Recommendation: No late hop additions.
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The weissbier (hefeweizen) style is a light, refreshing wheat beer. This style is noted for banana and clove character that comes from special yeast strains for this style.
The standard wheat percentage is 50 to 70% malted wheat. Using 100% wheat malt is theoretically possible, but some barley base malt is a practical necessity to provide grain hulls for the lautering process. Other forms of wheat could be used, but these might require a more labor-intensive cereal mash procedure. This style does not require specialty malts. Continental pilsner malt would be the most authentic base malt choice. Extract brewers can enter 0% for the wheat malt value to calculate an entirely extract beer.
A basic mashing process, like a single-stage mash in the range of 150 to 154F (66 to 68C), will work well. The traditional mash for this style was a decoction mash. Some brewers use a step mash with a rest at 110F (43C) to promote ferulic acid, which eventually enhances clove flavors. Some recipes use a 90 minute or longer boil time to decrease DMS from the pilsner malt.
Weissbier is lightly hopped with traditional German hops, such as Hallertau. American hops bred from Hallertau, such as Mt. Hood, are also acceptable. Keep the hop bitterness low. Excessive bitterness conflicts with the yeast-driven flavors, yielding a flat, dull tasting beer. Late hop additions are also undesirable. Keep the focus on the yeast-driven flavors, not the hops.
An essential component is a traditional weissbier yeast for achieving the spicy, phenolic character. These yeast strains produce more clove and less banana character when fermented cool, near 60 to 64F (16 to 18C). One suggested rule is that the pitching temperature and fermentation temperature should add to 30C. An example would be pitching at 54F (12C) and fermenting at 64F (18C; Lodahl, 1996). On the other hand, a fermentation temperature in the high 60F range would result in more banana esters if this flavor is desired. The yeast pitching rate and open fermentation may also influence the flavors produced by the yeast.
A challenge for brewing this style is that wheat has no husk, which can make stuck sparges more likely. Solutions to this potential problem include the addition of rice hulls to the mash or lowering the percentage of wheat. Slower runoffs may also help. A second challenge is that the amount of clove and banana character can be excessive. These flavors should be distinct yet not overwhelming. Cooler fermentation temperatures should prevent this problem from happening.
Christensen, E. (2016, July-August). Three ways to wheat. Brew Your Own, 56 - 65.
Dornbusch, H. (2006, July-August). Weissbier. Brew Your Own, 34 - 39.
Lodahl, M. (1996, March-April). Weizen: An old style finds new life in modern craft breweries. Brewing Techniques, 44 - 49.
Zainasheff, J. (2011, January-February). German Hefeweizen: Wheat meets yeast. Brew Your Own, 19 - 22.
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