Monday, February 08, 2010

Brewday: Schwarzweisse I

So I'd planned on brewing a Weizenbock this month and ordered ingredients to that effect. A big malty, wheaty, spicy 8% beast. However, around New Years I formed a resolution of sorts to brew more reasonable, low-octane house beers, hence my latest English Brown. So I figured I'd scale it down to a Dunkelweizen of some kind. But then I got to thinking, which is always dangerous: "Has anyone ever made a Schwarzbier-weizen?" Lo and behold, yes a few have. So I decided to take a crack at it myself. Ideally it will be a wheaty, spicy, malty, jet-black hefeweizen.

Recipe formulation was tricky on this one. At its heart it's a Dunkelweizen, but I'm tweaking the color and toastiness by careful use of Carafa II. Ideally, I'd planned on using Carafa Special II, which is dehusked to lessen any bitter, astringent character it might add (the bane of Schwarzbiers everywhere). Unfortunately, it can be tricky to find, and I only had 7 ounces of it.

But there's another way to make dark but not astringent beers: cold steeping. Like making cold-process coffee, soaking the roasted grains overnight in cold water will leech out the color and flavor, but not the harsh bitterness. So I steeped 5 ounces of normal Carafa II in a pound and a half of water, then sparged into another bowl with a little hot water, and added the steep near the end of the main sparge.

Brewday was a bit of a disaster. Long story short: I made a big, stupid mistake on the recipe. See, I'd gone to all this trouble to avoid getting the roasted grain above 170 degrees so it wouldn't leech tannins and roastiness. Weeeeeell I mashed in, looked to see what my next step was, and realized that without thinking about it I'd designed it for a double decoction mash! I was set for a protein/ferulic acid rest at 111-113 degrees, followed by a decoction to 152, followed by a decoction to 168. I was literally set to boil a portion of the grains I'd tried so hard to keep cool and pH buffered. So I swore for a bit, then thought about what I was going to do.

The miserable solution was four pseudo-decoctions. I pulled about 2.5 gallons, heated to 154, held for 15 minutes, heated to 168, added back into the mash. Repeat. As a result I ended up creating rests at 111, 122, 131, 144, and 151. So if this is the best beer ever it certainly will be a pain to replicate.

Other than that everything went mostly fine. I got an OG of 1.o50, which is less than expected. I attribute some of that to the crazy mash schedule, and some to my grain mill. Wheat berries need to be ground on a wider setting than barley kernels, as they are fatter. I learned my lesson on this a couple years ago when I was brewing a Triticale Pale Ale ("Tri-te-KAY-ley Pale-y Ale-y"). I left the mill set where it was for barley, put the pound of triticale in, and pulled the trigger on the hand drill I use to power it. The mill immediately jammed up, and the resulting torque of the drill flipped the entire mill over, spilling all of my grain across the deck. Lesson learned but the scars remain. Unfortunately, in a flash of stupidity, I mixed my wheat and Munich malt before I ground it. As a result, I had to grind the mix coarsely, and so I think I lost some efficiency off the Munich.

As a result of this chaos, I'm going to brew the same recipe again in a few days, with a double infusion this time and cold steeping all the Carafa separately. This way I can try them side by side and see the differences, if any.

Schwarzweisse I

All Grain, 6 gallons
Est OG: 1.053
Est FG: 1.014
Est ABV: 5.1%
Act OG: 1.050
IBU: 16
SRM: 29
  • 5 1/2 lbs Wheat Malt
  • 2 1/2 lbs Dark Munich Malt (20L)
  • 2 lbs Pale Malt
  • 12 oz Carafa Special II (or 12 oz. Carafa II, cold steeped separately)
  • 6 oz Special B
  • 4 oz Caramunich
  • 4 oz Caravienna
  • rice hulls before knockout
Mash as it should be: infusion at 113 for a Ferulic acid rest of 20 minutes, then infusion to 152 for a rest of 40 minutes or so until conversion. Add a few handfuls of rice hulls. Then infusion up to 168 for the sparge. Mash water treatment for Seattle water was: 8gm chalk, 1gm gypsum, 4 gm soda, 2 gm salt.

Mash as it was: infusion at .5 gallons/pound of grain at 113, then pull 2.5 gallon decoctions, raising to 152-54 for 15 minutes, then 168 and add back to the mash. Took four of these. Oy.

Collected 8 gallons for a 60 minute boil.

Whole Tettenanger Hops at 4.5%AA
  • 1 ounce at 60 minutes
  • 1/2 ounce at 30
  • 1/2 ounce at 0
Yeast is Safale WB-06 dry wheat yeast. Giving it a shot to see how it stacks up. Dry hefe yeasts have a bad rap, so hopefully this new one comes out great. Fermenting at 60, that's right, 60, down in my basement. Some people ferment them hot, like a Belgian, but I am firmly in the hefes-need-cold camp. The ferulic acid rest should provide enough precursors the the 'clove' character, 4-vinylguaiacol or '4VG', without it being overwhelming due to excess temperature.

Anyhow it's sitting downstairs chugging away. I'm giving it a 10 day primary then straight into bottles if the hydrometer says it's done. Should be drinkable inside of three weeks.

Update: 2/17/10

After 9 days gravity was 1.012 and I decided to bottle it. Got a good 19 22's and 25 12's out of it. It's like I laid 40 delicious little alcohol eggs.

Bottled the whole batch with 6 oz of priming sugar. I actually had to melt in some Cooper's Carb Drops because I only had 4 oz of corn sugar. It's been a long time since I bottled a whole batch, but that's the only way to go with hefe's. My past experience kegging them (given no separate regulator for upping the pressure just on the hefe) has been...not so good. The pressure creates a lot of foam and the yeast and haze just settle as they get cold. I actually hear some commercial breweries store their hefe kegs upside down so they get flipped when finally delivered to the customer. Anyhow, this should be 2.9 volumes of CO2, high but right for the style. Seriously looking forward to popping one of these. There was a nice banana thing going on. My only concern is a bit too much lemon-tartness. Also: not black. Not black at all. Very, very dark Dunkelweis, but not dark enough. Back to the drawing board.

UPDATE: 3/2/10 Taste.
UPDATE: Bronze at the 2010 Cascade Brewer's Cup!


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