Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

My Photo
Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wheat beer tasting

Soon, well, eventually, it will be spring--and spring is for wheat beer, non?

With that in mind, here are reflections on two wheat beers. What I'm curious about is yeast choice. I've used three wheat yeasts over the years, the Wyeast Weihenstephan strain (abundant banana and clove; characterful, but can get out of hand) the Wyeast 3333 strain (much cleaner and more restrained but still clearly a German wheat yeast), and, more recently Safbrew WB06. These two wheat beers use the latter two strains and unfortunately do not have carbon copy recipes, but, still, maybe I can figure something or other out:

Sunny Thursday, brewed last February, used 3333 and had a higher proportion of wheat than the other beer; it also had a higher OG (1054).

Cloudy Thursday was brewed in May with the Safbrew, a little less wheat, and is more slimly built (1045). My recollection is that the lower gravity and the light hand with the wheat malt were simply dictated by supply issues, i.e. I was using up all my wheat and used just enough pils to balance it.

I gotta think of a better way to name wheat beers. I got on this brew-day-weather-related naming kick with the first one I made and it stuck for some weird reason. Worse yet, they wind up with inscrutable initials on the caps, for which reason Michael C. took to calling Sunny Thursday Saint Weizen. . .

So, anyway, ST and CT are both decent wheat beers. CT is a touch tarter and a touch fruitier in the aromatics. If I were brewing another wheat beer right now (I should relatively soon) I'd go with the ST grain bill and SG, as it is the prettier beer in terms of color and clarity (if you pour it sans yeast), and has a somewhat more satisfying body. My inclination would be to forego the dry yeast, despite its convenience, simply because I've been gravitating toward less fruity wheat beers. If I get bored with 3333 I could always try the Safbrew or the Weihenstephan again, but I think, come mid- to late- February, I'll clone ST and call it something else. But if any brewers are reading this and like to use dry yeast (I do), the WB06 is pretty decent stuff, not as phenolic as Weihenstephan, not as clean as 3333--at least at these (unknown at this point) fermentation temps.

I'm going to attempt to have this be the first in a little series of "beers and what I learned from them" postings in the vague hope that a) I will learn something, b) I will intellectualize my alcohol intake, and c) I will actually use this stupid blog, which does have its charms.