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Yeast alternatives for Belgian Wit

Howdy forumites, long time no see.

So, I have a friend (a former homebrewer himself) who has asked me to brew a Wit for an upcoming party. Now, this guys is very picky about his Wits and has complained that mine are too estery and phenolic. Personally I like them just fine, and I think belgian yeast is supposed to be estery and phenolic, but to each his own. The phenols in particular he would like to see reduced.

Anyway, I usually use the Wyeast Wit strain, can you guys think of anything else that might have less phenolic character? I don’t want to go full on american ale yeast, I still want belgian character, just maybe less so.

The only other thing I can think of that might produce too many phenols is fermentation temperature. However, in my new england basement, the last thing I’m doing is fermenting too warm. If anything its too cold. This time of year basement is upper fifties, and even very active fermentations stay in the low 60s.

I start out around 62 and try not to get above 67 deg. with 3944 and 3522. I think higher you get bubble gum phenols. I like mine subtle. I also heard WLP 351 or 3638 would make a good one with those temp ranges. My personal feeling is to stay low, just me.

I agree with the above statements. You still want to use a yeast that’s for a Wit or it really isn’t a Wit anymore. Just ferment on the cooler side and hold for the duration.

WY 3944 is solid, but I also like WY 3463 Forbidden Fruit.

I’ve used forbidden fruit before also, with results I liked but my friend equally did not care for. I think he may be looking for something that doesn’t exist, but thought I would at least ask around.

Is there any chance having my temperatures too low is causing an issue? They certainly aren’t too hot. The temp profile you guys described is pretty much exactly what I get in the summer. In the winter (and believe me its still winter here) it runs a few degrees colder.

Post the recipe. It’s hard to say for sure, but fermenting at lower temps (60-62F) should help control those Belgian flavors.

Is it possible he just doesn’t like Belgian Ales, but doesn’t realize it?

Recipe varies a bit here and there, but here’s a recent example. Nothing out of the ordinary. The thought that “maybe he just doesn’t like Beligians” has struck my mind.

Ingredients:

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
12.0 oz Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 1 6.9 %
5 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsen (Dingemans) (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 50.6 %
3 lbs 8.0 oz Unmalted Red Winter Wheat (1.6 SRM) Grain 3 32.2 %
1 lbs 2.1 oz Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 4 10.4 %
1.50 oz Saaz [3.60 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 20.8 IBUs
2.00 oz Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 6 -
0.75 oz Orange Peel, Sweet (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 7 -
1.0 pkg Belgian Witbier (Wyeast Labs #3944) [160 Yeast 8

If you’re set on making him something, and it’s a one time thing cut out the spices and use Wy1010 or 1056. That should be refreshing, make sure you kick up the carbonation. If he doesn’t like that he doesn’t like beer, MHO.

No offense, but I would NOT recommend using a neutral ale yeast in a recipe like this. It will honestly make a flabby and weird beer. If you are going to go in that direction, just make an American wheat and leave out all the oats, spices and unmalted nonsense. A wit needs wit yeast as it is a yeast-forward style.

As stated above, keep the temps low (64* maximum) at least for the first few days, and your phenols will be restrained. Wits are supposed to have phenols. and esters. So I agree with Old Guy to that extent. If this guy wants a dressed up Bud Light, or frigging Shock Top, he doesn’t want a wit.

Oh and a good wit NEEDS chamomile at flameout IMO.

[quote=“Nate42”]Recipe varies a bit here and there, but here’s a recent example. Nothing out of the ordinary. The thought that “maybe he just doesn’t like Beligians” has struck my mind.

Ingredients:

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
12.0 oz Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 1 6.9 %
5 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsen (Dingemans) (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 50.6 %
3 lbs 8.0 oz Unmalted Red Winter Wheat (1.6 SRM) Grain 3 32.2 %
1 lbs 2.1 oz Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 4 10.4 %
1.50 oz Saaz [3.60 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 20.8 IBUs
2.00 oz Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 6 -
0.75 oz Orange Peel, Sweet (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 7 -
1.0 pkg Belgian Witbier (Wyeast Labs #3944) [160 Yeast 8[/quote]

Could it be the coriander that he’s not liking? 2oz in 5 gallons is a TON, IMO. I use 1/2 oz and still feel the flavor comes through pretty well. You’re using 4x that amount. I know some people will use a full ounce, but IMO even that’s a lot and you’re using 2x that.

[quote=“dobe12”][quote=“Nate42”]Recipe varies a bit here and there, but here’s a recent example. Nothing out of the ordinary. The thought that “maybe he just doesn’t like Beligians” has struck my mind.

Ingredients:

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
12.0 oz Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 1 6.9 %
5 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsen (Dingemans) (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 50.6 %
3 lbs 8.0 oz Unmalted Red Winter Wheat (1.6 SRM) Grain 3 32.2 %
1 lbs 2.1 oz Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 4 10.4 %
1.50 oz Saaz [3.60 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 20.8 IBUs
2.00 oz Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 6 -
0.75 oz Orange Peel, Sweet (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 7 -
1.0 pkg Belgian Witbier (Wyeast Labs #3944) [160 Yeast 8[/quote]

Could it be the coriander that he’s not liking? 2oz in 5 gallons is a TON, IMO. I use 1/2 oz and still feel the flavor comes through pretty well. You’re using 4x that amount. I know some people will use a full ounce, but IMO even that’s a lot and you’re using 2x that.[/quote]

this is a great point. I typically cut the coriander to about a 1/2 ounce, but use the zest of pretty much as much fresh citrus as I can stand. For my last wit, which was $#@ing awesome if I do say so my $#@ing self, had the zest of one navel orange, one tangerine, one tangelo, and a grapefruit.

Keep in mind that the cooler your fermentation temperature (upper 50s to low 60s?), the more yeast you need to pitch for a healthy fermentation. If you stress out your yeast, you will certainly get more esters and phenols. Pitch bigger than you think you need. What’s been your pitch size, and for what volume batch size (5?)?

Also a great point. Over pitching and pitching cold will both restrain those yeast flavors some. As dmtaylo2 said if you pitch cold, but under pitch, you’ll stress the yeast which will cause stronger yeast flavors to come through.

The prob with Wits are that people think of Blue Moon as the stellar example. Chances are your friend likes Blue Moon and that’s what he wants in a wit. If that’s the case you need to use WY1056.

The particular coriander I use is pretty mellow, 2oz isn’t as much as it sounds. Although I admit I like it heavy on the coriander. I forget the exact starter size I used last time, but I typically follow the mr malty recommendations. He’s adamant that he does not want an american wheat, at this point I’m leaning toward doing what I always do and telling him to deal with it. I’ve made this same beer for a party before and the keg was gone within a few hours, so plainly people liked it.

Over on the AHA forum under All Grain, Another Band-aid Off Flavor thread, Tyler Cipriani suggests using a lower pitching rate for Belgian Wits to keep the phenols low. He even states that this seems like heresy or something of the sort. Denny seemed to accept his assertion since Tyler is very scientific about his observations. I usually don’t like wheat beers because of the banana flavor (two banana splits after swimming lessons when I was a kid didn’t make it home). Brewing and tasting my own beer has made me question the clove taste too (because I fermented too warm a few times). I have been trying commercial wheat beers because I grow my own wheat and want to use it for my beer. I found Hoergarden is by far my favorite white wheat beer and plan on using WY3944 for my clone of it. I think your friend should let you know which commercial beer he likes to get you to a starting place. Maybe he should spring for a taste testing!

The banana flavor is from hefeweizen-type yeasts typically. Wheat just gives a slightly slick mouthfeel and very full but refreshing malt flavor. And I’m with you on the banana ester. If there is one beer style I could do without, its hefeweizen, but I don’t mind the ones where the banana flavor is minimized.

Hoegaarden is a witbier though, not a hefe, so it (and Bluemoon and Shock Top) should not have banana. Allagash White is one of the best wits I’ve ever had. Witbier yeasts typically give off clove and citrus esters, but banana would be way out of place on one of those.

If you have wheat at your disposal, if you can malt it, you can use it in APAs, blondes, American Wheats (usually hop-forward), dusseldorf alts, berliners, maybe even a kolsch. If you keep it unmalted, use it in a wit or a lambic. I understand a lot of British bitters use wheat as an adjunct as well.

We recently made a weizenbock, which uses a ton of malted wheat and a hefe yeast, however keeping the ferment in the low, low 60’s results in minimal, if any banana.

Well, looks like for the time my problem has gone away, my friend (who is recovering from some pretty major surgery) has decided he’s not up for the big party he was planning on throwing. Regardless though, next time I brew a wit for myself, I will try less coriander, and also keep a close eye on temperature. I may even under pitch (compared to mr malty recommendations) a smidge.

Thanks for the help guys.

Nate

Under pitching and fermenting cooler will give you opposite effects. Under pitching will stress the yeast a bit, leading to more esters. Fermenting cool has the opposite effect. It helps suppress esters.

I have always thought underpitching was bad too. Tyler Cipriani is pretty clear that this is what worked for him when trying to get less phenols. I am not sure what he means by 6E6 cells/mL as being the right amount compared to a larger amount. Please look at that thread and tell me what you think. Sorry I am not savvy enough to cut and paste it here. Thanks for the info Pietro, I now KNOW that I want to brew a witbier because it tastes good to me and the recipe calls for 50% UNMALTED wheat. Thanks again for all the knowledge I gain here.

The concept that I’ve seen Denny and a few others throw around on this subject is that when yeast produce certain byproducts, like say esters in this case, pitching more makes more yeast and thus more byproduct. Sounds logical that more=more, but this is of course contrary to what used to be conventional wisdom: that underpitching = stressed yeast = more byproducts.

I don’t even sort of claim to have everything figured out or I wouldn’t be here asking for advice. But I’ll try anything once. :slight_smile:

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