EX#7 – Von Smallhausen Hefeweizen


It seems strange that I’m only now attempting to brew a hefeweizen after two and a half years of home brewing. It’s one of my favourite styles with Erdinger’s Urweisse and Franciscan Well’s Friar Weisse being my favourites. I’d probably be lynched for saying I don’t care for Schneider Weiss but it doesn’t taste as clean as other examples of the style that I’ve tried. I also don’t like the murky brown colour of the beer.

I’ll be using a pretty simple extract method for this brew, my first extract beer in quite a few months. No specialty grains in this one, I’ll be relying on a vial of White Labs WLP300 to provide all of the flavour. This will necessitate making a 1.5 litre yeast starter using 150g of dried malt extract. I’ll be doing this 2 or 3 days before I plan on brewing. I’ve got 3kg of Brewferm Wheat extract, half of which will be boiled for 60 min with the second half added at flameout. (As it’s a canned product I don’t think there’s any need to sanitise it for 15 minutes as I would do with dried malt extract.) As for hops, I’ll be using Hersbrucker for bittering with a very small addition for flavour at the 15 minute mark.

My research indicates that temperature control is especially important for weizen yeast strains. Fermenting at the colder end of the scale tends to produce more phenols which give the beer a spicy clove flavour. Fermenting warmer produces more banana-like esters. Having no temperature control at my disposal, I’ll be happy to get something in the middle with this beer. Fermenting in the coldest room seems to be working well in this cold weather, so I’ll just hope for the best.

Yeast starter aside, this is the simplest beer I will have done for a long time. Prost!


Boil Size: 12.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 10.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 20.00 l
Bottling Volume: 20.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 7.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 13.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 0.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


0.350 kg Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM)
1.500 kg Brewferm Wheat Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)
21 g Hallertauer Hersbrucker [3.80 %] – Boil  Hop, 13.1 IBUs
1.0 pkg Hefeweizen Ale (White Labs #WLP300)
1.500 kg Brewferm Wheat Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)

Brewday – Wow, what a hassle-free brew day. I think I need to revisit extract brewing and get a few reliable extract recipes under my belt. Nothing to report apart from the colour of the Hersbrucker hops, a very vibrant green colour and they were the same after the boil which surprised me. Pitched the full 1.5 litre starter to make the volume up to just under the 20 litre mark in the fermenter.

18/02/2013 – Getting a bit worried about this now. It’s been in the fermenter for 2 weeks now and although I wasn’t seeing any bubbling going on (I don’t use an airlock) the kreusen looks like it’s still fermenting, i.e. it’s still frothy and bubbly on top, a huge layer. I’ve never seen a yeast take this long to finish. It’s fermenting at a max of 20 deg which although a bit high for a hefeweizen, does not explain it taking so long to ferment out. I just took a gravity reading and it’s at 1020, so I’ll take a reading again in a couple of days. Had a taste too and it’s got plenty of banana character and a little bit of bubblegum going on. All fine there, but it’s also seems quite astringent, just the large quantity of suspended yeast I hope.

19/02/2013 – After a bit more research online I’ve found that WLP300 is prone to slowing down and can be kicked off again by giving the FV a little swirl. I’ve just gently roused the FV with a sanitised spoon and moved to a warmer room.

20/02/2013 – I think there’s a bit more action coming out of the fermenter now. A few bubbles definitely creeping up through the kreusen. According to BeerSmith, I’ll have to be getting an FG of around 1.013 in order to consider this fully fermented out. There’s a rather disconcerting sour smell coming from the FV also, which I hope is just a character of the yeast while it’s fermenting. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be a little funky with a lot of people reporting huge volumes of sulphur.

25/02/2013 – I was dreading bottling this one and was putting it off for days, I think because I suspected it was going to turn out to be sour rubbish. But after having a taste from the fermenter, I’m pleased to say it’s fantastic. No doubt what style of beer you’re drinking with this one. Plenty of banana character and I think I get plenty of clove too, but it’s hard to tell at this stage. There was even a little sparkle in the sample I drank from the trial jar. It also attenuated further to 1.010. Happy days. I bottled with 250g dextrose (18l, 20C, 2.7 vol), I didn’t want to go overboard and end up with gushers.There was a tiny amount of trub in the FV but I intentionally left a litre of beer in the FV and swirled the yeast into it. The slurry was saved into two 500ml jars and are now sitting happily in the fridge. There’s definitely some hop pellet debris in the jars so I’ll chill these down for a few days before decanting the yeast out of both jars. I’ll then make a starter next time I want to do a wheat beer. Maybe even do a dunkelweizen next time. Probably the most troublesome fermentation I’ve had in the last two years but hopefully it will be worth it and it’s all a learning experience anyway. Got 34 bottle from the batch. Will sample a bottle after 4 weeks as hefeweizens are supposed to consumed when they’re fresh.

05/02/2013 – The yeast slurry separated into 3 distinct layers as expected. The residual beer, the creamy yeast slurry and the darker material including a fair amount of hop pellet residue. I decanted the creamy yeast slurry into another flask and I have about 400ml of that in total. Will make a starter for this in future brews. Next hef is going to be a partial mash affair. Even though they say a hefeweizen is one of the most satisfying beers to brew using extract method (provided you get your fermentation tempatures right) I want to see if there’s a difference when you add grains. I’ll probably add some specialty malts (say Munich or biscuit) aswell, just to do something different. I was toying with the idea of adding some late Amarillo, but I fear this might be experimenting too far, especially since it will be only my second hefeweizen.

02/03/2013 – First taste. Opened the first bottle and probably got too much yeast and sediment from the bottom of the bottle from swirling the glass. Big-ass banana flavour, the clove flavour is not very prominent but there’s some non-descript spiciness there. Opened a second bottle which was better because I added less yeast and sediment, but it looks more “kristall” than the first bottle. The beer is quite orange, similar to a Paulaner perhaps. There is a slight off-flavour (rubbery?) I’m getting that I’m hoping will dissipate with extended bottle conditioning. The liquid malt extract perhaps? Quite bitter.

27/06/2013 – I really should be stricter about posting updates on my mediocre or disappointing beers as I am on the good ones. I’ve got quite a few bottles of this left unfortunately. I was initially unsure about it, but I’ve had it confirmed at two separate homebrew meets at this stage – it’s not a great hefeweizen. It’s got bags of banana esters going on, far too much, even for a hefe. There’s also a little green apple (acetylaldehyde, I presume) in there which makes the beer a tiny bit astringent and throws off the balance even further. It’s not a huge challenge to drink, although I’d probably only drink one of them. The fermentation was sluggish to see the least and involved me warming up the fermentation which probably threw off a lot of those esters I’m tasting. I also neglected to aerate the wort which would have stressed the yeast even further. There’s also a possibility that my yeast starter had an inadequate cell count for some reason and caused further stress. Could this be because I used regular DME in the starter instead of wheat DME?

Pretty disappointed given that I shelled out 7 bucks for a vial of WLP400 on this. I chucked the yeast slurry as I’ve no desire to attempt this beer style again until I go fully all-grain and have proper temperature control. Some lessons learned.

07/09/2013 – Still quite a few bottles of this left. It’s actually not bad at all. I think a couple of months conditioning has actually softened the extremely strong esters in the beer. The banana character has dissipated somewhat, leaving quite a tasty beer. It’s actually not as thin-bodied as I thought previously. Decent mouthfeel actually. I’m not sure if you’d actually pick it out as a hefeweizen, but maybe a rather banana-like Belgian? The jury is still out on this one. I might bring it to a homebrewers meet and get some other opinions on it.

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