Thursday, 18 September 2014

Making a 100% Wheat Beer - Ernst Schneider Weiss

Feeling nauseated by the official commemorations of the start of the First World War, my thoughts returned to an idea for a beer I'd had that I could name after one of the people that ended it. I'd got hold of some spelt wheat malt, an old husked variety, and I was curious if it could be used as 100% of the grist. Normal 'wheat beers' actually contain a proportion of barley malt as too much huskless wheat causes grain beds to become too compact and give poor wort run off.

I first got an inkling my plan might be flawed when I look at the spelt grains. They look suspiciously similar to normal wheat:


Bread Wheat

But I'm not the sort of person to be put off doing something simply because it looks doomed to failure from the start. So I got the mash started, having first looked up top tips on temperatures in Brewing with Wheat. I decided to include a ferulic acid rest so mashed in at a much colder temperature than normal.

It started going wrong from the start and the grains sank like stones. My calculations were rubbish too and the temperature was way out. As I needed cold liquor to make adjustments, and after the rest add more hot liquor to bring the temperature up, I ended up with a very thin mash. It also looked decidedly odd. Is that proteinaceous material floating on top?

Odd looking mash
The run off was rubbish too, and took ages. When I dug out the mash tun I could see a load of grains at the bottom, all stuck together. They tasted sweet too so the sparing was not only slow but inefficient also.

Sticky sweet grains

This of course lead to me getting less volume of wort than I'd planned. The fermentation went well though.

Vigorous fermentation
Until it conked out early, leaving a high final gravity. I cranked up the priming sugar when bottling to get the carbonation up, though the head retention is surprisingly poor. The taste is good, if perhaps too full bodied, I'd say it's probably the best wheat beer I've ever made.

Ernst Schneider Weiss
Though admittedly it doesn't have much competition and I won't be making it again.

Here end a chapter, but a chapter only, of the history of my brewing with wheat. 

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