Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Dark American Wheat Beer

I love Cornstalker by Thunderhead Brewing Co. I was wondering if I could recreate it by adding some grain to a American Wheat Beer extract kit. I generally don’t stray from the directions, so I’m new to experimenting. Any suggestions would be appreciated!!

I don’t know anything about that beer, but I would assume it’s basically a dunkelweizen but fermented with an American wheat yeast. If that’s the case, I would do exactly that. Find a dunkelweizen kit and swap the German wheat yeast for an American wheat yeast.

This beer is a lot darker than a dunkel…it looks almost like a stout, but tastes lighter. I looked around on the internet and am thinking I need a chocolate malt for flavoring…not positive on the amount. Not sure if I need any other extract or not.

Here’s what I could find. Been so long since I’ve done extract, I won’t attempt to give advice on a recipe. I’m sure I could give it a shot with all grain.

[i]Cornstalker is a black version of an American-style wheat beer, as opposed to a dunkel weizen. It is brewed with malted organic corn, as well as wheat and barley, with the idea of involving the local farming community, and giving Nebraskans a chance to try a dark beer.

ABV: 5.2
ABW: n/a
Color: n/a
Bitterness: 17
Original gravity: 1052

The label features a desperado about to rob a beer bank. The name Thunderhead Cornstalker is big and imposing, yet the brew is delicate—more lightweight than heavy hitter. Dark as the night before a tornado, the tan head quickly fades yielding a nose with hints of coffee. Pleasant on the palate with little detectable barley or wheat character. We quaffed it with salted and buttered popcorn while watching a movie, about the Wild West, what else!
- Charles Finkel

It’s corn, wheat and barley brewed with a multi-dimensional thick head of foam. A good sign of things done correctly. Mild malt aroma and flavor with an erudite touch of roast character. At 5.2 percent, it’s a refreshing brew with plenty of wit to satisfy both veteran and new beer enthusiasts. It’s a Thunderhead cloud of joy. Confident, compelling and once again I’m reaching for my wallet. Lightning strikes.
- Charlie Papazian[/i]

EDIT: I think the problem trying to duplicate this with extract is that they apparently use a good bit of corn, which will thin a beer. I’m not sure how you’d duplicate that with extract. How about partial mash?

I didn’t realize one could malt corn. Some solid albeit verbose praise from 'Ol Charlie though!

It is a really good beer…got it when the local liquor store had a buy one six-pack, get one for a penny. Made for a good tailgate!! So, I know I won’t be using the corn, but I figured by using the American Wheat extract it would be “thin” enough to mimic the real thing. I’m not looking to get the exact thing, but I liked the fuller flavor yet not as filling as a stout.

Find an American Wheat kit and do a mini-mash with a little chocolate malt and roasted barley (or maybe you can just steep both?). Not too much though or you’ll definitely head towards a stout type of beer.

You would have to steep roast barley since it isn’t malted. Chocolate malt is the same since the kilning process would have killed the enzymes.

I would suggest you cold steep some midnight wheat to add to the wheat kit.

How much chocolate malt would you recommend? 1/2 lb? Would 1 lb be too much?

Based on Dobe’s research, I’d recommend the following for a 5 gallon batch:

6.6 lbs (2 cans) wheat liquid extract
1/2 lb darkly roasted malt
3/4 lb table sugar (this replaces the corn and lightens the body as the corn would)

For the darkly roasted malt, you could use midnight wheat, or something else, depending on the flavor you want to get. Carafa special might also be a good choice, as it gives a very restrained roast flavor. Steep the crushed, roasted malt only long enough to get the color out - 10 minutes should be plenty of time.

No mention of hop flavor or aroma, meaning only bittering hops were used, or a variety with more restraint. I’d probably go with Williamette if you like earthy, or Mt. Hood if you prefer floral. Whichever you pick, use 1/2 oz at 60 min and 1/2 oz at 20 min. Crystal, Sterling, Mittelfruh or Tettanger could also work, though those tend to be lower in AA so you’d likely need 3/4 oz at 60 minutes to get the IBUs right.

Use a neutral ales yeast, like US-06 or Wyeast 1056, fermented cool in the low 60s.

Thanks a lot…I never thought to substitute sugar for the corn…

I think you can also buy corn extract, which should also give you a touch of corn flavor, but the lightening of the body is the big issue here. The reason it does this is that by replacing some of the complex sugars found in malt with simple sugar, the yeast ferment it out better.

Let everyone know what you decide to do and how it turns out. Never had that beer, but it sounds good.

Just for arguments sake, would steeping 1/2 roasted malt really make the body that heavy so that the sugar is needed to lighten it?

The roast malt doesn’t make the body heavy at all - it is the malt extract that does that. Beers made from extract are often less fermentable than all-grain brews, which makes extracts difficult to use for very dry beers. You can partially get around that by replacing a small portion of the extract with sugar. But that’s not why I recommended it. I recommended it because the original has corn, which does the same thing - it lightens the body.

I’ll admit the amount I recommended is just picked for convenience sake, as I have no idea how much corn there is in the original. But 3/4 pound provides the amount needed to bring the OG to target while using exactly two cans of extract.

After reading a different thread I have come up with one last question. Will steeping be enough, or do I need to do a partial mash to get what I need out of the grain? I’m guessing I don’t need to do the partial mash since it is such a small part of the grain build…but this is a fairly uneducated guess so I would do well to rely on a more experienced viewpoint. Thanks as always!

No need to do a partial mash for this.

You only need to mash grains that you are trying to convert the starch to sugar. Darkly roasted malts have pretty much had the starched destroyed already, so the only thing you’ll get out of them is color and roasted flavor. Just steep them. Crystal malts are also OK to just steep, as the starches have already been converted as part of the malting process. Base malts and adjuncts need to be mashed.

Awesome. Thanks man…you’ve been a wealth of knowledge! I’m planning on getting the items this weekend and making it next week sometime. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Finally got around to tipping a few of my Dark American Wheat. It was excellent…and quite close to the beer I tried to clone. I would say mine is a little lighter, but just as good. I ended up using 1/2 lb chocolate malt, 4 cups sugar, and the American Wheat extract kit. My guess is if I had used 1 lb of chocolate malt, I would have nailed the clone. As it is, I think I prefer my version to the original. Thanks for the help guys! This beer is going to be a staple in my arsenal.

So I’ve been thinking about the chocolate cherry stout in the beer exchange thread. I wonder how this dark wheat I made would do if I added the cherries and chocolate nibs to it. Would I need to add the lactose and and the dark candy syrup in place of the 4 cups of sugar from my original recipe?

Any thoughts on if this seems like a good idea? I would think it should work…but it is nice to lean on experience…

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com