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Wit Beer Recipe & Process

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by kjyost, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. Well, I finally am going to take on one of my favourite styles: a wit. I have been mainly waiting due to the lack of yeast, and I have finally acquired a pack of WY3944.

    So I have read the section out of Radical Brewing on the beers and am listening to Jamil's show on wits.

    My general thoughts are 45% Canadian 2-Row, 45% Unmalted Wheat Berries & 10% Flaked Oats to ~1.045. ~25 IBUs, maybe 1 oz Cascade @ 30 with additions of fresh orange zest (2 oranges), 1/2 oz Indian Coriander, 1/8 C Flour & maybe some chamomile. Mash at 154F.

    My questions / advice I am looking for:
    1: Jamil uses acidulated malt to accentuate the acidic tang, any reason to do this?
    2: Can I do a single infusion mash (my gut says yes), and is there any benefit to a cereal mash otherwise? Is my mash temp reasonable here? How low do I want this to finish?
    3: Any suggestions for a fermentation schedule and temperatures? Jamil is suggesting 64F to avoid banana ester production...
  2. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Savant (305) Germany Apr 17, 2008

    I am brewing a wit right now and am using acidulated for the first time. I think the tang will help balance the soft bready floral and make it more crisp.

    I am doing a single infusion, but much lower. Around 148 or so. I was looking for more fermentability. Wheat gelatinizes around 145 or so so it shold be fine in the mash, but I added mine to my warmer strike water and let it cool just to make sure since my rest temperature was so close. The flaked oats are fine I think.

    I also think lower fermentation temps are better. I'll probably be a bit warmer than that, somewhere around 68 based on the information in Brewing with Wheat by Stan Hieronymus
  3. I have brewed many Belgian Wits but my recipe is somewhat different from yours.

    The only question that you posed that I feel I can contribute to is to Question 3. I have consistently brewed my Wits at 70°F. I have never experienced any banana esters from 3944 at this temperature. In my opinion, Wyeast 3944 contributes spicy phenolics and very, very subtle ester (fruity) flavors. I have never experienced banana fruity flavors with this yeast. As an aside I really perceive banana flavors when I ferment with 3068.

    As regards the topic of fermentation schedule, 3944 has the ‘appearance’ of fermenting for a very long time (e.g., 3 weeks). You will see a rocky krausen which just doesn’t seem to want to fall. My first Wit I let the fermentation go for three weeks and then I said: damn it, I am bottling this beer. I have since always let my Wit’s ferment for three weeks. Fermentation is likely complete before this timeframe but I have always been happy with a three week ferment.

    Some comments to your recipe for your consideration:

    I have mostly used European hops for making my wits. I would use something like Saaz for bittering. I also add 1 ounce of Saaz at 20 minutes before the end of boil; I think the spicy flavor of Saaz complements to other spicy flavors within the beer (yeast produced spicy flavors plus the spicy flavors from the spice additions). Using Cascade as a bittering hop is a bit non-traditional but it may ‘work’ as well. In my last Wit I used Sterling as my bittering hop; I was pleased with that hop as a bittering hop.

    As regards coriander I personally do not have experience with Indian Coriander (the oblong seed). I have always used ‘regular’ coriander I bought from the homebrew stores. For my first Wit (which I brewed back in 1998) I used ½ ounce of coriander seed which I crushed in a pestle & mortar. That beer was dominated by the coriander taste; the beer was drinkable but it had way too much coriander taste for me. In subsequent batches I only used 1 tablespoon (before crush) of coriander. I found this level of coriander spicing much more pleasant. I add my coriander with 10 minutes left in the boil. Coriander (when you don’t add too much) adds a nice citrus taste to the Wit.

    I personally have only used curacao (bitter) orange peel in my Wits; ½ ounce. I have no experience with using the zest of fresh oranges. Curacao orange peel adds a nice chamomile taste to the Wit. Perhaps you will be obtaining this from the actual addition of chamomile?

    Good luck with your Wit. I find Wit beers to be very pleasant and enjoyable especially during the warm times of the year. I recently purchased ingredients for a Wit; I will be brewing it in late spring (e.g., late May).

    Cheers!

    P.S. I can provide a little bit of ‘insight’ on the acidified malt topic. In my early Wit’s I would add ½ teaspoon of lactic acid during bottling. The rationale was to add some ‘tartness’ to the Wit. I was always a bit nervous doing this (is ½ teaspoon too much kind of thing). I did the lactic acid addition for a couple of batches but I stopped. I think that Wit’s without ‘tartness’ taste good and there is no need for ‘tartness’ in my opinion.
  4. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (695) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    Cook those wheat berries. Or do a cereal mash. Or both.
  5. I thought I had read that wheat gelatinizes at mash temperatures, and thus a cereal mash is unnecessary. Is this false or is just such a pain in the arse to get them to gelatinize in the mash that I should be cooking them to get them more "open" to conversion?
  6. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Savant (305) Germany Apr 17, 2008

    According to how to brew wheat gelatinizes at mash temps.
  7. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Savant (355) Louisiana Dec 3, 2005

    If it is the same podcast i am thinking of, that particular podcast was not JZ. It was Scott "Doc" Lothamer. It's a great episode. Jamil has addressed the "flour addition" in another podcast, I think the Bavarian weizen show. He recommends against the flour addition.
  8. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    He definitely recommends against flour in the weizen show. But it wasn't (necessarily) in the context of (belgian) Wit.
  9. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (695) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1693.0
    Scroll down to Kaiser's comments. This is more or less what I was thinking.
  10. He actually claims in his wit show to add 1 Tbsp per gallon to the boil IIR.
  11. I have often contemplated adding flour to the boil when I make my Wits. My personal experience with my Wit beers is that the first case of beer is pretty cloudy (from the proteins in the raw wheat). By the time I get to drinking my second case the Wit beers are fairly clear. They are still very tasty but the clear appearance is a bit ‘different’ considering it is a Wit.

    I have never added flour out of concern that any microorganisms in the beer that may have survived my sanitation process may view the extra starch that I added (the flour) as a source of food and consequently my Wit beers would develop off flavors (and over carbonation?). If you drink your Wit beers quickly then this is not an issue. Due to my brewing schedule I tend to have homebrews last for quite some time. I still have a few Wit beers in my refrigerator that was brewed in June 2011.

    Cheers!
  12. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Savant (355) Louisiana Dec 3, 2005

    The wit podcast was done by Doc Scott not JZ. He mentions his "cheat" for haze as being so much flour per gallon. Towards the end of the weizen podcast, that specific addition is brought up. Jamil stated not to add flour. He said if you are using at least 50% wheat (which you will in a wit, malted or unmalted) and properly rouse the yeast you will get an adequate haze. This should be simple in bottles. That being said, I'm new to kegging, but I could see kegged beer being a little more work at rousing yeast and haze.

    I don't doubt that it would work, I just take Jamil at his word that it's unnecessary. I also don't doubt the skills of Scott Lothamer.
  13. bum732

    bum732 Advocate (630) Lesotho Feb 18, 2008

  14. ryane

    ryane Savant (320) Washington Nov 21, 2007

    Ive brewed several wits and other belgian styles using in excess of 40% unmalted wheat berries, I just grind them to a flour and use them. I generally do a starch test on these beers and it always comes up negative, so I dont think it is an issue
  15. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (695) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    Hey! I posted that a over a month ago! You can't expect me to remember anything I said yesterday, let alone hold me responsible for anything I said in April! However, the post I referenced says "the problem with wheat that is not in flour form..." Just because the starch is gelatinized does not mean it is easily accessed by the enzymes. Your grinding helped make that access happen. Now that I think about it, whenever I have used torrified wheat, my efficiency has been low; I wonder if this is because the crush is insufficient to expose the starches to the enzymes.

    Anyhow, I'm glad you got me to revisit this post, as I'll be using raw spelt in an upcoming saison. When you say flour, do you really mean fine and powdery, like bread flour? How literal are you being? I don't have a mill for curshing grains for brewing, but I do have a flour mill. My original plan was to grind it in a food processor, but if flour is the way to go, I can do flour. Do you have any lautering issues with 40% flour in your mash tun?
  16. ryane

    ryane Savant (320) Washington Nov 21, 2007

    Yes, I actually mean flour. I dont have a flour mill, I used to just crack it with my barley crusherl, and that worked pretty well, but it was difficult to get the berries to pass through the rollers so I switched my method. Now I use a blender and grind it to a fine powder, just slightly more coarse than you would buy from the store. Ive never had a stuck mash doing this, as its almost all converted to sugars, do you have issues with malted wheat?
    barfdiggs likes this.
  17. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Savant (420) California Mar 22, 2011

    This is what I've done with my last couple wits (For the Torrified wheat) and its worked out awesome.
  18. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (695) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    Yes, my malted wheat efficiencies are also low (low 60%s), which I also assume has to do with the crush I get. For my saison, which I think will use about 20% spelt, I think I'll go with powder to see how it works for me

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