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Bavarian Hefeweizen

June 1, 2012

I like hefeweizen just fine, but its not my absolute favorite.  They’re great on a hot day, but most commercial examples are far too banana-forward for my taste.  That said, my better half loves the style and can often be found enjoying a Franziskaner or Paulaner.  

She’s been great lately about indulging my hobby (obsession), so I figured it was due time I brewed something that was really for her.

I wanted “my” hefeweizen to be very true to style, following the Reinheitsgebot, but I also wanted to minimize that banana flavor, which I find off-putting.

According to the Reinheitsgebot, hefeweizen can only contain: malted barley, wheat, hops, yeast and water.  Typically the barley is a german pilsen malt and in either a 50/50 or 40/60 ratio to the wheat.  If you’ve ever had a true hefeweizen, you know it is defined by a distinctive banana and clove flavor.  I knew these flavors were created by the yeast but I wanted to learn more about how to control them.  After doing some research, I determined that there are two factors at play: yeast selection and fermentation temperature.

The banana essence is technically a phenol, which nine times out of ten is considered a brewing defect (this is one of the 10%).  The clove essence is an ester – sometimes considered a defect, but really only when occurring in excess.  With a hefeweizen yeast strain, the banana phenol is more prevalent when fermented at a higher temp.  Conversely, the clove ester becomes more pronounced when fermented at lower temperatures.

The yeast selection is also key, as some are naturally phenolic, some are esteric and some are more balanced.  I chose WYeast 3068 – Weihenstephan, which is more on the esteric side.  That, coupled with a controlled, relatively low fermentation temperature should give me the pleasant, clovey, not-so-banana-y hefeweizen I’m seeking.

The last thing I chose to do (or not to do, rather) was to forego a yeast starter.  This stresses the yeast a little bit and further influences the production of esters.

Here’s how the recipe panned out:

Bavarian Hefeweizen
Brewed: 5/11/12

Size: 5.28 gal
Efficiency: 79.0%
Attenuation: 77.0%
Original Gravity: 1.048 (measured)
Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (measured)

Color: 4.27 (2.0 – 8.0)
Alcohol: 4.81% (4.3% – 5.6%)
IBU: 12.0 (theoretical)

Ingredients:

  • 4.25 lb German Pilsen Malt
  • 4.25 lb German Wheat Malt
  • 0.33 lb American Caramel 20°L
  • 0.75 oz Hallertauer Hersbrucker (4.5%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
  • 1.0 ea WYeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen™

Schedule:

  • Mash-in – Liquor: 3.0 gal; Strike: 165.54 °F; Target: 153.0 °F
  • Batch Sparge – Untitled Sparge: 4.25 gal sparge @ 170 °F, 0.0 m; Total Wort Collected: 6.36 gal

Listening:

  • Father John Misty – Fear Fun
  • Moondoggies – Tidelands

Notes:

  • Brewed on a Friday evening by myself.  Started heating mash strike water earlier in the afternoon, which had me cleaned up and finished by 8 pm.  Kind of nice.  Wort chilled to 65F and placed in my basement with an ambient of 61F.  The ambient of the rest of my apartment is 70-72 degrees.
  • 5/13 – came home to a fermenter ready to blow.  Got a blowoff tube in quickly.  Fermentation clearly off and running, pretty stinky – typical for a Hefeweizen yeast.
  • 5/24 – Kegged with priming sugar.
  • 5/31 – placed Keg into fridge at 42F.  Will allow it to chill and settle for a few weeks before digging in.
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