Summer time is coming, and to us, that means wheat beers. Wheat beers are little bit more tart than 100% barely beers, which makes them more thirst quenching in warm weather. Wheat beers are generally around 30% to 70% wheat, with the remaining percentage being barley. Hefeweizens are a German style of wheat beers. What makes them different is the yeast they use. Hefeweizen yeast adds banana, clove, pepper, citrus and sometimes bubblegum flavours to the beer. Also, because the yeast takes a long time to settle out of the beer (flocculation), the beer remains hazy.
Our hefeweizen is inspired by the grapefruit taste of cascade hops, and the Cascade Falls that are close to our brewery. We wanted to make a hefeweizen that was fruity, slightly sweet, and not too bitter. It is Cascadian in its flavour, but not in its bitterness. So we named it after the Cascade Falls that are close to our homebrewery. Also, water falls look pretty.
This is also our first time using White Lab yeast. We’ve never had access to White Lab yeast until a new hombrew store started up in Mission. So thanks to Fraser Valley Hop and Grain, we are able to expand our brewing horizons. Check them out if you are in the Fraser Valley area.
For the tasting, we felt like we should take the beer to Cascade Falls for the first taste. As it so often does in the Cascade region, is started raining, thus our hike up to the falls was quite damp, and cold. Was it worth it? Not really. But the pictures looked nice.
(AJ, while looking incredibly foolish, pouring the Cascade Falls Hefeweizen in the pouring rain.)
Appearance: It is a dark orange, darker than your average hefeweizen. (the picture makes the beer look much darker than it actually is, as it was a dark and cloudy day)
Aroma: There is a medium citrus hop aroma with some spices and banana as well. But the hop aroma dominates.
Taste: At first, there are flavours you expect from a hefewiezen, such as the banana and cloves, but there are strong citrus notes that come in later. There is a mildly sweet flavour, yet it linger quite sometime. The hop flavour exists, but it is very mild. There is no bitterness at all. If anything, the beer is too sweet, perhaps the CaraHelle malt should not have been added, or some bittering hops should been added.
Overall: This beer is a good combination of the yeast flavour from hefeweizen, and the Cascadian hops. It is easy drinking, yet lingers a while. It is a bit too sweet for our liking, but it is nice beer for summer heat. If we remake this, we will be adding considerably more cascade hops. The WL380 yeast leaves a very strong aroma and flavour, thus we are not concerned about cascade hops overwhelming the yeast flavour/aroma.
Specifics: 23 litre batch, 66% extraction efficiency, ABV 5.7%, O.G. 1.056, IBU 10, single infusion mash for 100 minutes at 66 Celcius.
We created a hefeweizen grain bill with a twist. We added a little bit of Munich Light and CaraHell to give the hefeweizen a little more flavour. Also, we mashed the beer for 100 minutes (instead to the normal 60 minutes). This, as well as a lower mash temperature of 66 Celsius, will result in a drier, less sweet beer. This is because the sugars in the beer broken down more, making them more fermentable. We wanted the sweetness of CaraHell malt to balance out the dryness of the beer.
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 7 lb (Obviously we need wheat in our beer. Malted wheat has less ‘wheat flavour’ than flaked wheat, but malted wheat is easier to mash. Wheat makes up 48% of this hefeweizen. Plus as the picture to the right shows, doesn’t wheat just look summery?)
Gambrinus Pale Malt: 6 lb (We need some pale malt to ensure we do not get a stuck sparge)
Gambrinus Munich Light: 1 lb (This malt just adds a little bit of malty depth to the beer. Makes the beer a little more interesting without adding too much colour)
CaraHell: 8 oz (This malt is similar to Carmel 15. We used it to add a little bit of sweetness to the beer)
This is where the beer gets a little more interesting. We used no bitter hops, meaning we didn’t boil any of the hops for longer than 30 minutes. Instead, we boiled our hops for less than 20 minutes. Also, instead of using a German hop like Hallertau that would add a delicate floral aroma, we used the classic Pacific Northwest hop Cascade to add a grapefruit flavour. This means the beer will be less bitter, but have more grapefruit flavour and aroma from the Cascade hops. Also, the IBUs of this beer will be low (around 10 IBUs).
Typically, hefeweizens only use very small amounts of Noble (or German) bittering hops, with no aroma and flavour hops. This allows the flavour of the hefeweizen yeast to be more noticeable.
(Dried cascade hops waiting to be added to the beer)
20 minutes: 0.5 oz Cascade (These hops will add grapefruit and citrus flavour to the beer. Also, some of the acid from the hops will add some bitterness to the beer.)
5 minutes: 0.5 oz Cascade (These hops add a strong grapefruit aroma to the hefeweizen. We didn’t want to add too many hops because we wanted some of the aroma hefeweizen yeast to be noticeable.)
(Boiling the hops in the beer, with a thermometer floating in the middle)
We used White Labs’ WL380 Hefeweizen yeast. Appearently this yeast will add apricot and citrus flavours. So to us, that sounded fantastic. We don’t really know too much about fermenting hefeweizens. The fermentation of a hefeweizen is very important, because hefeweizens get most of the their flavour from the yeast. We only let the beer ferment for 11 days, because some people say hefeweizens are just enjoyed young, when the yeast is still active.
Primary Fermentation: 11 days at 19 Celcius