Far East Wheat Tasting Notes

July 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Far East WheatFar East Wheat Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours a hazy deep yellow almost gold.  Minimal to no head when poured from the bottle.  Off the keg a nice fluffly white head was present.

Smell: Tangerine, Watermelon, Yuzu.  Citrus aromas meld seamlessly with sweet sugar notes, like smelling into a candy jar.

Taste: Starts with a subtle tartness that is quickly overcome by a blend of sweet malt and citrus.  Notes of tangerine, orange, and yuzu dance along on the tongue.  Finishes with notes of lemon and flowers.  The schezuan pepper, while subdued, leaves a very delicate aftertaste on the palette that adds another layer to a surprisingly complex beer.

Mouthfeel: Moderately carbonated, a bright beer, highly refreshing.  The Yuzu contributed a noticeable tartness to the beer which is balanced nicely by the sweetness of the crystal malt.

Drinkability & Notes: I am extremely happy with how this beer came out.  There is always the risk when brewing a beer with unusual ingredients of brewing a clunker, however this is far from that.  The wheat base with the touch of crystal provided a great base for the Yuzu to showcase its unique citrus flavors, while the Schezuan pepper foils the flavors on the back end.

I can taste the Yuzu, however if you didn’t know it was in the beer it could easily be mistaken for orange, tangerine or some other citrus aroma from a peel or hop addition.  If the Yuzu wasn’t so expensive I would consider upping the amount, (with one Oz of Yuzu 8 gallons would be my initial thoughts for an increased Yuzu punch)however part of me really enjoys the subtleness of this beer.

All the moving parts work well together in subtle and complementary, yet complex ways leaving me yearning for another sip.  When I brew this again one change I would make to the initial recipe, would be to increase the amount of Schezuan pepper by another gram or two as I feel it could be just a bit more pronounced.

If you are looking for a truly unique beer to impress your friends I would highly recommend this beer to you. I can see it becoming one of my new favorites and a summer seasonal at Lionheart for years to come.


Far East Wheat

July 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

The beauty of homebrewing is that you get to brew what you want, when you want, including beers that either do not exist or are not readily available for purchase.  Experimentation with unique ingredients has been embedded into the culture of most homebrewers from the onset.  Often times inspiration for a new beer comes when we least expect it, while driving, cooking dinner, or in my case reading a cooking magazine at my fiances parents house.

While on a recent visit I was flipping though the pages of Saveur and a small caption for a traditional Japanese marinade caught my eye.  It was a mixture of several ingredients including Yuzu, an East Asian citrus fruit and hot peppers.  I immediately began Googling Yuzu as I thought it would be perfect ingredient for my next homebrew experiment.

Upon some further research I was convinced that Yuzu would be a worthy addition to a wheat style ale.  It is described as being a cross between a sour mandarin and an Ichang papeda.  The flavor is described as tart, closely resembling that of a grapefruit.  (I tried a small sample and it definitely was tart, I also noted tangerine flavors) After searching all over the internet I was finally able to find some Yuzu peel that I thought would be suitable for the brew.  Few vendors offered the peel itself, most sold a powdered form of Yuzu, I wanted to make sure I got the peel as that is were the aromatic flavors lie.  I wound up purchasing 1 oz of Yuzu off of Amazon directly from Japan.

Before I stumbled upon the article I had been kicking around the idea of an Asian Saison that would include a mix of spices, including Sichuan Pepper.  Sichuan Pepper is not spicy like traditional black pepper, instead it offers more of a lemon flavor.  I decided to combine the Sichuan would complement the Yuzu in both flavor and concept, Far East Wheat was born.

I decided on a wheat beer for the base as they traditionally pair well with citrus, which in this case I wanted to be the star.  I kept the grist fairly basic with a roughly 2:1 ratio of 2-Row to Wheat, I also added a touch of CaraPils and Crystal 15 for some sweetness to offset the perceived tartness of the Yuzu.  I used Magnum and its clean bitterness at 60 and a mix of Amarillo and Citra throughout the finish for their well documented citrus flavors.  I selected SafeAle US-05 for its clean fermentation as I wanted to let the Yuzu, Sichuan, and hops  highlight the beer.

I am hopeful that the unique citrus flavors of the Yuzu and Sichuan will meld with the citrus flavors of the Amarillo and Citra on top of a balanced wheat beer base.  Im really looking forward to this one, as it has been a while since I stepped out of the box and brewed a truly unique beer.

Far East Wheat

Batch Size: 11 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.046
Est. Final Gravity: 1.012
ABV: 4.5%
IBU: 24.4
Color: 3.7 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

64.9% American 2-Row
27% White Wheat Malt
5.4% Carapils Malt
2.7% Crystal 15

.5 Oz Magnum (14.1% AA) at 60 min
.25 Oz Amarillo (9.8% AA) at 20 min
.25 Oz Citra (10% AA) at 20 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
.5 Oz Amarillo (9.8% AA) at 10 min
.5 Oz Citra (10% AA) at 10 min
1 oz Yuzu Peel at 5 min
12 Grams Sichuan Pepper at 5 min
.75 Oz Amarillo (9.8% AA) at 0 min
.75 Oz Citra (10% AA) at 0 min

2 Packets US-05 Safeale Yeast


60 minutes at 152 F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 165 F (Mash Out)

photo (8)

German Hefeweizen Tasting Notes

May 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm

German Hefeweizen (PP) #5

German Hefeweizen (Proper Pitch) Tasting Notes:

Appearance:  Pours a slightly hazy straw yellow.  One finger, pillowy, snow white head lingers long after the initial pour.

Smell:  Mild notes of wheat, clove, banana and citrus are present.

Taste: Grainy, wheat flavors dominate the initial sip, juxtaposed nicely by the sweetness of the Pilsner malt. Slight hints of herb and citrus on the finish.  Finishes with a strong residual banana burst and a ever so slight hint of clove.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation crisp and strong.  Finished slightly drier than I would have liked and is evident. The graininess from the large percentage of wheat malt helps offset this somewhat.

Drinkability & Notes:   The proper pitched batch of my German Hefeweizen yeast yielded a somewhat strong banana flavor, however it left me wanting more of a banana punch that defines the classic versions of the style.  Overall the beer is highly drinkable and true to the style.  I’m not sure why it attenuated down to 1.006 but it does come across in the final beer.  I will be looking to fix this when I brew it again for my wedding as I would like a slightly thicker mouthfeel.  I am also considering swapping Munich Malt for the Vienna to bulk up the color a bit as this finished somewhat paler than I would have liked.  With that being said for a total cost of roughly $40 dollars for 12 gallons this recipe has yielded a highly drinkable, refreshing beer.



German Hefeweizen Yeast Experiment

April 14, 2013 at 9:51 am

My fiance and I will be getting married this October at the German Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  I will be brewing all the beer for our wedding, so needless to some of my brewing this year is going to focus on fine tuning the beers for our big day.  The plan is to brew four 10 gallon batches of moderate alcohol beers and serve a 2.5 gal keg of either the Cognac or Bourbon Lets Grow Old Together Ale, depending on which tastes better, throughout the evening.  While neither my fiance nor I are particularly German, we have fully embraced the venue and are planning an Oktoberfest themed wedding with Brats, Spatzel, and of course a good ol’ German style Hefeweizen.

The recipe is fairly straight forward for a German Hefeweizen with a 3:2 wheat to barley grist ratio.  I added a small amount of Vienna Malt for color and some added complexity to the overall mouthfeel.  I selected traditional German hops in Hallertauer Mittelfrueh for its mild bitterness and herbal flavor contributions.  A great Hefeweizen is made by the yeast and the mash schedule as they contribute to the production of the classic banana and clove flavors.  I wound up using WLP351 Bavarian Weizen described as imparting “moderately high, spicy, phenolic overtones reminiscent of cloves.”  and a traditional Hefeweizen step mash schedule of 111, 126, 151, and 168 degrees.

The Experiment

My original thought was to experiment with several different Hefe yeast strains, however I had to change my plans when a trip to my LHBS turned up only one Hefe strain.  After a bit of research I discovered that the yeast pitch rate can directly influence ester production that gives the classic clove/banana flavors of a hefeweizen.  Although this is somewhat of a contested thought (many people believe the risks of under-pitching outweigh any potential rewards) I decided to give it a try.  Generally speaking there are three ways to create a more banana flavored hefeweizen.  The first is yeast strain selection, the second is temperature, and the third is pitch rates.  The hotter a hefeweizen ferments (66-68 Deg plus) the more banana flavors will be produced, similarly if the yeast is under-pitched and thus stressed during the ramp up phase of fermentation it will also produce these flavors.

Since I ferment my beers in a fairly stable cool basement (ambient temperature 62 Deg.) and WLP351 is described as producing clove forward hefeweizens one would assume with a proper pitch of yeast I would finish with a clove forward hefeweizen with little to no banana flavors.  Since I wanted to brew two unique beers from one batch I decided to pitch one carboy with the proper yeast rates and the second with 40% less yeast in an effort to create a more banana forward less clove flavored beer.  However, like many things in life, the best laid plans often go awry.  After spending a week diligently growing the proper amount of yeast required for my experiment I wound up with a much more efficient mash than usual (79% vs the usual 72%) and in turn a much stronger OG than I had planed for.  After some debate I decided to add sanitized water to my final volume so that I would still be at my planned OG of 1.048, albeit with 12 gallons instead of 11.

While usually I would be thrilled with a more efficient brew-day, my carefully planned yeast pitch experiment went by the wayside.  Since I didn’t have time to grow additional yeast I wound up under-pitching both 6 gallon batches.  The first carboy was under-pitched by 25% and the second carboy was under-pitched by 55%.  While the increased efficiency caused my experiment to lose its control I’m still looking forward to the results.  By some accounts under-pitching 25% will have little to no overall impact on the final flavor profile of the beer so I am still hopeful I will finish with two distinct hefeweizens, one clove forward and one banana forward.  Check back for the results in a few weeks.

German Hefeweizen

Batch Size: 12 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.048
Est. Final Gravity: 1.010
ABV: 5.0%
IBU: 12.6
Color: 4.7 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

66.7% Wheat Malt
27.3% Belgian Pilsner
6.1% Vienna Malt
1 lb Rice Hulls

1 Oz Hallertaur Mittelfrueh (4% AA) at 45 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
1.25 Oz Hallertaur Mittelfrueh (4% AA) at 20 min

4.11 L Starter of White Labs 351 Bavarian Weizen Yeast

Step Mash:
15 minutes at 111.2 F (Feurilic Acid Rest)
10 minutes at 126 F (Protein Rest)
45 minutes at 150.8 F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 168 F (Mash Out)

Carboy #1 25% Under Pitch: 2.75 L
Carboy #2 55% Under Pitch: 1.135 L

Ferment at ambient air temperature of 62 F

Update: So after sampling both batches I could not tell a significant difference between the two different pitched batches.  With that being said I did feel that the underpitched batch tasted a bit thinner and had some extremely slight off flavors (potentially from extreme yeast stress, but i’m not sure), there is also a chance this is just my mind trying to rationalize that they should taste different.  

I have come to conclude that while underpitching hefeweizen yeast maybe able to directly effect the clove/banana ratio in the final beer there is a temperature or temperature range that if fermented below, no matter what amount of yeast pitched will directly limit the banana flavor profile of a hefeweizen.  I’m assuming that the ambient air in my basement (65 deg) must be below this threshold as I was unable to successfully alter the two beer flavor profiles in a significant way.  In the end the risks outweigh the reward in my opinion, and the best bet would be to pitch the proper amount of yeast and work on altering the fermentation temperatures to achieve the desired banana/clove ratios.


West Coast Wheat

March 17, 2013 at 7:42 pm

India Pale Ale is one style that has experienced a renaissance among American Craft brewers, with the momentum clearly excelerating as the number of variations continues to grow. The transformation of the traditional IPA began with the birth of the double IPA,  as in true American fashion, brewers began pushing the limits by brewing stronger, hoppier, and bolder IPA’s. Recently new IPA variations have emerged including the Black IPA, Belgian IPA, and Rye IPA as brewers strive to meet the American consumers love affair with the almighty hop.

One lesser known IPA variation, the Wheat IPA, happens to be one of my favorites even though few commercial examples exist, the most popular probably being Anaheuser-Busch’s Shock Top. My preference for wheat IPA’s stems from the wheat’s contribution to the malt profile of the beer and in my opinion, the superior balance that it provides with the traditional citrus hop IPA flavors. The West Coast recipe below is the third iteration, one that I feel strikes the best balance of the three, while still allowing for a delicious interplay of wheat and citrus flavors.

I am satisfied the grain bill has achieved a balance of wheat and sweetness that can stand up against the 60 IBU contributed from the hops, however I am planning on modifying the hop bill this year.  While I love Falconers Flight, the fact that it is a proprietary blend of several hop varieties of unknown proportions has led me to reconsider its use in the recipe.  Moving forward I plan to eliminate it completely from the hop bill and experiment with different ratios of Simcoe, Amarillo, and Belma hops in order to allow for better duplicity moving forward.  Don’t get me wrong the recipe is great as it currently stands, so good in fact that if I was every able to open a brewery of my own this would be one of my flagship beers.  This makes the use of Falconers Flight potentially problematic, thus my reasoning for seeking out the alternative hop combinations.

West Coast Wheat

Batch Size: 11.5 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.057
Final Gravity: 1.014
ABV: 5.7%
IBU: 59.1
Color: 6.2 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

52.2% American 2-Row
32.6% Wheat Malt
9.8% Munich Malt
2.2% Crystal 15

1.25 Oz Magnum(14% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
1.4 Oz Falconers Flight (10.5% AA) at 15 min
.75 Oz Summit (17% AA) at 15 min
1 Oz Citra (13.4% AA) at 5 min
2.6 Oz Falconers Flight (10.5% AA) at 1 min
2 Oz Citra (13.4% AA) at 1 min
1 Oz Summit (17% AA) at 0 min
4 Oz Falconers Flight (10.5% AA) Dry Hop (7 Days)

2 Packs Safale American Ale US-05 Dry Yeast

Mash at 15 for 60 minutes raise to 168 for a 10 minute mashout.

For detailed tasting notes of this West Coast Wheat recipe, click here.

Midnight Wit

February 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

As the doldrums of winter press on in the Northeast and I start to dream of the days when it will be warm enough to brew again, I thought I would crack into my recipe vault in search of some spring time seasonals for those of you lucky enough to either brew inside or live somewhere nice and warm.  Over the past two years or so dark versions of the popular beer styles have gained increased popularity especially the Black or Cascadian IPA and more recently the Black Lager.  Midnight Wit is my take on this concept, with the key to the recipe being the use of Weyermann’s Dehusked Carafa II during the last 10 minutes of the mash to get you the dark black color without any roasty astringent flavors.  Such flavors would clash with the fresh citrus and Belgian yeast aromatics that come to define the style.

As my memory serves this beer was extremely enjoyable and very close in flavor profile to a Hoegaarden minus the color of course.  It was while drinking this beer that I for the first time realized the effect color can have on perceived notion of taste and mouthfeel.  The light bodied wit beer appeared to taste heavy on the first sip, only after taking a few additional sips did I realize that it was in fact light and dry, and that the dark color had left my mind expecting a heavier fuller beer.  Nonetheless for those of you lucky enough to be brewing in preparation for spring I would encourage you to consider this recipe for a unique twist on a classic seasonal favorite.

Midnight Wit

Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.011
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: 16.1
Color: 19.3 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

30.6% American 2-Row
30.6% Belgian Pilsner
28.5% Wheat Malt
5.1% Carafa II (Added during the last 10 minutes of mash)
2.6% Flaked Oats
2.6% Flaked Wheat

2 Oz Hallertaur Mittelfrueh (4% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
2 Oz Styrian Goldings (2.6% AA) at 5 min
.75 Oz Orange Peel, Bitter at 5 min
2 Oz Coriander Seed at 5 min

3 L Starter of Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier

Mash at 150 for 60 minutes raise to 168 for a 10 minute mashout.

Midnight Wit

West Coast Wheat Tasting Notes

May 15, 2012 at 12:53 am
Appearance: Deep orange with golden highlights when held to the light. Thick long lasting white head leaving an abundance of lacing.

Smell:Big citrus hop aroma, grapefruit and orange dominate, slight malt sweetness

Taste: Assertive hop bitterness on the front end finishing somewhat sweet with citrus.

Mouthfeel: Moderately carbonated with a nice balance of bitterness and maltiness.

Drinkability & Notes: This beer finishes clean, crisp, and is very refreshing. I changed some of the hop additions and was able to get that big citrus flavor, a little sweeter than previous versions.

Orange Honey Wheat Ale

May 12, 2012 at 1:59 am

Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Estimated Original Gravity: 1.050
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.013
Estimated ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 35.1
Color: 5.6
Boil Time: 60 Min

39.5% (7 lbs 11.5 oz) Pale Malt 2-Row
30.7% (6 lbs) Wheat Malt
21.9% ( 4 lbs 4.5 oz) French Pilsen
5.4% (1lb l oz) Honey Malt
2.6% (.5 lbs) Oats

.25 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 60 min 5.7 IBU
.25 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 30 min 4.6 IBU
.5 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 15 min 5.9 IBU
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 15 min 5.7 IBU
.5 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 10 min 4.3 IBU
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 10 min 4.1 IBU
.5 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 5 min 2.4 IBU
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 5 min 2.3 IBU
1.5 Oz Orange Peel Bitter 5 min
.5 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 0 min 0 IBU
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 0 min 0 IBU

White Labs 090 San Diego Super Yeast Cake

Mash @ 15 Degrees for 60 minutes mashout at 165 degrees