I went through a phase where I thought I didn’t like Bavarian Weissbier. I got over it.
Much like my wife thought she didn’t like Scotch (she just hadn’t found the right Scotch), I don’t think I had ever had a really fresh Weissbier up to that point, and was basing my opinion on some sadly stored examples. This is a style that loses charm with age and poor storage conditions. But my mind was changed by Schneider, Weihenstephaner, Paulaner, Ayinger, and others in situ, and more recently some very nice efforts from American breweries (New Glarus Dancing Man and Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss come to mind immediately) keep the impression vivid. So Weissbier re-entered my brewing rotation.
Enough historiography, let’s manipulate environmental factors in a fermentation to affect the flavor profile:
The past … oh, several batches of Weiss I’ve brewed have been open or at least un-sealed fermentations, which fosters isoamyl acetate and made my basement smell like banana cream pie. Not a bad thing by any means, but change is the only constant and this time around I felt like switching things up.
The Weihenstephaner wheat beer strain, by whatever lab number it’s called, is a beast of a gem of a fungus, and arguably more than almost any other strain can create a vastly different beer through slight alterations to the fermentation parameters: single-temp mash, underpitch, underaerate, ferment warm, and you get a banana bomb. Multi-step mash with a rest for ferulic acid, overpitch, give it lots of O2, ferment cool, and the 4-vinyl guaicol responsible for the spicy, clove, cinnamon, and plastic phenols dominates the banana out of existence. Do some of both and find a balance, but in any event it showcases the malt character without which it just wouldn’t be Bavarian.
Here’s what I did:
- Multi-temp mash with rests at 111, 130, 156, and 170F
- Oxygenated well and pitched with an embarrassment of Wyeast 3068
- Sealed the conical from the get-go
- Started fermentation at 66F and let it run warm – up to 72F at high krausen
This was a 10 gallon batch in a 14.2 gallon fermenter … so 29.5% headspace. Lesson learned: when it says 33% headspace, do not short it when pitching a lot of this strain.
Full recipe and tasting notes to follow.