Recommendation: No late hop additions.
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Burnsed (2011) states that the standard grain bill is 45% raw wheat, 50% Belgian or German pilsner, and 5% raw oats. Multiple sources prefer raw or flaked wheat, but malted wheat can be an acceptable substitute. An easier approach would be to use both flaked wheat and flaked oats. Raw oats may need to be cereal mashed by boiling before the mash. Zainasheff (2007) likes a small amount of Munich malt. Extract brewers can enter 0% for the wheat and oats values to calculate an entirely extract beer.
There are a number of mash possibilities. A single stage mash at saccharification temperatures will work, especially if flaked grains are used. A step mash with a protein rest at 122F (50C) for 30 minutes followed by a 60 minute rest at 150F (66C) might be beneficial if raw wheat and raw oats are used to make these less gummy. A third possibility is a cereal mash, which is holding raw grains with a small amount of malted barley briefly steps of 122F (50C) and 150F (66C), followed by 10 to 15 minutes of boiling. These boiled grains are then added to the mash so that the entire mash is at saccharification temperatures (Klemp, 2012).
Witbier is lightly hopped with noble continental hops, such as Hallertau, Saaz, or Goldings. American hops bred from Hallertau, such as Mt. Hood, are also acceptable. Zainasheff (2007) recommends avoiding citrusy American hop varieties. Keep the hop bitterness low and avoid late hop additions.
The yeast choice should be a Belgian strain that produces a phenolic character. There are several specific witbier strains from Wyeast and White Labs. A somewhat warm fermentation of temperature of 70 to 72 F (21 to 22C) is preferred by these Belgian yeasts.
Witbiers are often spiced with bitter orange peel and/or crushed coriander seeds at a rate of 0.25 to 1.0 oz per 5 gallons (Burnsed, 2011). Coriander is particularly popular. The zest of a sweet orange can also be a citrus source. Other possible spices include grains of paradise, cardamom, and chamomile. Keep the spice levels restrained.
The above recommendations are fairly conventional. More adventurous wit possibilities include the use of rye, rice, millet, or buckwheat (Klemp, 2012). Carmelized sugars, higher gravities, dark malts, and other spices can also be tried.
Like other wheat beer styles, the addition of rice hulls to the mash or a slower runoff may be needed to prevent a stuck sparge. Another potential problem point is excessive spices.
Burnsed, J. (2011, July-August). Witbier: The style that got a second chance. Brew Your Own, 37 - 43
Klemp, K.F. (2012). Belgian witbier. All About Beer, 33, 80 - 81.
Zainasheff, J. (2007, July-August). Witbier: The cloudy beer with a silver lining. Brew Your Own, 19 - 22.
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