The Search for the Perfect Bavarian Hefeweizen

This is the product of about five years of experimentation and email stalking of German brewers so here goes the story.

Germans love rules.

The Reinheitsgebot is a great example.  The Reinhetsgebot is also known as the "German Beer Purity Law" in English, is the collective name for a series of regulations limiting the ingredients in beer in Germany and its predecessor states. The most well-known version of the law was adopted in Bavaria in 1516…. Germans love rules.

I have loved Hefeweizens for a long time, so as a home brewer sought to replicate the sheer joy that is smashing a Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen on a summers day. They were good but, they were just not right. So the research began.

The first thing I learned was that to really get the right mouth fell and taste you need to do a decoction mash, that’s what all the homebrew forums and books said, it was another German rule. Through a lot a stalking I made email contact with a brewer from Weihanstephaner. It turns out that they no longer follow a decoction schedule for their Hefes. In their modern brewhouse they use a step mash profile and a particular grain bill.

So a German rule is law, until it is superseded by another rule…..

The following recipe utilising the minimum percentage of wheat to be classified as a true hefe, to make something closer to Weihanstephaner’s classic you will need to n=increase the wheat share to 67%... But that has its own complications….


Mashing

Heat your strike water to 45°C, toss in the grain and you should end up with a rest temp of 43°C, this is the ferulic acid rest. 
Why do this? Well at this temperature (or thereabouts) ferulic acid production is maximised which leads to the production of 4-Vinyl-guaiacol (4VG) which is those lovely clove characters. The 50°C and 60°C provide you with a very fermentable wort, and the 70°C rest is your mash out step. If that all sounds a little too much like blah, blah, blah, simplify it to 40, 50, 60, 70°C and you will do just fine.

Mash Schedule

  • Heat strike water to 45°C add grain, hold for 10 mins.
  • Ramp to 50°C over ten minutes, hold for 30 mins.
  • Ramp to 60°C over ten mins, hold for 30 mins.
  • Ramp to 70°C over ten minutes, hold for ten commence sparge.

Chilling and Fermentation

Chill your wort and this gets you to the next rule. 

To make a well balanced (please read, not a banana bomb) Hefe follow the 30°C rule. This one is pretty easy, the pitching temperature plus the fermenting temperature must equal 30°C. Having made more than a few batches of these the combo I love is 13°C/17°C. Pitch at 13°C and let the wort free rise till 17°C over the first 24 or so hours. Once 17°C is established, hold for about 10 days. Test for FG around 1010 to 1012. Pitch one vial of White labs WLP 300, no starter, into the chilled wort. Oxygenate the wort and let it rip. Warning massive krausen is inbound. Leave plenty of headspace in your fermenter, or rig a blow off because this yeast is epic.

Keg the batch, and for the best results add 70g of dextrose and let it carbonate for a week. Then of course drink it fresh, after six weeks it should be gone!

 


Stephen Rowe
Bolt Action Brewing