In the pursuit of perfect homebrew, failure still makes beer.

Summer Impromtu Brew Days!

Set the scene: a future roommate stores beer ingredients at your house for more than 2 months. One day he calls you asking desperately for a homebrew fix. Like a halfway house, you’ll oblige him this one time as long as it gets him off his homebrew bender. But like a fellow addict, you’ll sit right beside him and help him inject straight liquid homebrew goodness into his veins.

My brew partner, ManofSteele, is this future roommate. We are brewing two different beer recipes the these two nights – a hefewizen and a wiezenbock.

Hefewizen is a fruity, clove-nosed lighter summer style beer hailing from south German and is a classic example of wheat beer. It’s defined as 50:50 wheat:anything else malt. Beers such as Weihenstephaner, Paulner, and Berkshire Hefeweizen are a few recognizable names. It’s an “unfiltered” beer, with the Bavarian Hefeweizen yeast floating suspensfully in the beer naturally (“Hefe” means “with yeast” in German). This property also makes hefewizens a great beer to bottle-condition and then harvest the yeast for another go at homebrewed hefeweizen.

A few hefeweizens you may or may not recognize. But you should get to know them.

Weizenbock is, as defined by Beer Advocate, “A more powerful Dunkel Weizen (of “bock strength”), with a pronounced estery
alcohol character, perhaps some spiciness from this, and bolder and more complex malt characters of dark fruits.” To me, this means a full-bodied, fruit-tinted beer that is a perfect, heavy compliment to a lighter hefeweizen. I also was intrigued earlier this year by one man’s quest to live entirely off of bock beer. I’d like to make a bock beer, but skip the “live off it” part.

My favorite weizenbock, Gutmann. Try it.

While drinking the majority of a Victory Brewing Variety Pack (Golden Monkey, HopDevil, and Prima Pils) we boldly went where no weekend warrior has been – Weekday Night Impromptu Brew Sessions.

It should be mentioned that Wednesday in attendance were several spectators and beer consumers: Dossmaster, Alainebelaine, and J-Money Strutter. Wednesday night, we brew ManofSteele’s hefeweizen creation TBDOANL (to be decided on a name later). Thursday night, we brew WeizGuy Weizenbock.

A little live beer blogging for you:

“ManofSteele’s Hefeweizen” (He doesn’t like to name his beers before he drinks them. It comes to him in a moment of sobriety pre-homebrew consumption)

1.0 lb. Bavarian Wheat
0.7 lb. German Pils
6.0 lb. Bavarian Wheat DME (65% wheat 35% amber)
0.9 oz Saaz hops (60min)

Mash: 30min@130F, 30min@145F , 15min@165F .
Boil: 75min, Sazz addtion @ 60min.

7/6/11 8:40PM– We had the closest-to-boilover experience I’ve ever had at my current place of residence. It was harrowing. It was nervewracking. I bit off all my nails. But we survived without spilling a drop!

7/6/11 10:05PM – At around 15 minutes, we had a second boiling. I added 2L of cold water to the boil to calm the boil and make sure the color was sustained. We’ll see what it looks like when I pitch the yeast tomorrow morning early.

7/7/11 6:45AM – I’ve reconstituted the dry Munich yeast from ManofSteele’s ingredients bag. 1 cup of warm ~105F water, stirred and let to come to room temp. The fermentor, which was in the keg fridge to facilitate overnight cooling, was removed and recorded at a temperature of 72F for pitching. We didn’t separate the hot-break out of the wort before pouring it in the fermentor, which all settled at the bottom anyways. I’m not sure how to separate it using my current system… any suggestions? The color is also a little brown, which I think is attributed to ManofSteele’s insistence on a 90-minute boil. We didn’t really know what we were doing! 45-min boil would be better next time.

12:55PM 7/7/11– Doing a little research while running a few work things. Using my BrewPal app on the iPhone (All iPhone-holding  homebrewers should GET THIS APP.) I found that hefeweizens should have a 5gal keg pressure of 25-35 psi for proper carbonation. I put my Hefelumps and Whoopsles at 12psi, and I thought I was pushing it. Oh well, we’ll do it right this time!

“Momobono’s WeizGuy Weizenbock”

1.0 lb. 40L Crystal
0.25 lb. Chocolate
0.25 lb. CaraAmber
6.6 lb. Bavarian Wheat DME (65% wheat 35% amber)
2.0 oz Spalt hops (60min)
1.0 oz Mt. Hood hops (5min)
1.0 oz Mt. Hood hops (2min)

Mash: 30min@160F .
Boil: 60min, Spalt addtion @ 60min, Mt. Hood additions @ 5, 2min.

6:00PM 7/7/11 – Meeting for brew day 2 of 2, I don’t see much action on the hefeweizen. Might have pitched too low of a cell count with only 1 packet of dry yeast – BrewPal is telling me we needed 2. We soldier on anyhow, with some ACME California IPAs and leftover UFOs from yesterday. Today’s recipe will be a lot less time-intensive, so hopefully we’ll be outta here more quickly than yesterday. I pitched the yeast into my starter and plopped it on the stir plate.

8:30PM 7/7/11 – HOLY CRAP we almost boiled over again. It wasn’t so much the liquid boilover as much the foam resulting from trapped steam in such a high-sugar wort. We were able to tame it down with some skillful wort spoon action, literally “crafting” the wort back down into its rightful place – the pot – and not onto my stove top. I have no money in my budget for industrial Brillo pads. Maybe need to invest in a larger, more homebrew-designed pot rather than a 20qt. lobster pot. 20qt. capacity doesn’t leave much room for error during a 12qt. boil.

Get back in your pot, Weiz Guy!

9:30PM 7/7/11– Finished the boil – looks nice and dark. We strained the hop particles out of the wort while pouring into the fermentor, adding 2L of cold water in between wort pours until we reached 5 gallons. This seems like a much better way to transfer and cool rather than put it all into the carboy at once. I mopped my floor because it was sticky and smelled like a brewery.

Full fermentor and ready for con-beer-sion into alcohol.

6:30AM 7/8/11 – Crash cooled my yeast starter, to settle all the cells out of solution. The “hefebrownweizen” has some serious yeast action on it – 24h post pitching, which is ok by me.

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