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Contributed by Hubert Hanghofer   
May 12, 1996 at 12:00 AM
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Weißbier Compass
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Brewing Wheat

-Some tips for homebrewers

Traditional bottle conditioned Hefeweizen can be brewed at home in authentic quality, if you follow some basic rules.

-Flavor and aromas are determined by certain factors:

  1. The use of a very unique top fermenting yeast
  2. The share of malted wheat is at least 50%
  3. High carbonation of 5.5-9 grams / Liter
  4. Bitterness is at the limit of perception, 10-15 IBU


  • Don't substitute the yeast by other ale strains. The typical (must have!) aromas are caused by certain fermentation by-products of Weizen yeast: isopentyl (=isoamyl) -acetate (bananas), 4-vinyl guaiacol and 4-vinyl phenol (clove, vanilla).

  • In order to maintain this metabolic activities at repeated fermentings, it's necessary to keep the yeast in a young, fresh and vital condition. Using open fermentation this can be achieved by harvesting the yeast floating to the top. The yeast layer after the first 1-2 days, containing cold break and hop resins, is discharged. Furthermore it's good practice to grow the pitching yeast from small amounts.
  • The mashing schedule has influence on the formation of precursors. 4-Vinyl guaiacol is formed from ferulic acid by decarboxylation. Ferulic acid in turn is released from malt during mashing and reaches maximum values when resting at 40-45°C (optimum 44°C).
  • The enzymes that help to liberate the ferulic acid at these temperatures have a pH-optimum higher than the mash enzymes. So try to stay above pH 5.7 until you reach over 55°C in your mashing-schedule, then add acid malt or lactic acid to aid saccharification.
  • Besides low basic bittering a distinct hop aroma is avoided in many cases in order to promote the flavors given by yeast. Usage of Hersbrucker or Tettnanger hops is typical -varieties with very fine and noble, but mild aroma.
  • Sufficient carbonation during bottle conditioning is ensured by adding Speise (green, sterile wort) prior to bottling.
  • Cold conditioning is to be recommended, particularly to bind high carbonation rates. But make sure to hold room temperature after bottling until pressure has been built up (2-3 bar =28-42 psi / 4-10 days). Final attenuation and reduction of diacetyl has to be reached.
  • Don't age that beerstyle! The aromatic components have a short half-life. Flavor and aromas develop best from 2-6 weeks in the bottle. If lagered properly in a cool place then a flavor stability of 2-3 month can be expected.

More details for crafting these characteristics and about the history of Bavarian style wheat can be found in my German book "Bier brauen nach eigenem Geschmack".

Last Updated ( Jun 22, 2005 at 09:32 PM )
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