Key points for key pints
• Beechwood, not mesquite. When it’s time to bust out the smoker for the season, I am a hickory-and-oak snob; not a huge mesquite fan. Similarly, I prefer the gentler, more traditional beechwood-smoked malt from Weyermann for rauchweizen. If you prefer to sub apple, cherry, oak, or mesquite-smoked malt, go for it, but it will change the character of the beer.
• Clove, not banana. Again, a matter of personal preference, but I find the spicy byproducts of weissbier yeast work better with the smoked malt than the fruity byproducts. That means we’ll try to foster the creation of clove over banana through a high pitch rate and cooler fermentation temperature. If so inclined, adding a ferulic acid rest at 111°F to your mash schedule wouldn’t be a bad idea.
• Blowoff tubes are definitely your friend. Weissbier yeast strains typically form a prolific krausen—a five-gallon batch can easily escape a six-gallon primary, so to avoid heartbreak and mess, plan on either using a large-diameter blowoff tube or an oversized fermenting vessel from the start.
To the homebrewery
Note: these steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process. Refer to the instructions for your brew system, and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.
1. Make a yeast starter: 2 liters of water, 8 ounces DME, a pinch of yeast nutrient; boil, cool, and inoculate with yeast.
2. On brew day, collect strike water (I use 1.3 quarts per pound, YMMV) and heat to approximately 165°F.
3. Mill the grains, or have it done for you at the shop.
Mash & Sparge
1. Add all grains to strike water and mix to achieve a uniform temperature of 151–153°F. Rest the mash at this temperature for 60–90 minutes.
While the mash rests, collect and heat sparge water.
2. When the mash rest is complete, heat it to 170°F for mashout.
3. Sparge and collect the wort in the boil kettle.
1. Bring the wort to a boil and add 0.5 ounces Tradition hops when the wort begins to boil, and boil for 60 minutes.
2. Cool it!
Fermentation and beyond
1. Transfer the cooled wort to a sanitized fermenter, aerate well, and pitch yeast.
2. Aim for a fermentation temperature of 64–66°F to promote clove over banana character in the finished beer.
3. When fermentation is complete, rack to a secondary (if desired) for a brief settling period, otherwise proceed to packaging.
4. Like other members of the weissbier family, our rauchweizen drinks best fresh and will be ready for enjoyment as soon as it’s carbonated.
Until next time: Drink it like you brewed it.
Like this recipe? You can find it and 63 other witty and detailed homebrew recipes in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” In each recipe, Dawson includes suggestions on how to modify and customize each beer, along with all-new essays on Malt, Hops, Yeast, and Water, giving readers critical insight into the building blocks of every successful brew. On sale now for $24.95 at mashmakerbook.com.
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