Monday 19 March 2012

Tasting/Recipe : D'yer Mak'er

This recent bout of unseasonably warm weather has gotten me into a Hefeweizen mood. Unfortunately, I'm all out of homebrewed Hefeweizen! D'oh. When I brewed my last batch sometime last summer, I DID re-use the yeast, however, to brew a Dunkelweizen. Luckily enough, I still have several of these on hand. While Dunkelweizen, like Hefeweizen, is definitely better when consumed fresh, I find that it's still tasting pretty good, thanks to good storage conditions.

It's pretty obvious from the name that Dunkelweizen is very similar to Hefeweizen - both are German wheat beers that have a lot of banana and clove aromas and flavors, and very low bitterness. However, Dunkelweizens usually have an additional bready and caramel-type aroma and flavor, from the use of darker Munich or Vienna malts, and some specialty grain(s). Maybe not QUITE as refreshing as Hefeweizen, Dunkelweizens are still great on a warm day, and being relatively-low in alcohol are quite easy-drinking, when brewed correctly.

The recipe I used was, as has become fairly common for me, a mish-mash of a couple of the better-looking recipes I found. Like your typical Hefeweizen, about half of the grain bill is Wheat malt. There's also a hefty portion of Munich malt for the bready flavor/aroma, a bit of Pilsner malt to balance, and then some darker specialty grains for additional flavor, including just a touch of Carafa Special II, to add color without a roasted flavor (which is NOT appropriate for the style). I threw in a 1/2-lb of rice hulls as well, to help the wort flow better when vorlaufing (the huskless wheat malt can sometimes cause issues). Very straightforward in terms of hops - one small addition of Hallertau at the beginning to provide some balancing bitterness; this style of beer is NOT about the hops at all.

The re-cultured yeast was Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen, which is pretty much the hallmark for the style. It's fantastic at providing the banana and clove character, is low-flocculating (meaning the yeast don't settle out very quickly - Dunkelweizen is one of the few styles where cloudiness is a GOOD thing), and generally not too finicky with fermentation temperatures. One good thing to remember about this yeast is that the lower end of the temperature range (say, mid 60s) gives you more clove character, and the higher end (into the 70s) gives more banana. The best-brewed Dunkelweizens have a fairly equal balance between the two, so I aimed for the high-60s F during fermentation.

And the name of the beer? What can I say. It has nothing to do with Dunkelweizens that I know of. But I'm a huge Led Zeppelin fan, so why not?

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-large, off-white head that has very good lasting power. Very moussy. Body is brown, and cloudy from the roused yeast.

Aroma: Spicy, clove-like phenolics in the aroma (ok). Banana is present, but slightly less-so than the clove. A bit of breadiness and wheat aromas are also present. No hop aroma.

Taste: Like the aroma, the clove spiciness comes out ahead of the banana. The Munich provides some welcome bready flavors, with just a touch of tartness from the wheat. No hop flavor, no hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, with medium-high carbonation.

Overall: Fairly refreshing, and still tasting pretty good for being bottled almost 8 months. Tastes closer to Weihenstephaner Dunkelweizen than the Erdinger Dunkel (which always tastes a bit chocolatey to me). If I brewed the style again, I'd probably try using a bit more Munich malt to up the breadiness, and maybe ferment a touch warmer to bring out a bit more banana.

Recipe: (5.5 gallons, 74% efficiency): OG 1.055, FG 1.013, IBU 13, SRM 15.5

2.61 kg Wheat malt
1.14 kg Munich malt
773 g Bohemian Pilsner
170 g Crystal 30 L
170 g Special B
57 g Carafa Special II
227 g rice hulls

Hallertau - 28 g (3.9% AA) @ 60 min

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min

Yeast: Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen (~2/3 cup of slurry, harvested June 26th)

- Brewed July 4th, 2011, with Jill. 60 minute mash with 17 L of campden-treated strike water, mashed in at 153 F. Sparged with ~5.5 gallons of 180 F water for final volume of 7.25 gallons in the kettle. 90 minute boil.

- Chilled down to 70 F with immersion chiller... about as cool as I could get it with the hot outdoor temps. Poured into Better Bottle. Set in ice bath to drop temp further... pitched yeast slurry about 5 hours later when temp hit 66 F. Aerated by shaking for several minutes before and after pitching.

- Active fermentation for ~5 days, temp reached as high as 72 F... this was with keeping the fermenter in an ice-bath the whole time. Bottled several weeks later with 162 g table sugar, aiming for 3 vol CO2 for 5 gallons.


  1. Had my first Dunkel Weissbier from Weihenstephaner the other weekend and man was it good! I'm psyched to brew up some wheat beers now that the summer is almost in full swing. I might even break out another decoction day and try to do a traditional wheat beer mash, we'll see.This one looks delicious, that yeast is beautiful!

    1. I saw that check-in, and I agreed with your comment then. Weihenstephaner easily makes some of the best (and probably THE best) German wheat beers that I've ever had. My Dunkelweizen is on its way out (bottled it at the end of last summer), so it's probably good I only have a few left. Gotta get on another hefeweizen! One of the best summer beer styles around.