Several weeks back, I brewed up a German Wheat beer. Well done wheats are one of my favorite sipping beers, and I felt this style would be perfect for summertime.
Because I brew 10 gallons (a lot of one style of beer), I decided to split the batch by making two different beers off of one base. Down the road, this will provide many options in terms of extra ingredients, varying dry hops, or even yeast options. For this batch and for the next few I have planned out, I am going to keep one carboy true to the Reinheitsgebot, the German purity law, while the other I will "Americanize" by adding extra something to it.
For the German Wheat, I kept one strict to the Reinheitsgebot with only water, grain, hops, and yeast. The other, which I cleverly named German Wheat X, I dry hopped with one ounce each of orange and lemon zest as well as about 2/3s an ounce of Hallertau hops.
As far as process, I simply used a single infusion mash at 152F. There is always conversation about decoction mashing when it comes to German Wheat beers, but, through reading up on it and weighing my options, I decided it wasn't worth trying at this point in time. Down the road, I would love to try a decoction mash to taste any difference. For now, I went straight simple.
It was a standard wheat recipe (50% red wheat, 50% pilsner malt), with some Hallertau hops at 60 minutes. I used WLP300 for both batches, grown up in a starter. Fermentation was at 62F for 14 days. In the German Wheat X, I added the zest and hops after 6 days of fermentation.
Review - German Wheat
Aroma - Very pleasant aroma. More clove than banana, which I like. There is a bit of a sweet spice to the nose.
Appearance - Beautiful color. It is a deep orange, surely from the red wheat. Head is bright white, but doesn't last as long as I would like. Minimal lacing on the glass. Slightly hazy, as an unfiltered wheat should be.
Taste - Very pleasant flavor. No off-flavors detected. An ever-so-slight sharpness on the tip of the tongue, but it is not unpleasant. Could have a touch more bitterness. Most of the flavor fills the roof of the mouth and tip of the tongue. The bitterness would help balance that out. Very passable as a wheat; it is a beer I would proudly serve anyone.
Mouthfeel - Full body, full flavor. Carbonation is a little lacking (time to bump up the CO2 on the kegerator).
Overall Impression - I am quite pleased with how this turned out. Even though I am not comparing it side by side to any commercial beer, I would pick this one over many commercial wheat beers I've had recently. (It seems they are all trying to get "cute" these days.)
Review - German Wheat X
Aroma - Lemon. Citrus. It slaps you in the face. It is strong - almost cleaning supply strong. Too much.
Appearance - Looks the same as above. Slightly less hazy, but not out of style.
Taste - Lots of lemon. There is definitely too much citrus zest in this beer. It overpowers any other flavor the beer has. It still has that "wheat" taste (mostly from the yeast), but I'm a bit disappointed.
Mouthfeel - Carbonation on this one is lacking, too. Again, lemon dominates all aspects of this beer.
Overall Impression - Unfortunately, I added too much zest. I thought I would be in the "safe" range with 1 ounce of fresh lemon zest, but I guess not. Maybe next time I'll try just orange zest or half the total amount. I got zero dry hop aroma. This beer is ok and I would give some to my friends, but I would have a conversation about it first.
Well, there you go. If you have any questions about my process or the German Wheat I brewed, just drop a comment below. Overall, I am happy with the brew. For my first brew in SC, not too shabby.