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General Category => Beer Recipes => Topic started by: gmac on July 06, 2011, 12:30:27 AM

Title: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 06, 2011, 12:30:27 AM
A good friend asked me to brew him a wit similar to Blanche de Chambly, a Quebec beer that I'm sure most of you have not had before.  Since its probably not that familiar to most of you, I know it will be hard to answer some of my questions but I'd appreciate some starting comments.

I know I won't hit it 100% the first time but I have a few questions.  I'm going to use bitter orange and coriander for this and I don't want to over do it so some guidance there would be appreciated.  How much is a good starting point for each (I know I can probably find recipes with this but what does the group think)?  Further though, one of the comments that come up on-line when you see reviews of this beer is that it has a lemony character.  Not sure if this is coming from the yeast that they use or from the use of lemon.  I was thinking of using lemon grass and I asked in another post about how much but it's sort of buried in there.  So, any thoughts on a good starting point if using lemon grass and how to use it?  Lastly, I've read that chamomile flowers are also nice and I've ordered some.  How much is a good start?  I want to make a nicely layered assortment of flavours without being overly busy but am I reaching too far on this first attempt?

I also don't have any flaked wheat although I do have flaked oats and malted wheat.  Can I live without the flaked wheat?  Is there anything else that I could sub in? 

Sorry for asking so many recipe questions lately but I've got a few yeast strains headed my way so my mind is working on about 3 different recipes at once.  I'm even getting them confused in my mind (sometimes I can remember if I'm thinking about a kolsch or a saison or a stout or an APA or what?)
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on July 06, 2011, 12:51:33 AM
I made a bunch of them trying to perfect the recipe. You may find that recipe good as a starting point:
www.ipass.net/mpdixon see Wit or Witout

Edit: Link was loading slow, here is a different link:
http://carboyclub.com/recipes/wit3.htm
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: denny on July 06, 2011, 03:47:07 PM
BIG thumbs up to Mike's wit recipe!  It's the only one I use.  Whenever I recommend it to other people they're always happy with the results. 
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 06, 2011, 04:28:43 PM
OK, help me understand.  I boil the wheat first and then I drop the temp back to 104 etc?  I assume somewhere along the lines I add in some pale malt for enzymes.  This is going to be awfully hard to do with a cooler style mash tun as far as I can tell and hit all the temps properly.  I know it could be done but I'm concerned.  Also, I don't have raw wheat.  What about malted wheat instead? 5lbs pale malt and 5 lbs wheat malt?  Can this be converted to an infusion mash?  How much water to grain?  I have rice hulls on order for this so I'm going to add them.
I'll give it a go but I need to figure out the subtleties of hitting the temps with the equipment I have.  Worst case I guess I could mash in my boil kettle, transfer it all to the cooler, lauter and then back to the kettle. 
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 04:33:25 PM
I don't have raw wheat.  What about malted wheat instead? 5lbs pale malt and 5 lbs wheat malt?
You could make the substitution, but it's a pretty big change for a wit.  If you do it, then switching to an infusion mash is no big deal.  With raw wheat though, gelatinize it first.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 06, 2011, 05:03:55 PM
I found a Morebeer string where Denny, Keith and Mike discussed this and I'm still not sure if they decided wheat would gelatinize at mash temps or not.  Don't care, I'll cook it but can someone explain that boiling then mashing procedure and where and when I'd add the 2-row?
I'll try to find regular wheat.  Harvest will start here in a few weeks so I'll grab 20 lbs and put it in the freezer for future but right now I'm not sure where to find it.
Thanks
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: kramerog on July 06, 2011, 05:32:32 PM
freshly ground coriander has a lot of lemon flavor.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 05:38:56 PM
I found a Morebeer string where Denny, Keith and Mike discussed this and I'm still not sure if they decided wheat would gelatinize at mash temps or not.  Don't care, I'll cook it but can someone explain that boiling then mashing procedure and where and when I'd add the 2-row?
I'll try to find regular wheat.  Harvest will start here in a few weeks so I'll grab 20 lbs and put it in the freezer for future but right now I'm not sure where to find it.
Thanks

If you have no LHBS, you could try the health food store.  Look for raw wheat berries.

<edit to add> yes, wheat will gelatinize at mash temps.  I think 148F is the temp needed.  But you can just cook it, then add cool water to it to get to a few degrees above your strike temp, then add the barley.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 06, 2011, 05:44:36 PM
You probably can't tell from my picture but I'm not the "health food store' type of guy.  I'll see what I can find but I have no idea where one of those are either.  If they sold wheat at the hardware store or the liquor store I'd be great.  After that, not so sure.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: matt.critchlow on July 06, 2011, 05:56:33 PM
I'm curious about this technique also. i've yet to try a raw wheat wit, and thinking of giving this method a try once I get a handle on the procedure.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 06:13:23 PM
You probably can't tell from my picture but I'm not the "health food store' type of guy.  I'll see what I can find but I have no idea where one of those are either.  If they sold wheat at the hardware store or the liquor store I'd be great.  After that, not so sure.
Google knows where one is :)

Something like Whole Foods should have them.  I can't remember where in Canada you are, but there are a few WF and bound to be some other stores that carry it.

BTW, you can put your location in your profile, and if you put it in "profile > forum profile information > personal text" it will show up under your picture like mine does.  It's helpful at times like this. :)

Oh, and Blanche de Chambly is good, and pretty easy to find around here.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 06, 2011, 08:50:58 PM
I found raw wheat.  I called a friend who works at a feed company and he's bringing me 5 lbs of feed wheat.  It could have a few stalks in it but I figure that will just help with the lautering process.  It's just a little straw. 
I googled it and there are only 6 Whole Foods in Canada, 4 in Vancouver and 2 in Toronto.  I'm not surprised, it seems like a West Coast thing and people in Toronto are odd (at least my wife's family is...)

Glad to hear that you can get BdC out there.  It's owned by Sapporro now that they bought out the Sleeman brewery so they probably have a lot more distribution than I anticipated. 
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 09:20:33 PM
Feed wheat?  Let us know how it turns out.  It's guaranteed to be cheaper than from the store, but I don't know about the quality.  Do you know what kind of wheat it is?  WF was just an example, there is very likely to be a store near you that carries it.

We've been able to get a wide selection of Unibroue beers for a pretty long time.  We miss some of the specialties, but I've gotten Apple Ephemere, Currant Ephemere, and of course when it comes out I always get Quelque Chose.  But La Fin Du Monde is a no-brainer, great beer.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on July 06, 2011, 09:35:48 PM
Actually I did quite a bit of research (the literary type) and found wheat gelatinization temps vary wildly. Some varieties do gelatinize at mash temps and others are a bit on the high side. Just boil it and you can be 100% sure it is gelatinized, easy...
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 09:38:20 PM
Good to know Mike, thanks.  Was it a red/white/hard/soft difference, or by variety, or crop year, or ??
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on July 06, 2011, 09:45:24 PM
I think it's all of the above and then how finely it is ground/crushed. Most experiments are done using flour. I think that old MoreBeer thread has some info I posted, lemme see...
http://forums.morebeer.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=22378&start=5&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

Not the exact temp research I did, but demonstrates the range is higher than a standard mash temp. I use the boiled wheat to help mash in the rest of the grist.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 06, 2011, 10:13:58 PM
Feed wheat?  Let us know how it turns out.  It's guaranteed to be cheaper than from the store, but I don't know about the quality.  Do you know what kind of wheat it is?  WF was just an example, there is very likely to be a store near you that carries it.

We've been able to get a wide selection of Unibroue beers for a pretty long time.  We miss some of the specialties, but I've gotten Apple Ephemere, Currant Ephemere, and of course when it comes out I always get Quelque Chose.  But La Fin Du Monde is a no-brainer, great beer.

Tom,
Not sure what the wheat is, I'll check it out when I get it tonight.  Price was free so I think I can afford that.  I'm sure the quality will be ok but I'll be taking a very close look at it before I brew with it (particularly for any sign of diseased kernels).  Glad to hear that you've had some of our better brews.  La Fin Du Monde is fantastic.

MDixon
Can you explain the mashing process in further detail?  I am going to assume you need to mill the grain first then boil it and then mash it in with the barley at the temperatures you stated.  Still unsure about how I'd do that in a cooler.  Any comment on water?  I assume very low in hardness/carbonates would be best.  I'll be using 2/3 distilled, 1/3 tap because I have fairly hard tap water. 
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: tschmidlin on July 06, 2011, 10:19:20 PM
I think it's all of the above and then how finely it is ground/crushed. Most experiments are done using flour. I think that old MoreBeer thread has some info I posted, lemme see...
http://forums.morebeer.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=22378&start=5&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

Not the exact temp research I did, but demonstrates the range is higher than a standard mash temp. I use the boiled wheat to help mash in the rest of the grist.
Good info, thanks Mike.  I'll try boiling with my next raw wheat beer.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on July 07, 2011, 12:15:28 PM
Take the cracked/crushed/whatever raw wheat and boil with water (doesn't really matter how much so long as it is soupy) for 15 min or so. You can do this easily on the stove, and could even do it ahead of time. I then add that to the mash or start the strike with the water since it is hot. My first temp is pretty cool at 104F so it may take some adjustment to get the mash temp right for the first rest. If you've not mashed that cool before, be sure and taste as the mash progresses. It's pretty nasty (kinda acidic) at the cold temps and is interesting how things change over time.

(Keep in mind I kettle mash so I ramp up the temp instead of infusing the mash with hot water for the next rest.)
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: jeffy on July 07, 2011, 01:14:57 PM
I've always heard that accompanying the wheat with some malt and resting it at sacc temp first keeps the whole thing from becoming a sticky mess on the stove.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on July 08, 2011, 01:34:31 AM
I've never done a cereal mash (wheat + malt) and have not found it to be a problem.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 08, 2011, 02:52:37 AM
I got my feed wheat.  It looks good.  Now, if Canada Post would get my damn yeast here I'd be brewing...
Oh, I also bought "Brewing with Wheat" yesterday and I'm half way through it.  Not sure why that matters since I'll be following Mdixon's recipe (although it kills me a little inside to follow a recipe) but I'm really liking the idea of using wheat.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: hopfenundmalz on July 08, 2011, 12:39:25 PM
Using raw wheat for Wits and p-Lambics, I have always just done an infusion mash, and hit my OG.  Pragmatic and easy (channeling Denny a little).

Boiling or a cereal mash would burst the small starch granuales, just like a decoction does for malted barley.  Randy Mosher says that it gives a superior mouthfeel (Radical Brewing?).  SInce I have been doing decoctions for Pilsners, and cereal mashes for CAPs, I might do a cereal mash if I ever do a Wit again.

If one looks through "Brewing With Wheat", one will find step mashes used by the commercial brewers that use raw wheat.  That might be due to equipment limitations, as many would not have invested in a cereal cooker.


Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 12, 2011, 07:04:21 PM
Finally, yeast is here.  I assume you need a decent starter with this?  I'm going to make a starter regardless because I don't know how long this yeast sat in the post office (things are still very slow thanks to a recent strike).  It was pretty warm when it got here so I think I'll do a 1.5L starter just to make sure it's alive and healthy before I start fermenting.  

I may have missed it but what is the recommended fermentation temps for this style.  My air conditioner crapped out too today (not going to buy any lottery tickets this week) so it could get a bit warm in the basement (70-75F).  It's usually 65-68 down there all year when the AC is running.

Sorry, forgot to mention the yeast in question is WLP400 Belgian Wit Ale Yeast.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: linenoiz on July 12, 2011, 09:15:06 PM
I just brewed this (http://wiki.homebrewersassociation.org/MustBeTheSeasonoftheWitAllGrain) recipe using that yeast. I fermented at a temp-controlled 73 and it came out great.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on July 13, 2011, 01:05:21 AM
I prefer 3944 at 68F. 400 was a bit tamer in my various incantations, YMMV
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 20, 2011, 12:44:16 AM
How sour should this yeast be?  What I mean is that I have made a starter and during the "occasional shaking" process, some ran out and I tasted it and it is pretty sour.  I do have a lot of fruit flies this time of year but it's been tightly closed with tin foil.  Not saying it's gone bad but is the sourness normal?  It's a lot more sour than I would expect having drank commercial wits.

Also, I did find Indian coriander (at least it says it was grown in India).  Gonna try to brew this on Thursday unless you say the yeast is contaminated (no evidence of anything floating).  Not sure where that was suggested but I remember reading it somewhere.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on July 20, 2011, 11:16:19 AM
I don't know that I have ever tasted a witbier yeast starter so I'm no help with that one...
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 21, 2011, 03:40:35 PM
When would you measure the pH using Mdixon's schedule?  I used 5L of tap water to boil the grain and 15 L of distilled water and the pH is 6.4 after the 10 min rest at 104.  I'm going to adjust them at the saccarification rest (153) but do I need to worry prior to that?
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: denny on July 21, 2011, 04:49:01 PM
When would you measure the pH using Mdixon's schedule?  I used 5L of tap water to boil the grain and 15 L of distilled water and the pH is 6.4 after the 10 min rest at 104.  I'm going to adjust them at the saccarification rest (153) but do I need to worry prior to that?

Nope.  The sacc rest is where it really counts.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 21, 2011, 07:55:28 PM
That was my first step mash.  That sucked.  Couldn't get the temp to stabilize anywhere except 104 since that's about the ambient temp outside here today.  I need a new, quicker reading and probably more accurate thermometer.  Everytime I got it to where I thought it would be good, I'd leave it for 5 mins, check again the temp would be way high or way low from what I was expecting. 

But, I guess it went OK, not sure yet since it's just boiling now.  Did hit pH 5.3 for the sacc rest so I was happy there but my temp kept dropping so I was probably somewhere between 155 and 145 most of the time.  Not that worried about it, it'll be fine but I don't know how you guys hit your temps.  I did it on the flame and then after mash-out moved everything to my cooler to sparge.  By the time I was done, it could have been a no-sparge beer since I got about 20L of first runnings.  Only sparged with 8L to rinse the grain because I didn't want to boil all afternoon.
Thanks for all the advice and I'll let you know how it turns out.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on July 21, 2011, 09:11:10 PM
I set the flame to barely kiss/lap at the bottom of the kettle as the temp is ramping up and stir, stir, stir for at least a few minutes after I reach my desired temp. I'm generally dead nuts on. I use a thermometer I got at WalMart which I have found is fairly accurate when tested against my lab quality Hanna ChecktempF
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on July 21, 2011, 10:23:46 PM
I forgot to add the 15 peppercorns.  Can I add them later?  Do they need to boil?
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on July 22, 2011, 12:39:23 PM
Just leave them out. See what you think. I like the complexity the small amount of pepper adds to the mix, but putting them in the fermenter would add something different.

Basically I made many incantations trying to get back to an extract kit I made which scored 42 at comp and was a darn nice Witbier. Getting the AG up to par I always thought it needed a little more spice and I decided to add just a few peppercorns and that seemed to make the difference in the end. I spin everything to dust in a spice grinder and add near the end of the boil. I guess you could boil them and add, but I wouldn't bother. Decide if you like the outcome as is and then tweak to make it what your desired witbier would be...
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on August 28, 2011, 12:26:05 PM
This is now bottled and carbed and I'm fairly happy with the results.  The Wit character is great but I used 1/2 oz of chamomile flowers in the brew and they are over-powering all of the other spices.  The orange/coriander flavour that you'd expect is sort of not apparent.  It's good but next time I'm gonna switch out the LHBS dried orange peel for some fresh grated and cut the chamomile to 1/4 oz.  If you really love chamomile tea, you'd love this beer.
Thanks for all the advice.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: MDixon on September 01, 2011, 01:52:49 PM
I don't like Chamomile in a Wit and you'll find that it takes a buttload of fresh peel/zest.

I'd suggest you head back to basics, no chamomile (unless you love it) and maybe boost the coriander and peels to your taste. The peels really add to the bitterness of the brew.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on September 01, 2011, 03:42:11 PM
Should I stick with the dried peel from the LHBS?  Some sources suggest that this gives more pithy bitterness than flavour and fresh zest would be better. 
I agree, I'll leave out the chamomile next time and see how it goes.  I like it but it doesn't fit the "traditional" flavour profile, that's for sure.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: denny on September 01, 2011, 03:45:17 PM
Should I stick with the dried peel from the LHBS?  Some sources suggest that this gives more pithy bitterness than flavour and fresh zest would be better. 
I agree, I'll leave out the chamomile next time and see how it goes.  I like it but it doesn't fit the "traditional" flavour profile, that's for sure.

The dried peel is traditional and I prefer it to fresh.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: tschmidlin on September 01, 2011, 05:07:53 PM
I prefer fresh zest.  Like Mike said, you're going to have to do it to your taste.  If you really aren't sure, start more basic and come up from there.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: denny on September 01, 2011, 05:12:14 PM
I prefer fresh zest. 

You would.... ;D
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: tschmidlin on September 01, 2011, 05:16:36 PM
I prefer fresh zest.

You would.... ;D
Well it wouldn't be wet zest. ;D
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: jeffy on September 01, 2011, 05:50:53 PM
I prefer fresh zest.

You would.... ;D
Well it wouldn't be wet zest. ;D
Ha!  I get it.
I also use fresh zest.  I find the bitterness harsh and unpleasant when the white pith of the citrus is used and I'm pretty sure that is still on the peels you get it at the store.  To me, it has a taste reminiscent of spoiled fruit.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on September 01, 2011, 05:55:39 PM
I'm actually gonna enter a couple bottles of this into a homebrew competition as "Chamomile Wit".  It's not a BJCP event so something like this that isn't too style but is sort of unique may do pretty well.  Who knows.  Like I said, it's good, just not what you'd expect.

Thanks to MDixon for the mash schedule and to Jeffy for advice on flavours and to everyone else for their comments.  It's probably gonna be a while before I get to do this again anyway (darn work!)
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: orangehero on April 22, 2014, 08:43:53 AM
MDixon,

Any thoughts regarding different raw wheat types for use in witbier (e.g. soft white winter, hard red, etc.)?
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: Jimmy K on April 22, 2014, 12:22:28 PM
Hard wheats have more protein and so tend to give more haze. I think soft wheat is better for less hazy american wheat beers. That said, most use whatever is at the LHBS.

Sent from my XT1030 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: denny on April 22, 2014, 02:57:05 PM
MDixon,

Any thoughts regarding different raw wheat types for use in witbier (e.g. soft white winter, hard red, etc.)?

FWIW, I usually make Mike's recipe using flaked wheat.  For me it's easier to deal with.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: gmac on April 22, 2014, 04:33:06 PM
MDixon,

Any thoughts regarding different raw wheat types for use in witbier (e.g. soft white winter, hard red, etc.)?

Not sure you'll get Mike to reply but I use Bulgur which is cracked red wheat from Bob's Red Mill simply because its so much easier to get at the grocery store.  Boil it and mash, seems to work for me.  I doubt the wheat is that critical as long as you're using unmalted wheat. 
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: Iliff Ave on April 22, 2014, 05:23:54 PM
FWIW, BJCP says unmalted soft winter white wheat is traditional.

I just brewed a wit and didn't realize that unmalted wheat was necessary. I used malted white wheat. Oh well...I guess I am not much a traditionalist...
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: blatz on April 22, 2014, 05:27:13 PM
FWIW, BJCP says unmalted soft winter white wheat is traditional.

I just brewed a wit and didn't realize that unmalted wheat was necessary. I used malted white wheat. Oh well...I guess I am not much a traditionalist...

I make it that way quite often since I usually have wheat malt on hand, but the flaked stuff I have to special order for the recipe.

I can't say I've ever noticed a difference to when I've used flaked.  YMMV.
Title: Re: Wit Recipe
Post by: Jimmy K on April 22, 2014, 07:25:24 PM
FWIW, BJCP says unmalted soft winter white wheat is traditional.
I never noticed that in the guidelines.

I had heard that Belgians use soft wheat. Problem is in Europe 'soft' wheat refers to all our normal varieties and hard refers to durum wheat. I was never sure if it got translated correctly.