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Hefeweizen Help

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beerborne

Apprentice Brewer

Posts: 25

Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:32 pm

Post Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:30 pm

Hefeweizen Help

First of all, thanks to everyone out there for all the posts, I've learned a lot just reading through the forum for the past 8 months.

I am on my third all-grain attempt at a hefeweizen using the NB Bavarian Hefeweizen kit. The first two I dumped out because they were terrible. I just tasted a sample of my third batch and while drinkable, I wont call it an improvement. It seems watery to me and has a bitter taste that I dont believe is from hops, it's possible the bitterness tastes like cloves or at least in that taste ballpark. I know cloves is in the flavor profile for hefe's but this is different.

I mashed at 152 for 60 minutes using a mash thickness of 1.25 qt/lb and ended up with about 5.25 gal in the fermentor and a slightly low OG of 1.044 (vs 1.049 as the receipe called for). I used WLP300 with a starter calculated from Mr. Malty. I pitched around 64 degrees F and it fermented at 64-68 F using a swamp cooler.

I've never thrown away beer except for these two hefe batches and what makes it especially painful is that hefe is my favorite beer after 3 years in germany and a german wife. If it helps rule things out, I used the exact procedure above to make NB's all-grain dunkelweizen (yeast, temps, mash, etc) and it's fantastic, my wife is rationing it until her folks arrive.

Thanks in adavance for your help!
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tom sawyer

Master Brewer

Posts: 8936

Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:29 am

Location: Hannibal, MO

Post Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:39 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

Sounds like you're doing things right. My guess is its a water issue. I think your water might be suitable for brown ales but not the light colored hefe. You might need to add some calcium chloride to lower your mash pH, provide adequate calcium for the mash enzymes and chloride to soften and enhance the grainy flavors. Without knowing your water's chemistry, you really are taking a shot in the dark though. Maybe you have high sulfate and this is making a bitter taste. You might try building your water from bottled and salts, or dilute your own half with RO water and then add the calcium chloride.

Good luck, I've been on a long quest for a really good hefe. I'm closing in on it. I'd recommend adding a little crystal 40 to your kit next time, I've found the better hefes have just a little sweetness that really adds to the flavor.

I also just read something about not reusing the hefe yeasts for too many generations or they can start making a tartness, I think I've seen this in my own beers since I ranch the yeast and have used it many generations now.

I'm partial to dunkelweizens although I've been making them darker than I probably should. My wife loves the hefes, although we recently had the Ayingers Ur Weizen which is closer to a dunkel and she fell in love with it.
Lennie

Brewing: Lambics (always), dopplebock
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JimInNJ

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Master Brewer

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Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2006 12:55 pm

Post Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:54 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

Plus one on the water. Is the bitterness something like sucking on a tea bag? I would guess that your mash and sparge pH are too high and you are extracting tannins. Dark grains in the Dunkelweizen lowered the pH for you and prevented the problem in that batch.

Your solution could be as simple as adding some Acid Malt to the grist and sparging with distilled water.

- Jim
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beerborne

Apprentice Brewer

Posts: 25

Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:32 pm

Post Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:13 am

Re: Hefeweizen Help

Thank you both for your help! I've been hoping to avoid getting into water chemistry, but I guess I will dive in!
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brewingdan

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Master Brewer

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Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 8:40 am

Location: Fort Worth, TX Y'all!!

Post Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:31 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

While I've never made undrinkable Hefes I am on the quest to perfect my current recipe.

Have you tried adding 5.2 to your mash. I use it for all my beers and haven't had any off flavors across the color spectrum.

The most recent batch I added in a wee bit of Vienna malt, .5lb of caramunich 60L and did a single decoction.

~All in hopes of reaching that ahhhh Munich moment!!
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beerborne

Apprentice Brewer

Posts: 25

Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:32 pm

Post Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:04 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

I haven't used 5.2, do you think that would solve my problem? I'm certainl looking for a solution that doesnt require a degree in chemical engineering! :D
Thanks for your help.

Jason
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jeebeel

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Master Brewer

Posts: 198

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:52 am

Post Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:45 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

I'm a user of 5.2 and also have not had off flavors either - I would try it.

Here's the forum's encyclopedia for your favorite style (which is also one of mine): viewtopic.php?f=5&t=40751&start=0&hilit=great+bavarian+hefeweizen

Great information on there from many excellent brewers. My current best hefe:

50% german wheat
30% german pils
20% german lt. munich
2 cups rice hulls
3.5 AAU german hallertauer - 60 min
5.2
mash at 154
2L starter WL380
ferment at 62
2 week primary, then into keg
start drinking at 4 weeks
fantastic results - on par with many I've had during extensive travels in Germany and better than many due to freshness

Good luck!
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JimInNJ

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Joined: Sat Mar 25, 2006 12:55 pm

Post Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:45 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

I think 5.2 is better suited to making soft water hard then making hard water soft.

Study some water chemistry, in the long run you will be glad you did.

http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

- Jim
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tom sawyer

Master Brewer

Posts: 8936

Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:29 am

Location: Hannibal, MO

Post Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:40 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

I think the 5.2 buffer might work for you, that or just a teaspoon of calcium chloride. That works wonders for me, I can see the difference in the hot and cold break (much better). If your water is from a public water supply sourced from a river, your water shouldn't be so hard as to be outside the help of one of these options. You can always dilute 50:50 with bottled water but then I'd definitely add the calcium salt.

See if you can get a water report from your treatment facility. Where in the country are you anyway?

Good looking recipe jeebeel, I'm sure the Munich gives it some color and malt flavor but does the 154F mash leave it sweet enough?
Lennie

Brewing: Lambics (always), dopplebock
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beerborne

Apprentice Brewer

Posts: 25

Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:32 pm

Post Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:25 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

I'm in the Alexandria VA area, so yeah I get my water from the city and I'm pretty sure it's from the potomac. I've found the water report online but it's two pages of chemicals and I havent read enough on water chemistry to know what I'm looking for. I guess I need to do some reading and I will certainly give the 5.2 a try.

Jason
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Troglodyte

Master Brewer

Posts: 107

Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 8:44 pm

Post Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:55 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

Hi there Jason. I'm across the river from you, in the District. You've really got me scratching my head as I can't imagine that our water profiles are that dissimilar. Coming to grips with the water out here was initially quite frustrating because while the DC water report suggests that our water is best suited for mid-amber beers, our water actually brews very soft. In fact, many of my best house ales are pure base malt ales that settle comfortably into the ideal pH range. For example, the sparkling ale that I brewed today consisted of nothing more than 5lbs of pale malt, 5lbs of pilsner malt, and filtered and Campden treated tap water. All my light-dark golden beers require no water modification, with one exception. We have low calcium content, so light, hoppy beers benefit from a dash of calcium, otherwise they come across as being too round and soft. A bit of calcium tightens up the hop profile considerably. I've also found that knocking our sodium back with a measure of distilled water also helps, in conjunction with the added calcium, to really sharpen a recipe's hop profile.

My dark beers, on the other hand, require fairly substantial water treatment to raise the pH into the workable range. Reviewing my brew log, here are some quotes from my early efforts at brown to black ales: "5.2 had no effect, way low," "pH too low again," "extra teaspoon of calcium bicarbonate got it near, still a bit low," "never use baking soda ever again!," etc. All my pH measurements were done with colorpHast strips.

Turning directly to your issue, it was actually a pure wheat and pilsner Hefe recipe that clued me into the idea that, un-modified, our water behaves soft in the tun, despite what the water reports say. So your difficulty with a Hefe has me really scratching my head.

Are you using a water softener? That might be causing your trouble. Also, are you using Campden tablets? DC uses chloramine rather than chlorine, so filtering alone is not enough, nor is boiling effective. I'd wager Alexandria is also a chloramine user, too.

Hope this was useful.
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jeebeel

User avatar

Master Brewer

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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:52 am

Post Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:02 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

tom sawyer wrote:Good looking recipe jeebeel, I'm sure the Munich gives it some color and malt flavor but does the 154F mash leave it sweet enough?


For my tastes, the malt profile was just right: slightly sweet, bready, soft. That being said, I'm always open to what others do - what is your preferred mash temp?
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tom sawyer

Master Brewer

Posts: 8936

Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:29 am

Location: Hannibal, MO

Post Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:29 am

Re: Hefeweizen Help

I've been mashing at 152 and my temp will drift down a few degrees over the course of a 90min mash so its a pretty well-attenuated mash schedule. Thats why I am considering crystal/caramunich malt for my next one. I will probably use a little Munich malt as well, both because of the nice flavor and because I have a sack of the stuff to use.
Lennie

Brewing: Lambics (always), dopplebock
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vpsihop1

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Master Brewer

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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:40 pm

Location: Troy, MI

Post Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:02 pm

Re: Hefeweizen Help

couple oz of acid malt can also help ya out
Austria.

AUSTRIA!! well then, G'DAY MATE!!
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beerborne

Apprentice Brewer

Posts: 25

Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:32 pm

Post Sun Aug 29, 2010 7:06 am

Re: Hefeweizen Help

Until now I havent paid any attention to water chemistry, so I dont really know enough to comment, but I have made lighter color beers like cream ale and pale ale that both came out very good. My only problem seems to be hefe's, today I'm making a stout, so I'll see how that turns out. I do use the campden tablets and we dont use a water softner.
Thank you all very much, I will reattack soon after I break out the periodic table and my calculator and hopefully it'll come out better.

Jason

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