Thursday, March 14, 2013

American Weissbier Brewday

My inspiration for this beer was a post by Jeff Alworth on Beervana discussing the ingredients in American Weissbiers in Wahl and Henius’s American Handy-Book of American Brewing, Malting, and Auxiliary Trades (1902).
From here.

Alworth closed by asking “Who out there is willing to reclaim this important part of American brewing history?” While I am guessing that his challenge is directed more at professional brewers, I am always ready to run aimlessly into the breach of brewing futility. Or, in other words, sign my ass up. As well, if you are really interested in reading more, there is a downloadable version of Wahl and Henius available via Google books. Super-awesome! I also tried something new with this batch: I mashed on Wednesday night, and then boiled the collected wort on Thursday morning. Post-mash, I brought the wort to a boil, and then shut it off and went to bed.

140. American Weissbier
5 lbs. Breiss 6-row
3 lbs. Breiss Flaked Maize
2 lbs. Breiss White Wheat

Mash @ 152° F for 60 minutes w/ 3 gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 1 ¾ gallons @ 1.080
Batch sparge @ 166° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 gallons @ 1.026

Collected 5 ¾ gallons; topped off with 1 gallon RO water, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 oz. Cluster leaf 7.6% AA

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched mason jar of White Labs 570 Belgian Golden from 139. Rock-it Cup Belgian Pale Ale

Brewed: 3/14/2013 @ 75° F; fell to 68° F in first 24 hours
Secondary: 4/6/2013 @ 1.008
Bottled: 4/27/2013 w/ 3/5 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.048
FG: 1.006

Tasting Notes (5/30/2013): After shipping a couple of bottles of this off to Jeff Alworth, my inspiration for this beer, I realized that I had not, in fact, typed up any notes. Nothing says keeping it classy like a lack of your own follow through. Solid. Any who, Alworth’s comments are here, while mine follow. American Weissbier pours a hazy gold with a white, lacy head—the wheat is really doing its job. The nose is a big punch of fruit esters with a touch of phenolic tang in the back, although the silky creaminess I associate with White Labs 570 is also present. The beer is soft and sweet in the front, with the corn and wheat balancing each other nicely, giving way to estery yeast fruitiness in the middle—when first bottled, it came across as more banana, but that has shifted in the last couple of weeks to bright pear and apple. These flavors linger into the finish, along with a bright bite from the carbonation that is clean and yeasty—Alworth describes the beer as having a “yeasty turbidity,” which fits the flavor and mouthfeel perceptions I get in the finish in a more precise manner than I could have probably enunciated. There is a touch of harshness in the finish, but none of the normative descriptors that I’ve read as related to 6-row—combined with the corn and wheat, there is a rounded, balanced body that works wonderfully in this beer in conjunction with the carbonation and flavors. This beer works on many, many levels—it is crisp, clean, and easy drinking. I’m a convert—I’ll shortly be trying a couple more versions of this to see how different yeasts contribute to the final product. My favorite comment regarding the idea behind this beer comes from my correspondence with Alworth when I was getting ready to mail it to him; as he points out: “Corn is so hated now we forget that it’s our claim to indigenous fame. We call it ‘cheap’ but if the Belgians had had corn, we’d call it ‘rustic.’ Time to reclaim it from the beer geek trashbin.” In today’s climate, the Belgian part of this quote couldn’t ring more true.

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