The German wheat beer history is an interesting one. We all know of the German purity law of 1516 called the Reinheitsgebot, where only water, barley and hops could be used to brew beer with. As a result, wheat beer wasn’t being produced commercially, and if it was, it was only in house for the duke’s consumption. This lasted until the mid 1800’s when a weissebier brewer (Georg Schneider) was commissioned to brew the wheat beer. He brewed first at the Weisse Hofbräuhaus, and later at Tal near the city’s main square. He then expanded into a second brewery in Kelheim in 1872, in the midst of the Hallertau hop growing area, as a private brewery. Weissebier was no longer under the royal thumb: it had gone mainstream.
During the clamp down on wheat beer production, the lager became (obviously) the popular beer, and was perfected as the brewers couldn’t brew anything else. Since the late 1800s however, the wheat beer has an equal brewing prowess as the lager. Done right, it can have subtle ester characters and a good malty balance. Done wrong, and we get the huge banana bombs we find in America. I have yet to go to Germany, but I hear their weissebier served on draft is different/a lot better than what we get or are brewing here.
That brings us to the dunkelweizen (literally means dark wheat). The beer should be at least 50% wheat, and have some dark malts such as Munich and perhaps some de-bittered malt for enhanced color. The wheat itself lends a grainy, fresh bread character when combined with the yeast impression. The finish should be dryish, and along with the protein-rich wheat, be medium-bodied. I chose the WLP380 Hefeweizen IV Ale Yeast because according to White Labs it’s “large clove and phenolic aroma and flavor, with minimal banana”. I also fermented this low in the mid-60sF to help further lessen the esters.
I did take half of this and put some WLP648 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois Vrai in it. Ferulic acid (which can be found in wheat and barley) can enhance Brett flavors later on. Wheat actually has less ferulic acid than barley, but adds more when used. So now seems like a good time to see what the WLP648 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois Vrai is truly made of. I have only used it once for a quick hoppy sour, but never in a primary (albeit along with the WLP380 Hefeweizen IV Ale).
Let’s do this.
Video of the brew day:
Batch Size: 1.5 Gallons
Est ABV: 5.5%-ish
2.75 lbs (58.8%) – German Wheat
1.0 lb (21.4%) – Munich Malt (10L)
8.0 oz (10.7%) – Caramunich Malt (60L)
5.0 oz (6.6%) – Acid Malt
2.0 oz (2.6%) – Carafa III
154F @ 70 Minutes
.20 oz (11 IBUs) Hallertauer (5.1% AA) @ 60 Minutes
WLP380 Hefeweizen IV Ale Yeast
WLP648 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois Vrai
5/14/17: Activity. I like seeing that the next day.
5/22/17: Activity seems about done.
6/4/17: Gravity at 1.012 for both.
6/10/17: Bottled the non-Brett one. Pellicle has formed on the Brett one.
7/2/17: Gravity at 1.008. Gonna let this go a little longer as the gravity is dropping.
7/22/17: Bottled the one with Brett.
8/9/7 Tasting notes: