Brewers have been using wheat as an ingredient in their beers since the beginnings of agriculture. Most of the history that we know today about this great ingredient is tied to Germany and Belgium with references as early as 1500. You might be familiar with the popular Hefeweizen, Witbier, Berliner Weisse and other styles such as Lambic and even Gose.
Across the pond, American Wheat beers are still relatively new. One of the first American Wheat beers of modern times was brewed by Anchor Brewing and known as Anchor Summer® Wheat, it introduced the country to the clean, crisp flavors of a filtered wheat beer.
At this point, you might be wondering what the difference is between a German wheat beer and an American Wheat beer? Well, it does have a few subtle differences compared to its German cousins. Firstly, the yeast should use a cleaner ale (or Lager) yeast as opposed to the punchy banana/clove character found in a classic German Hefeweizen yeast. American hops are used sparingly, and sometimes give a spiciness not found in German varieties. For example, Anchor Summer Wheat is dry-hopped with Golding and Simcoe hops, giving the beer a nice, mild hoppy aroma that compliments its crisp, clean finish.
I am a fan of lively American hops, so this seemed like a match made in heaven for my palate. This is definitely a beer I've been eager to brew! In this article, we look at the recipe for an American Wheat beer as well as the different steps I took along the way to create this great beer.
The Recipe (BIAB)
The recipe below is for the all-grain Brew in a Bag method, but it can be scaled to suit your needs depending on your setup.
Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Time: 60 mins
|Pilsner Malt||3 Kg|
|Pale Wheat Malt||2 Kg|
|CO2 Hop Extract||4 ml||60 mins||Boil||CO2 Hop Extract|
|Amarillo||20 g||40 mins||Boil||Whole Leaf|
|Cascade||20 g||40 mins||Boil||Whole Leaf|
|Simcoe||20 g||2 days before||Dry Hop||Leaf|
|Munich||Lallemand Danstar||22 Celsius|
Let's get brewing
The night before I was due to brew, I measured out my water and filtered it to remove any chlorine, chloramine and other impurities. I'm not that precious with my water, but I do like to remove chlorine at the least. I use a Brita water filter - it does take a while, but it's definitely worth it!
Once my water was up to strike temperature, I measured out the grains and added it to my brew bag.
I also really wanted this beer to have a clean bitterness to this beer. Lately I’ve been experimenting with CO2 hop extract to achieve bitterness in my beers and have been surprised with the results.
If you’ve not heard of CO2 extract before, it is produced from soft hop pellets by supercritical CO2 extraction. If you'd like to learn more about CO2 Hop extract, I've previously written about it on this blog.
Next up was the hop additions. Once my boil had been going for around 45 mins, I added all of my hops. I went with some of the more fruity, piney hops such as Cascade and Amarillo. To be honest, I wasn't particularly picky - it was also handy that I had these already stored in my freezer!
After the 60 minutes of boil time was complete, I cooled the wort to around 24 degrees and pitched the yeast. To keep things nice and simple, I went with a dry yeast called Munich from Lallemand.
According to the manufacturers description, this yeast produces only esters and phenol that create a cleaner, more neutral taste. You could use this yeast to brew an American Wheat as well as a Belgian White, Berliner weiss or Hefeweizen. I opted not to make a yeast starter and simply pitched the entire contents of the pack directly into my fermenter.
Before racking to my fermenting bucket, I wanted to take a reading of the original gravity (OG). I came in at just over 1.040.
The waiting game
With the airlock bubbling away, I patiently waited for my brew to be ready. During fermentation, I wasn't aiming for anything super hoppy - but was hoping to impart some fruity, piney aroma that hit the glass when it was first poured. With this in mind, I added my Simcoe dry hops only two days before I was going to transfer it to the keg. I had some whole leaf Simcoe hops lying around in the freezer, so I unscrewed the lid of the dry hopper and added about 50 grams (2 ounces) of hops.
If you'd like to learn more about the dry hopper in the image above, I've previously blogged about it.
The final product
All in all, this is a good beer. It's definitely got that German wheat smell and flavour in there thanks to the Munich yeast. On top of that, I am happy with the piney, spicey bitterness that the Simcoe hops impart towards the end of the sip. This is a perfect beer for summer drinking!
In terms of improvements, next time I need to slightly change my carbonation levels - if anything this beer was a little under carbonated and something that I can improve on next time. I've been experimenting with a new King Keg and this definitely had something to do with it.
Pairing with food
If you are into pairing your beer with food, then this beer is a definite winner. Due to the yeast strain, this beer has a subtle banana and clove notes that will pair well with most light foods. Salads, sushi, vegatable dishes or creamy (not too hot) curries are all good companions for this beer.
Pairing this beer with seafood is also a winner. Prawns, scallops, lobster and any white fish will compliment an American Wheat beer well too.
If you like your breakfast / brunch with beer, then apparently the Bavarians have something to teach you:
"Believe it or not, American Wheat Beer makes a great partner for brunch. In Bavaria, a typical mid-morning meal of ‘brotzeit’ (or ‘bread time’) consists of weissbier and weisswurst, the latter being a pale sausage" - Source: BBC Good Food.
What about desserts? This beer is a bit light for anything that is too citrussy or sweet. Try and aim for something like a white cheese board (Mozarella, Chevre, etc. ) or a fruit salad with vanilla ice cream. Ultimately, you want to aim for something that doesn't overwhelm the beer but provides a creamy backbone for your beer.
I hope you enjoy!