. Collect and heat sparge water.
  • Mashout: Heat it to 170°F for 5 minutes.
  • Sparge and collect the wort in the boil kettle.

Boil (60 minutes.)

  • T-60: 1 oz. noble German hops
  • T-0: Cool it, transfer to a sanitized fermentor, aerate well, and pitch yeast.

Fermentation

  • Aim for around 72–74°F.

Team 4vg (You Nasty)

Prep

  • Make a yeast starter—overpitching suppresses isoamyl acetate, which allows the 4VG to stand out more.
  • Heat strike water to about. 121°F.

Mash & Sparge

  • Add all milled grains to strike water.
  • Mash rest: 111°F for 15 minutes. Collect and heat sparge water.
  • Raise temp to 130°F, rest 30 minutes.
  • Raise temp to 156°F, rest 15 minutes.
  • Mashout: heat it to 170°F for 5 minutes.
  • Sparge and collect the wort in the boil kettle.

Boil (60 minutes)

  • T-60: 1 oz. noble German hops
  • T-0: Cool it, transfer to a sanitized fermenter, aerate well, and pitch yeast.

Fermentation

  • Aim for around 64°F.

Beyond Fermentation (both schedules)

  • Primary fermentation should be complete within about 7–10 days, after which the beer can go straight into the bottle or keg. Weissbier is a beer of the moment—drink it as fresh as possible, as soon as it’s carbonated.

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More from Mashmaker


Excerpt from Mashmaker, by Michael Dawson, published by Gray Duck Media. Copyright © 2017 by Gray Duck Media. All rights reserved.

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About Mashmaker:In this first-ever book from longtime homebrewer Michael Dawson, readers get the chance to brew through 64 of his favorite all-grain homebrew recipes. With a mixture of humor and expertise, Dawson, a 20-year beer industry veteran, takes a deep dive into grain selection, hopping techniques, and yeast handling, all to give readers critical insight into the steps that make up a successful beer. The book is slightly more advanced than Homebrewing 101—it’s for homebrewers that know the basics of the craft, and want to take their recipe development and brewing practices to the next level.






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