Saturday, May 21, 2011

Witbier 2.0

A little review... I brewed my Witbier recipe last Saturday afternoon. This is one of the first recipes I started from scratch, rather than borrowing and modifying a recipe someone else had posted. I have brewed this recipe three times. The first time I got 83% efficiency (really good), then the second and third times I got less than 50% efficiency (terrible).

I think I have it figured out now... (this may be total boring jargon to non-brewers, but bear with me) When designing the recipe, I was reading a wiki article on the Wit style. The article gave general outlines ratios of grains to use. It suggested a certain percentage of unmalted wheat, but unmalted wheat is difficult to handle in the mash. The wiki then stated that if you should use malted wheat instead, a larger ratio is necessary to get the same flavor. I misread, and used the larger ratio of unmalted wheat. So the problem was my recipe... fail.

Sidenote... Malting is when the grains (barley, wheat) are wetted, allowed to sprout, and then dried. This creates a chemical change to the carbohydrates in the grain and starts to convert them into simpler sugars.

In the mash, we use the enzymes that exist in malted barley to further break down the sugars and carbohydrates contained in the grain, into simple sugars that yeast can then eat and turn into alcohol. In unmalted wheat, these sugars are still locked up as complex carbs, making conversion more difficult. This is why I got poor efficiency on my last two batches. The reason I got good efficiency the first time is kind of a mystery, but I suspect I accidentally got malted instead of unmalted wheat. So I probably screwed up and did it right the first time...

It is possible with a few more steps and procedures to release the sugars, things like decoctions and cereal mashes. I won't go into the details of these, bc I have no experience...

So... to test my theory of what went wrong I am brewing again today. Back to back Wits... I had two choices, keep my recipe the same and get fancy trying new techniques, or change my recipe to fit my skill level. Since the recipe I was using wasn't correct for the style anyway, I took the easy route and switched most of the unmalted wheat to malted wheat. I know, I know... total wuss move, totally ashamed... I may play with advanced stuff like decoctions in the future, but I don't think I'm there yet and aside from this one recipe, I am having really good results. Also, right now I would prefer to focus on my recipes anyway.

Details of this brewday... same recipe, except for the change in wheat. I did not buy yeast this time. I figured my first batch would be done by today. I figured I would rack to a keg, and pour the new wort right into the same "dirty" (totally sanitary) bucket with all the yeast still sitting in the bottom. The old yeast would wake right up and go full nuts on the new wort. ...but, when I tested the beer last night, it's almost done... but I don't want to rack it yet. So, I tried something new I haven't done before. I actually haven't heard much of people doing it (probs totally do)... I made a starter just like I showed last time, but instead of using a smack pack, I harvested yeast from my active batch in the fermentor. I used a dedicated, sanitized turkey baster to pull the sample, making sure to get lots of the foamy krausen on top and some of the actual beer (shoulda taken pics, sry) let that culture overnight, hopefully those yeasties are multiplying like crazy right now...crap, just realized I forgot to check on it before leaving for work this AM...I mean...what?? I'm totally not blogging at work. (okok, I am... but it's my second, PT job. Zamboni driver, lot's of down time... no judge.)

Check back tonight or tomorrow for more hot blogging action... I will fully be here, talking about my brewday. later...

1 comment:

  1. just in case anyone is waiting on the edge of their seats (not likely), I'll post results tonight. Was too tired to blog last night, and busy family stuff today. So... def tonight.