Need a perfect summer drink that’s refreshing and light? Hefeweizen, a Bavarian-style, light-colored and cloudy beer. It is a type of German Weiss beer (white beer). ‘Hefe’ translates to yeast, weizen means ‘wheat’. It is light and citrusy, with around 5 % alcohol by volume. Hefeweizen is brewed from less than 50% wheat while being characterized by a banana, clove taste, sometimes vanilla or bubblegum aroma. This style originated around the 1520s in southern Germany. The ‘Purity Law’, allowed ingredients barley, hops, and water (yeast had not been discovered at this time) to brew beers, this hindered its popularity.
Are you team German or American hefeweizen?
The Bavarian yeast is used because it is lowly flocculant thus the cloudy on top. In typical beer, the bitterness is prominent, while the hefeweizen is mild to less. The malt sweetness is low to medium-low, made from 50% malted wheat. The body of the beer is medium or full, but the characteristics of the drink are defined as clove, banana.
Compared to the German style, the American is its own kind. In Portland’s Dublin Pub, Rob and Kurt Widmer, two brothers were working or rather asked to create a new beer by the owner. The choices in the 1980s were dark or light beer, the owner wanted a variety. The brothers created a Weizenbier, unfiltered and cloudy with limited equipment. The hefe (yeast) used here was ale strain (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), this gave the desired appearance but not the flavor. The citrusy taste was achieved with the use of cascade hops which makes it bitter compared to the German.
The right Hefeweizen is Torulaspora delbrueckii, the Bavarian strain. The products in this fermenting are phenols and esters, this is the cause of the banana, nutmeg, clove, and bubblegum flavors. The clove, banana flavor can be reduced by over pitching, reducing the ester. Alcohol tolerance of the German strain is nearly 10%. The cloudy appearance is due to low flocculation. They diminish between 72-81%, dry yeast goes more. For Hefeweizen yeast to ferment, the temperature lies between 63-78 F (17-25° C). Compared to other wheat beers which are complex, the Hefeweizen is refreshingly light.
The Hefeweizen is unfiltered and mostly bottled conditioned, the yeast inside remains in the bottle making the beer rich and the carbonation natural. The special ale yeast used in traditional German Hefeweizen is the reason for the ‘flavors’.
5-gallon brewer pot
Ice for an ice bath
Wheat: red wheat (winter wheat) or white wheat can be used. It does not brew deep red or copper.
Hop: hefeweizen is more about wheat and yeast. Use a less bitter with low acidic content. The fruity flavors must shine.
Water: water can be soft to moderate hard with a pH of 5.2 to 5.6.
- 5 lbs wheat Malt extract
- ½ flaked wheat
- ½ lb flaked oats
- 1 oz hallertau hop pellets
- White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen ALe
- Fill 5 gallons of brew pot with water. Let it boil.
- On a medium flame, add the hop to the wort. Set timer for 45 minutes. Pour in the wheat malt extracts. Boil the wort for 60 minutes.
- Remove the wort mixture from the heat. For adding the yeast, cool the mixture to 44-45 F. Make an ice bath and place the brew pot in it.
- Sanitize the fermenting equipment. Fill the fermenter bucket with 2 gallons of cold water. Pour the cooled wort into the bucket.
- Aerate the wort, place a lid on top and shake it. Carefully with clean equipment add the yeast to the fermenting bucket and seal it.
- For fermenting the ideal temperature is between 63- 78 F (17- 25° C). Takes about 1- 2 weeks.
- Enjoy your Hefeweizen.
- Keep the equipment around the yeast clean.
- Keep the water pH.
- This recipe uses malt extracts but feels free to use whole grains.
- The fermenting temperatures are very necessary.
- Appearance: pale gold but very cloudy, champagne-like.
- Aroma: mild vanilla or bubblegum smell.
- Flavor: balanced clove and banana; fruity undertones.
- Taste: citrus, banana, clove taste. Bitterness, very mild or low.
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