A couple weeks ago, thanks in large part to my friend Matt (AKA BrewDaddy) loaning me his gear, I was able to brew up my first from-grain batch of beer with another friend of mine, Scott. Scott has brewed beer from concentrates before, and I’ve brewed ciders and been through the grain brewing process with Matt, but neither of us had really done the whole thing before. Scott and I decided to do a light wheat beer for the hot summer days that are on the way. After much research, I settled on a Bavarian Hefeweizen (one of my favorite beers) and this recipe from Bee Cave Brewery. I had to tweak it a bit since we were planning on a 10 gallon batch, and not all of the recommended ingredients were available. I’m actually happy that the they weren’t though because that meant I had to poke around a bit, and ended up getting all Northwestern grown ingredients, much of them coming from Oregon. The grains were even malted in Washington, right on the Columbia. This local flair contributed to the name. Not only was it made in my backyard, but the ingredients came from my figurative backyard as well!
I got the majority of my ingredients from the Valley Vintner and Brewer, which I’d not shopped at before. It’s a nice little place. Most of the gear (well, most of my gear, which wasn’t much) and little odds and ends I got from our usual go-to brewing supply place, The Home Fermenter Center.
The day we brewed was kinda cold and rainy, so I got out early to put the popup out, and ended up just carrying on and getting everything setup before Scott arrived.
Once he got here, the first order of business was getting the mash started. As per Matt’s instructions, I tempered the mash tun (cooler) with a small amount of near boiling water. This would help minimize thermal loss into the cooler itself. Then we heated water to 170 degrees to start the mash. Again, according to Matt that’s the target temperature with this gear so that you hit the right temperature range in the mash to get the enzymes doing their thing. We poured it in, and hit our target 153 degrees dang near perfectly.
We let the mash sit for 90 minutes, and then started the lautering process. I goofed a bit at this step and failed to keep track of how much water I was using, so we ended up having to guesstimate the volume based that actually ended up in the modified keg we used for our boil. The final volume we wanted was about 12 gallons so we would boil down to about 10 gallons over the hour that the boil is scheduled for. Our target original gravity for the wort was 1.052. We ended up at 1.056, so our guesstimating turned out OK.
Next step is the boil. The boil for this beer was an hour long, with the 1.5 oz of bittering hops added 15 minutes in (or at 45 minutes in the “proper” parlance) and the .5 oz of aroma hops added at 45 minutes (again, this would be at 15 minutes to most brewers, who apparently count time backwards).
Once the boil completed, we cooled it to about 70 degrees using the copper coil chiller you can see in the setup photo above. Then we drained it into some sanitized buckets and poured the wort back and forth between them to aerate it. Yeast needs oxygen! Then we poured it into our primary fermenters, pitched our yeast (one packet per 5 gallons) and that completed most of the hard work. Chickens also enjoy brewing, the spent grain makes a very tasty treat.
After waiting about 13 days for the primary fermentation to complete, we bottled it. Wheat beers like this don’t typically go through a secondary fermentation. Just before bottling I boiled about 2 cups of water and dissolved about 3/4 of a cup of white sugar in it to act as a priming solution.
All in all, it was a great experience, and something I’m looking forward to doing again. And the results so far are fantastic. It’s been in the bottle about two weeks, and I think it will really peak in about another week or so. At that point it needs to go into cold storage or it will start declining.
- 13 lbs of Great Western Organic White Wheat Malt
- 7 lbs of Great Western Oregon State Select Barley Malt
- 1 lb of rice hulls (to keep the mash from “sticking”)
- 2 oz of Mt Hood Hops (A descendant of the recommended Hallertau, bred for growing in the Pacific NW)
- 2 packages of Wyeast 3068 ( This is the famed Weihenstephan yeast strain that gives Weizen beers much of their character)
- Target Original Gravity: 1.052 (actual for this batch 1.056)
- Target Terminal Gravity: 1.009 (actual for this batch 1.010)
- Mash for 90 minutes at 153 degrees.
- Boil for 60 minutes, adding 1.5 oz of hops at 45 minutes and .5 oz of hops at 15 minutes.
- Ferment for 10 days (actual for this batch 13 days)
- Add priming solution, crash-cool if possible, and bottle
- Allow to bottle condition for 2-3 weeks.