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Why is my Wit Dunkel?

Let me start by saying that I have a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl, so the ~2 hours I spend extract brewing during her nap time is about all the time that I can spend brewing; SWMBO will not be happy if I spend even more time ignoring the kids to partial mash and she will cut off all brewing privileges if I state that I want to start buying the equipment to spend most of a day outside all-grain brewing.

This weekend I brewed a simple wit: 6 lbs of NB’s Wheat LME in approximately 2.5 gallons water, 1 oz Hallertau for a 60 minute boil, ice bath until cool, cool water to make 5 gallons, then Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier. My intent is to rack to secondary over about 3 lbs of cranberries and 5 granny smith apples for a brew I call Fall’s Delight.

The problem is that it looks almost identical to the Saison de Noel that I brewed a few weeks ago. Is this the result of using LME? Would DME have retained a lighter color? Is this something I will have to live with until the kids get a little older?

Thanks in advance for any sage advice you can offer.

Although extract brewing does result in a darker wort, it wouldn’t be that dark! I suspect that they must have messed up the kit they sent. I checked the kit and it doesn’t appear to have any steeping grains. Did you confirm that the LME was in fact the wheat?

Maybe you can change the name to Fall’s Surprise! That is pretty dark for the style.

I did not use a kit, I bought the ingredients individually. The label stated that it was wheat, unless the LME was mis-labeled I am positive that I used the correct malt.

You didn’t use any steeping grains at all?

None. I figure the fruit additions in secondary will give me all of the subtle flavors I can hope for.

Based on the headscratching I received both here and on Facebook, I am guessing that my stove is responsible for darkening the wort. It’s not scorched or burnt, but I do not know what else could be possible.

I’ve only brewed one extract batch so far, but it was also a wheat based recipe from NB (American Wheat). Mine also came out very dark although not quite as dark as yours! Mine came out looking like a nut brown ale or perhaps a little darker than that. Perhaps there is something funny going on with NB’s wheat extracts? Mine was LME as well. The good news is, the beer was fantastic (in fact it is all gone which is a bit of a bummer right now).

I’m only on my 4th brew kit and this time I chose the Bavarian Heffeweise extract kit with an additional 1lb 55% wheat/45% barley dry extract and it too was very dark. My 12 year old son and I just finished bottling last night. It tastes delicious but it’s still dark. Remembering the instructions, I think it says to only add about 1/3 of the liquid extract at the start of the boil and add all the other extract with only 15 minutes left in the boil. Does adding more extract at the beginning of the boil translate to darker beer? I found regardless of the color, if I follow the instructions the beer still tastes great.

Adding only a portion of the extract at the beginning of a partial boil lessens the chance of scorching the wort. It can also slightly increase the hop utilization.

The beer usually looks darker when in a carboy verses in a glass.

To the OP, think about some trading you can do with your wife. An afternoon for herself to go out with some friends for coffee or a glass of wine in exchange for an afternoon of brewing.

I appreciate everyone’s insights and thoughts. It sounds like it might be the LME that caused the Wit to darken; have no fear though, the 3 lbs of cranberries still reddened the mix noticably and I hope to have the time to bottle this weekend.

Go to late extract additions to lighten the color of your wort. Water used in the boil may also play a part in the beer being darker than the style typically is.

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