Batch #7-11: Heavy Honey Hefeweizen

Style Heavy Honey Hefeweizen
Ingredients View Here (tentative)
Brewing Date: Thursday: June 23, 2011
Primary Fermentation: Thursday: June 23, 2011
Original Gravity: 1.062 @ 80F (1.0647)
Secondary Fermentation: Thursday: Monday: July 4, 2011
Interim Gravity: 1.018 @ 72F (1.0196)
Bottling Date: Tuesday: July 12, 2011
Final Gravity: 1.016 @ 72F (1.0173)
Release Date: Friday, August 12, 2011
Alcohol by volume: 6.7% ABV (6.2% ABV RAW)
Final Release Name: Bee Rated

A first time Hefeweizen.  This is a seven week process.  I am varying the bittering hops from the recipe, substituting Magnum hops for Amarillo hops… since Amarillo seems to be out of stock in the brew shops at the moment.


This was the first batch I have brewed in 90-days, and it was like riding a bicycle after a long break: the skills were there, but it took a little bit to remember them.  As soon as I had the water at 160F, and added the grain to start the mash, I remembered that I had forgotten to put in the 3 gallons of water into the freezer one hour earlier.  I managed to fill 3 gallon containers from my ice water dispenser in the fridge, which appeared to be cold enough to make up for the lost hour.

This brew has a nice starting gravity, although the recipe claims it should be 1.100.  The wort has a nice aroma with the honey.  For the starter, I added the standard 5oz malt pack to the water and also added about a two teaspoons of honey as it started to boil.  After 24 hours, the foam on the starter was very thick and smooth.  This should be an indication of how the head on this batch will turn out after (gasp) 7 weeks.

Fermentation is again using the wick method: this method is very successful for me.  There are a lot of sugars in this batch, and I pitched the yeast (quite active after 48 hours) when the wort was 80F.  I’m very interested to see how the yeast is doing around the 12 hour point of fermentation.  This yeast has the potential to be very active early in the fermentation cycle, which would benefit the final brew (my fingers are crossed).

Friday, June 24th 7:00PM.  The bubbling at 7:00AM was running about 1 small burst per 3 seconds… pretty active for such a short time.  When I checked it at 7:00PM, the S-airlock had most of the water blown out and there was small pool of wort on the top of the lid.  Obviously, the yeast was pitched at an active state, and is having a field day on its food.  I cleaned up the pool and put on a clean S-lock.  The water appeared high enough to ensure no air was getting in, but I doubt even that would have caused a danger of infection.  There was a weak, but very steady stream of air leaving the airlock which would have prevented any air from backflowing into the fermentation bucket.

Sunday, July 3rd 9:00PM.  Transferred the batch to its secondary fermentation container.  The gravity reading after primary fermentation was 1.018 @ 72F, which means that the ABV after conditioning would be 6.3% (wow).

Tuesday, July 12th 10:30PM.  Bottling time… the yield was 39x 12oz bottles, 1x 2L growler, 1x 1L growler, 1x 34oz Ikea clear snap-top, and 1x 20oz snap-top.  The interesting surprise for me was the change in interim gravity to final gravity.  Even with no additional sugars added when I transferred the wort to secondary, the yeast were active enough to increase the alcohol content 0.3%.  So now the projected ABV after 4 weeks of conditioning is 6.7%.

I used honey to prime the bottles.  I am also glad that I am storing them in closed containers, since I am now worried about what the yeast might do with that food over the next several weeks.  I hope it doesn’t overload the bottles with pressure, which occurs commonly with mead.  The flavor is good, but the alcohol is very noticeable in this batch.  Time to get the lemons ready for the release… that’s what makes a Hefeweisen taste really good in the summer.

Saturday, July 17th 9:00PM.  Chilled a bottle in the fridge for two hours and tried it.  The head was barely forming, although there was a slight “whoosh” came out of the bottle when I loosened the cap.  Carbonation was minimal, but that’s not a big deal this early into conditioning.  This beer is quite thick: the 3 containers of malt extract and the honey really had an impact.  The alcohol was strong and very noticeable on the palate.  It’s clear that the flavors have not yet melded yet.  This appears to be similar in taste to the Alt Bier batch earlier this year, in the early stages on conditioning.  Hopefully this will end as well as that one did.

Sunday, July 31st 10:00PM.  Chilled a bottle in the fridge overnight and tried it.  The head was still barely forming, and carbonation was minimal. This is truly disappointing.  The alcohol was strong and very noticeable on the palate, and overall the beer is very bitter.  I talked with one of my home brewing coworkers (Paul), who pointed out that adding honey in the first half of the boil is what is causing the high bitterness in this batch.  He pointed out that honey, and anything else used for flavoring, should be added in the last 5 minutes of the boil.  Advice which I will heed in future batches.

I don’t hold out hope that this brew will improve with more conditioning time, as far as carbonation and bitterness.  It is drinkable, but I will probably experiment with this beer in making beer batter.  I think the next batch will be more promising, since it is using a recipe from Heart’s.  They have great recipes.

Friday, Aug 12th.  I shared this with a group of friends, who generally liked the beer.  I also had a batch of draft I made from a brew can, which some people commented was better for the hot weather instead of a “heavy” beer.

My only issue with this beer, as much as it turned out bitter, was the lack of carbonation during conditioning.  Some bottles had no carbonation at all.  A decent head on this beer would have made it wonderful, despite the mistimed honey addition during brewing.

Despite the problems, I recommend this recipe.  I just recommend better timing in the brew process than I had.. and I am sure your end result will be better.