Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Brewing my first Witbier

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by briggssteel, Apr 17, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. briggssteel

    briggssteel Apr 8, 2010 Ohio

    So I'm pretty certain the next beer I'm doing is a witbier. I've been working on a recipe and I was hoping for some feedback.

    5 gallon batch

    Expected OG: 48-52
    Expected FG: 10-12

    4.5lbs Belgian Pilsner Malt
    3.5lbs Torrifed Wheat (To replace Unmalted Wheat)
    2.5lbs Flaked Wheat
    1.5lbs Flaked Oats
    1.5lbs White Wheat Malt
    0.5lbs Rice Hulls

    Single Infusion Mash of 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain at 154 for 1 hour

    Don't know if I should boil for 90 minutes or 60 minutes but assuming 60:

    Hallertau (60)

    .50oz of ground Indian Corriander (5)
    Zest of 2 Oranges (5) (Tips on what type of orange to zest from would be helpful)

    Wyeast Witbier Yeast (Forget the number but you know what yeast I'm talking about)

    Fermenting at 68 for 2 weeks then bottle conditioning at 3 volumes

    Store at 52 for 2-3 weeks

    I've brewed extract for a couple of years but am new to all-grain brewing. I've done a couple of batches but this one seems a bit more challenging. I'm not sure if I'm using too many adjunct grains for my grain bill. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!
  2. kjyost

    kjyost May 4, 2008 Manitoba (Canada)

    It should still convert, but you're playing with fire here... 6# of enzymatic malt and 7.5# of non-enzymatic malt.

    Besides that, my first is in the primary. I used a mix of navel oranges (2 large), lemons (1) & mandarins (4 small)... I also added chamomile. We'll see if I over seasoned...
  3. briggssteel

    briggssteel Apr 8, 2010 Ohio

    Well I'm open to adjusting it. Should I cut out one or two of them or just bump them down? From what I've read, torrifed wheat seems really important in giving it the right flavor for the style. Flaked oats seem important for mouthfeel, I see a ton of recipes using a lot of flaked wheat so I don't know.
  4. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Apr 17, 2008 Germany

    I would lower your mash temp. For the style I think you are generally going for high attenuation and that mash temp might not favor a fermentable wort as well. I would also back off a bit on the spices. In Stan heironymus's Brewing with Wheat he says the head brewer of Boulevard suggests not exceeding 1g/gallon each for coriander and orange peel (1/6 oz for 5 gallons). Your orange zest (2 oranges) might be pretty close but a bit over that recommendation but the coriander is well over.

    Otherwise looks good. Let us know haw it goes.
  5. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Apr 17, 2008 Germany

    Also, for the wheat/oat to malted barley balance, I think the range of 40% wheat/oats-60% malted barley to 50%-50% is more typical.
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “Also, for the wheat/oat to malted barley balance, I think the range of 40% wheat/oats-60% malted barley to 50%-50% is more typical.” That is the ‘answer’ right there.

    You can read more here:http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/brewing-a-witbier-for-the-first-time-anything-special-i-should-know.12604/#post-148408

  7. Grohnke

    Grohnke Sep 15, 2009 Illinois

    90 minute might be a good idea becuase of the 4.5lb pils
  8. briggssteel

    briggssteel Apr 8, 2010 Ohio

    So I bumped up the pilsner to 6lbs, the torrified wheat is at 3, flaked wheat at 1.5, white wheat at 1.5, flaked oats is at 1and .5lbs of rice hulls. Does this look better? Also do you think 13.5lbs or good for hitting a gravity of 48-52 for the bill? We've been having efficiency problems and problems getting enough water. For instance last beer was a wheat beer with 4lbs 2 row and 6lbs white wheat malt and .5lbs of rice hulls. I tried to get a preboil of 6 but I don't think I did. I ended up with 4 gallons after the boil with an OG of 1.050 so I assume it was around 5 gallons pre boil. For this wit I'm using 13.5 pounds to try and make up for the lack of efficiency and the high use of adjuncts until we figure out how to get a higher efficiency.
  9. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Mar 22, 2011 California

    Looks like your oats are a bit high, at ~14% of the grist. I'd drop them to 5-10%, anything higher and the beer will be too slimy in the mouthfeel. I personally keep mine at about 5%.

    Drop the white wheat malit and replace with torrified or flaked wheat, since you do not want wheat malt in wits.

    The other thing, why both the flaked and the torrified? Both are raw wheat, however torrified has been puffed with hot air and I believe, is pre-gelatinized (Wheat starches gelatinize at mash temps anyway; but pre-gelatinization may help your efficiency). I tend to go with torrified because its actually millable; ever tried milling flaked wheat? It sucks.

    I tend to usually hit 70% efficiency on the dot with all of my brews, however with wits its right around 50%. While I have not done this with my wits, one thing that might be worth looking up in the future is a cereal mash, where you take a touch of pilsner or base malt and do a small mash with all of the oats and wheat, then heat to boiling to gelatinize the oats. Then add this heated mixture to your main mash (Which has been doing a short protein rest, or add at mash in) to bring up to saccharification temp. Its been claimed that while raw wheat gelatinizes at mash temp, the starches really aren't as easy to extract as compared to when its been boiled.

    Hope this helps. Cheers.
  10. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Apr 17, 2008 Germany

    I would still keep the wheat and oats to at most 50% of your grain bill. I don't know your system but 13.5 lbs is potentially going to overshoot your target. I always make sure to have extra water ready in case for some reason I don't have the runnings volume that I want. Preparing ~10 gallons of water seems to work out well for ending with 5-6 for my system. The rice hulls are a good call. I've never used that much. I've done 2 oz for a comparable beer and it worked out very well.

    How fast do you usually run off? That is an area where there is a lot of efficiency to be gained/lost.

    Barfdiggs, I think you may have read the 1 lb oats, 0.5 rice hulls as 1.5 lb oats. So 1 lb oats in 13.5 total should be fine.
  11. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Mar 22, 2011 California

    Yep, I mashed them together (pun intended). That would put the oats down into a suitable range.
  12. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Apr 17, 2008 Germany

  13. koopa

    koopa Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    The books I've read always suggest doing a 90 minute boil when pilsner malt is involved since it contains a larger amount of DMS that you want to boil of, so I second that suggestion.
  14. briggssteel

    briggssteel Apr 8, 2010 Ohio

    We do exactly that with the water. Have about ten gallons for a 6 gallon boil. I could overshoot my target but as I said I used too much grain to make up for the lack of efficiency. I figure if I have too much I can just cut it with water until I get the OG I want. However I am still trying to increase my efficiency so I don't have to keep using more grain than I should. I've been reading about how to improve efficiency and I think the sparge run off is the culprit. We usually run off for 10-15 minutes and I've been seeing it should be 45-50 minutes. We also order our grain crushed from midwest supplies and I haven't been paying close attention on if it's crushed enough. Finally, we don't haven't been doing a mash out and I hear you can get about 5 points from doing one.

    For my problem figuring out the right amount of water to get a 6 gallon boil I'm going to try out brew365 software to see how accurate it is. Hopefully all of this helps!
  15. ryane

    ryane Nov 21, 2007 Washington

    I agree with some of the other posters you should adjust your malt bill a bit,

    The wit I brew quite a bit is

    5.5# pils
    3# wheat
    1# oats
    mash @152

    It turns out great, and in those percentages Ive never need rice hulls.

    Also Malted wheat really has no place in a witbier (flavor isnt right), no need to spend the extra $$ on torrified wheat if you havent, as flaked wheat will suffice, and it converts fine in a single infusion mash (gelatization temp wheat is in the range of normal mash temps)

    I would suggest a 60min boil, 90 is overkill @ 60 you wont have DMS issues. I would also suggest dropping your mash volume a bit from 1.3qt/lb to ~1qt/lb or less, the thicker mash will help break down some of the proteins in the wheat and oats and will help it convert faster.
  16. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Apr 17, 2008 Germany

    So when you prepare 10 gallons for mashing and sparging, you end up with 6 gallons collected? Is there a lot of dead space at the bottom of your mash tun? What do you use for a mash tun? I usually get ~7.5 gallons for boil volume.

    edit: I think your runoff rate might be influencing it here. I think a mashout will help, especially for wheat heavy brews where it helps smoother runoff as well, but it may not be as big a deal as runoff rate. I bet the pre-crushed grain is crushed relatively well. Maybe not ideal but probably good enough. What do you use for a mash tun?There could be some hard core channeling reducing your efficiency.
  17. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Apr 17, 2008 Germany

    Here is what I do for a mashout. It is a bit janky but it works out well. I vorlauf at a constant slow rate alternating between two kitchen pots. When a pot is ~3/4 full, I switch to the other pot and put the first on the kitchen stove. I alternate between the two this way pulling a pot off and adding it back whenever the other one is getting close to full. It isn't super elegant but it seems to work out pretty well. I have a short distance between my outside brew setup and my kitchen stove, which helps.
  18. briggssteel

    briggssteel Apr 8, 2010 Ohio

    No no. I mean ten gallons of water on hand. We don't use it all. I use a converted 10 gallon round cooler. It seems to have very little dead space but I plan on measuring it exactly next time I brew. That's actually a pretty good idea because then you can heat it up without using any extra water to hit 168. I also think my runoff rate is probably the culprit. We were doing it in like 10 minutes so that's way too fast.
  19. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Apr 17, 2008 Germany

    Okay, cool. That makes much more sense. Do you use a refractometer or hydrometer to measure gravity? If refractometer, it is pretty easy to figure out when to stop sparging (~3-4 brix) and you can potentially collect runnings longer. What do you use as a false bottom/manifold?
  20. briggssteel

    briggssteel Apr 8, 2010 Ohio

    I use a hydrometer for measuring gravity. We don't use a false bottom. My brewmate is the one who made the tun but we have the original faucet taken out and a standard on off value (whatever they're called) connected to a pipe that has a cylindrical metal screen around it to keep the husks out.
  21. briggssteel

    briggssteel Apr 8, 2010 Ohio

    Ball valve. That's what it's called.
  22. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Apr 17, 2008 Germany

    That sounds reasonable. John Palmer's How to brew has a good discussion of different mash tun designs, advantages and disadvantages of each, what they are and aren't suited for, some efficiency info and such. Do you have this book? If not this won't be too helpful because the online version doesn't have this info. I'm not sure It sounds to me like your setup is most similar to Design 8 on page 293.

    Back to the grain as a potential source of lost efficiency, what does the crush look like?

    Hope the wit brew days goes smooth. Do you have a planned date yet?
  23. briggssteel

    briggssteel Apr 8, 2010 Ohio

    I do not have that book. Might be worth looking into though. You know the crush seemed fine but I wasn't looking all that hard because I assumed it was good to go. I'm going to start paying more attention to how it's crushed from now on though. We're not brewing it until next Saturday so I've got some time.
  24. sergeantstogie

    sergeantstogie Nov 16, 2010 Washington

  25. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Apr 17, 2008 Germany

    The part I was talking about isn't in the online version.
  26. porcelli426

    porcelli426 Oct 29, 2008 Colorado

    Yep, I have a Wit stalled at 1030 (from 1051) in the primary so I have been going through old post to see what I may have done wrong. Mashing at 154 must be it. I had a good starter, aerated with O2, and used pretty solid temp controls. I pitched a little cooler, 66 and let it warm up to 67-68 and when I saw the fermentation slowing too early I warmed up the carboy. I don’t think I had enough fermentables. That’s what I get for trying to brew a beer I don’t even like that much
  27. VikeMan

    VikeMan Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I don't know why your wit stalled at 1.030. But just mashing at 154F would not have had that profound an effect.
  28. chianski

    chianski Aug 26, 2008 Alberta (Canada)

    What yeast did you use? i came here to warn the OP that wyeast 3944 can take a while to ferment. it just goes slow and steady. i brew a witbier about 3 weeks a go, OG 1.053. after the first week was still around 1.030. After two weeks got just below 1.020 and by the third week got down to 1.008!!! 86 % attenuation!!. going to bottle this weekend, the samples are tasting great. pitched at 66 ,F left in a room at 70 F. probably fermented at 70-73 F most of the time. so just give it some time. and this was mashing at 153 F with a healthy starter.
  29. porcelli426

    porcelli426 Oct 29, 2008 Colorado

    I used WLP400 with a stirplate starter. I am going into week three, still at 1.030. Haven't given up, temp around 76 and I give it a good shake every other day. I hope its going very slow..
  30. porcelli426

    porcelli426 Oct 29, 2008 Colorado

    I don't know what else it would be. I accidentally milled the flaked wheat, my first time using it. maybe bad grain bill?
    2Row- 40%
    Flaked Wheat 40%
    C10 10%
    Wheat Malt 10%
  31. VikeMan

    VikeMan Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Nope. Well, that wouldn't be the way I'd build a wit, but it doesn't explain the low (or slow) attenuation either. If it's really stuck, I'd suspect a yeast issue.
  32. koopa

    koopa Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    If you keg your stalled wit and pitch some brett into the keg, you will have a more properly attenuated and delicious funky wit in 6 months :)

    The brewer/owner of Rushing Duck Brewing did that and I loved it.....

  33. porcelli426

    porcelli426 Oct 29, 2008 Colorado

  34. kjyost

    kjyost May 4, 2008 Manitoba (Canada)

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!