American Wheat Beer (1D) BeerSmith Recipe File
This particular ale is named after Rutgers’ namesake, Colonel Henry Rutgers, a Revolutionary War hero and donor to the University. This is version 2.0 of a recipe I brewed for a Rutgers Student Veterans Services BBQ a few months ago. Being a student veteran myself, I’ve seen how much care these guys & gals give to veterans attending Rutgers. So, I was honored when they made me the unofficial brewer of the Vet House on the New Brunswick campus. I’ve brewed several different recipes for Vet House get-togethers, and they’re always much appreciated. This time, the beer will be served at the fall semester welcome back BBQ for new and returning veteran students and their families, and Rutgers faculty.
The earlier version featured German Hefe yeast, but I’ve decided that on principle alone, the yeast should be American (Also, if you’ve never used WLP300, it takes forever, even with an appropriate starter so I’m hoping the American yeast will make a faster effort). The grain bill is pretty simple. I really like rye malt in a wheat beer, I think it adds some spiciness that is pleasing in warm weather, and I personally enjoy wheat and rye beer more than simple American wheat beer. Serving it at a BBQ with lots of different pallets will work well for this recipe, as it is another crowd pleaser and it won’t overwhelm any food.
A tiny caution: when using rye malt, the mash can get a little sticky (as rye malt does not have a husk). Some recommend rice hulls when the rye contribution reaches 30% of the total grain bill, and here it is close at 27.3%. Last time I brewed this recipe, I didn’t use them, but the percentage of rye malt was a bit less, so this time I’ve included them just as an insurance policy. They’re very cheap, so it doesn’t make much sense to risk it.
5 lb. Pale 2 Row (US)
3 lb. White Wheat Malt (US)
3 lb. Rye Malt (US)
0.5 lb. Rice Hulls
Mash @ 152º for 60 minutes (single infusion @ 1.4 qt/lb) sparge with 4 gal @ 168º
Boil for 60 minutes
1.5 oz US Hallertauer (4.7%) boil for 60 minutes
0.5 oz US Hallertauer boil for 10 minutes
WLP320 American Hefeweisen, 1200mL starter
Color: 4.1 SRM
Fermentation Temp: 65-68º
Fairly straight forward brew day. Mash temp and pH were nominal, the lauter/sparge went off without a hitch, and the 60 minute boil was uneventful.
I cooled the wort to 65º, transfered to the fermenter, pitched the yeast starter, aerated and put it in the fermentation fridge with the controller set to 65º.
Aften only 10 hours, I noted 4-5 bubbles/sec of activity in the airlock. After 4 days, I raised the temperature to 68º. After 10 days, I took a gravity reading (1.010), transferred the beer to the keg and put it in the serving/conditioning fridge.
Since I’m serving this beer, I kept it in the keg for 12 days at 41º, and carbonated to 2.3 volumes. It is perfectly acceptable (mandatory in my opinion) for this beer to be cloudy, so no fining agents were added.
The Director of Rutgers Veteran & Military Programs & Services wanted to memorialize this beer, so he had the recipe and logo framed and installed in the Vet House on the College Ave. Campus. Cool!
First, I wanted to point out that the only way this project is actually possible is that I have fine people to drink all the beer I make. If you’re looking to tackle the entire BJCP Guidelines, or are simply trying to perfect a recipe with several batches, consider serving them at events. I think to get the initial event traffic, you have to brew pretty solid beer, and constantly give bottles away. After awhile, people will begin asking you for entire batches for this party or that event. It has gotten to the point for me where I sometimes have to turn people down (but try not to).
Serving at events not only allows you to brew more and still keep your liver intact, but it also makes you an ambassador to our great hobby. Additionally, I have also found that it helps create new craft beer lovers: countless people I have served to at events are surprised by how much they enjoy craft beer when they’ve been used to only 1 or 2 domestic lagers. Sierra Nevada, DogFish Head, Sam Adams, Anchor and countless other craft breweries do a lot to convert Americans back to tasty, interesting and boundary pushing brew, but home brewers have the capacity to at least equal their efforts on a local level.
And now it’s time to turn the beer over to our Team Tasting Imbiber. Some say his lawn mower beer is Russian Imperial Stout, and that he doesn’t even own a lawnmower. All we know is, He’s called The Stig!
Aroma: Under-ripe banana-like esters. A bit of marzipan nuttiness. Very subtle rye spice character. Rather doughy, autolytic.
Appearance: Hazy, Pale Gold ~ 4 degrees SRM. Egg-shell white head with moderate retention and lazily receding lacing.
Flavor: Tastes like a saltine cracker. Wheat tang mid palate and grainy rye spice in the finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, with lingering dry, semi-bitter after-taste. Some warming alcohol despite only being 5% ABV.
Overall Impression: I feel like this beer lacks conviction. Despite the style guidelines permitting the presence of both wheat and rye, featuring equal parts of both seems to leave the beer in no man’s land. Either wheat or rye should be more prominent in such a beer so that one or the other is the primary focus. Perhaps a cleaner yeast strain could be implemented as well, or a lower temp fermentation? There seem to be too many yeast driven aromatics present.
The yeast driven aromatics are certainly because of the Hefe yeast. While not as apparent as a German Hefe would be, it is still there. I almost wish we could have done a side-by-side with WLP001. Maybe The Stig would have approved more of that version. The Guidelines do say esters can be moderate, so my choice isn’t out of style. I kind of like the weird take on a Hefe, something I consider to be fairly boring.
I can’t see how He’s getting autolytic on the nose, considering the beer was only in primary 10 days. Probably some intermingling of other aromas giving a similar profile.
The Stig and I had some back and forth on this beer and the project. He made a good point: since I’m only brewing each beer in the Guidelines once, I have no chance to improve on a recipe. It is entirely possible that I make beers which are well brewed from a technical standpoint but simply aren’t great recipes. That really is the hard part, isn’t it? Combining technical prowess with the ability to understand how ingredients work together to make a great beer, the later being something that I, at the moment, have yet to master. I suppose that is the overall point of this exercise, to improve my ability to predict what grain bills and hop schedules will taste like. I could just brew everything straight out of “Classic Styles” and call it a day, but I want to be more creative than that, and I don’t feel I’ll learn as much just copying what is out there. Unfortunately, that means some of the beers I brew will just be “meh”. But I don’t consider that result negative, because there is something to be learned from it. I can’t let negative feedback from The Stig discourage me from being creative, because I feel that risk taking is what can sometimes yield something amazing.
So for this beer, if I had to do it again, I’d make several changes. First, I bump the rye percentage up another 10%. Secondly, I’d completely abandon the Hefe yeast idea all together, and use a cleaner American yeast strain (if you read The Guidelines, it even says to use clean American yeast… I seem to have missed that point during formulation). I’d also probably bump up the IBUs up, maybe even past the recommended upper limit 30 IBUs, with some more late hops that feature floral aromatics. Last, I’d bump the fermentation temperature down a few more degrees to keep those esters in check.
Books I referenced for this recipe
Palmer, John. How to Brew. 2006.
Zainasheff & Palmer. Brewing Classic Styles. 2007.
2008 BJCP Guidelines.