Monday, February 24, 2014

Home Brew: Blood Orange Hefeweizen

Nothing is better than a light and refreshing wheat beer during the summer months. This fact of brewing is magnified when you head to the beach or the pool in Florida. Often times, the custom is to throw a piece of citrus into a wheat beer to emphasize the sweet notes in wheat beers. Why not simplify the process, create a popular style of wheat beers, and get ready for the beach.

It’s also important to cite your sources. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Dogfish Head Craft Brewing and the founder, Sam Calagione. They have been advocates for and pioneers in “Extreme Brewing”. This philosophy embraces trying new ingredients in beers, expanding beer styles, and exploring all that beer can offer. The recipe for the Blood Orange Hefeweizen is from his book, “Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home”. For our homebrew below, we modified the recipes by substituting more grains for some of the dried malt extract.

The interesting and “extreme” idea in this beer is to add this unique fruit to the brewing process. Blood oranges are not as sweet as other varieties of oranges could mix well with the hefeweizen style.

Here are the ingredients we used to brew our own Blood Orange Hefeweizen (Thanks, Sam!):

·         3 lbs. Munton wheat malt extract, dried malt extract
·         1 lbs. Munton light malt extract, dried malt extract
·         ½ lbs. Munton extract malt extract, dried malt extract
·         2 lbs. German Wheat malt barley
·         1 ½ lbs. German 2-row malt barley

·         ½ oz. Hallertau hop pellets (bittering hops, added at the start of the 60 minute boil)
·         ½ oz. Saaz hop pellets (flavoring hops, added with 20 minutes left in boil)
·         ½ oz. Hallertau pellets (aroma hops, added with 10 minutes left in boil)  

·         4 Blood oranges
·         Wyeast brand yeast – Bavarian Wheat #3638

·         Original gravity = 1.070
·         Target final gravity = 1.010
·         Target ABV = 5.5%

We chose this yeast for several reasons. This strain produces the customary clove and banana aromas but will also produces very subtle apple, pear, and plum esters. The yeast likes between 64-75 degrees while higher temperatures will increase the esters that they yeast produces. At this time in Florida (spring), the weather is usually in the higher temperature range for this yeast, which is perfect for fermenting this beer.

Start with 2 ½ gallons in the brew pot and heated to 150 degrees. Over the next 90 minutes, we steeped the 3 ½ lbs. of grains in this warmed water. The idea is to allow enzymes in the grains to convert starches into fermentable sugars that yeasts can get at. After the 90 minutes, we removed the grains and added all of the dried malt extract and brought to a boil. Boil the grains, malt extract, and hops by adding the hops at the times above.

During the boil, we had that 60 minutes to prepare the blood oranges for addition to the fermenter. We zested two of the four oranges and cut up all of the fruit. We were careful to remove all of the white rind (will cause extreme bitterness). In a half gallon of water, we created a fruit tea including brining the fruit up to 160 degrees to sterilize it.

We then cooled off the unfermented beer in the brew pot and the blood orange tea to about 75 degrees. You can’t have this fluid too warm because you might kill off your own yeast if you add the yeast to warm water (unintentional pasteurization). We added all of the oranges, orange tea, unfermented beer, and yeast to the fermenter.

Strains of yeast used in wheat beers, such as this hefeweizen, are voracious. By that, we mean that they eat sugars and convert them to alcohol and carbon dioxide at breakneck speed. After five days, we transferred the fermenting beer to a secondary fermenter to pull it away from the spent yeast and fruit in the fermenter. As we post this, the beer is completing its second week of fermenting thanks to the yeast.

The pictures below including the following:
·         All of the ingredients
·         The recipe in Sam’s book
·         Wheat malt and the two varieties of hops
·         Light malt extract
·         The yeast packet (see the “Bavarian Wht” at the top)
·         The grains in a grain bag for easy steeping and removal
·         Steeping the grains in the brew pot
·         Checking for 150 degrees in the brew pot
·         Four blood oranges
·         Blood oranges and the pot for orange preparation
·         Personal notes on the recipe
·         Blood orange fruit
·         The boil
·         The brew pot and the orange tea
·         Unfermented beer and fruit added
·         Unfermented beer and fruit added (second picture)
·         Fermenting and yeast in action

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