Today we will start with a classical Belgian Wit beer, a cousin of the Bavarian Weissbier. Having a strong aroma from the high-fermenting yeast, combined with it’s typical spiciness of orange peel, this light beer is perfect as a session brew, a refreshment or a versatile beer to pair with many dishes. This recipe will produce a beer that is very similar to the popular brands of Hoegaarden Wit and Kronenbourg Blanc.
We start off with 2.3 kg of wheat malt and 2.3 kg of pale ale malt
We aim for 25 liters of final volume of beer, so all the amounts of ingredients are adjusted to that. If you have an option to select how fine the malt is crushed (either at a brewing shop or if you have a malt mill of your own), try to not have it that finely ground. Some coarseness of the grain is preferable.
First of we start by warming up 11.5 liters of clean water in our brewing kettle. Now many beginners can get stressed about water quality. Please don’t. As long as it is clean and does not have any additions of chlorine or similar chemicals, you’ll be fine. Our aim is to get the mash up to 65 ° C. But since the malt tends to sink down the temperature a few degrees, it is wise to keep the water around 69 ° C before putting in the malt.
Pour in the malt. Make sure there are no lumps by moving your brew paddle around. Don’t mix and wiggle the paddle around too much; this can result in release of tannin (the one found in wine), we don’t want that. When you have ensured that all the malt is properly immersed, leave it for one hour. During that hour, check the temperature from time to time. If it is a few degrees above or below 65 ° C, don’t freak out and crank the heat up all the way. Keep calm, stability in temperature is way more important than having the perfect display on your thermometer.
The mash is pretty solid and the thermometer stands almost on its own. Make sure that you don’t put the end of thermometer all the way down. That way you will be too close to the heat source and thus get a wrong measurement. Stick it all the way down, lift it up a bit and you’re good to go. Also watch out for any steam vents that form in the mash, mix them up if you see one. That way the heat will distribute in best way possible, and you will get out the maximum yield.
Don’t idle around while the mashing is going on! Save some time by boiling some water ahead of sparging. In our case we will need 20 liters. However, some of the fluid is going to be sucked up by the malt (it gets pretty wet and heavy) so it is best to be on a safer side and boil 24 liters. The perfect temperature for sparging water is between 74 and 77 ° C. Anything hotter than that may in turn release tannin.
Take your paddle and use it as a tool to evenly distribute the hot water, and that way get the best yield.
Release the valve and you got nice and light wort flowing.
I mean look at this frothy beauty. If it was only possible to upload smells to a blog.
While sparging, keep a slow pace by sometimes closing off the valve and letting the water sit for a while in the kettle. I used my ale pail to gather the wort in it for sparging, which both serves as temporary vessel now and as a fermentation vat later. Once this is done and you have gotten yourself around 26-28 liters of wort, you are ready to remove the malt bucket, and pour the wort back into the kettle again. And now we are ready for boiling.
Set the kettle on maximum and once the froth forms on top and it starts to boil, add 32 grams Saaz of hops. Saaz is the German name for the Czech town of Žatec, where this sort of hops has its origin. A very light and floral variety, this type has an alpha acid only of 3 % which gives off very little bitterness and a nice floral tone to the beer. We add it only at the start of the boil and that will be the only hops that we will ever use in this beer. The total boiling time is 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Once there is 10 minutes left of the boil, lightly crush 25 grams of coriander seed in pestle and mortar, and 25 grams of bitter, dried orange peel. This will go nicely together with the sweetness of the wheat malt, floral tones of the Saaz hops and the different aromas produced by the yeast. Once the last 10 minutes of the boil are done, use and immersion cooler to cool the wort down to 24 ° C.
Once it is cooled down, pitch the yeast. I used Mangrove Jack’s Belgian ale yeast which will be wonderful for this type of beer. Completely disregarding nerds that tell people to make a yeast starter three days before brewing, I just sprinkle the yeast directly into the wort and shake it well (remember, your yeast need lots of oxygen to do a proper job). The perfect temperature for fermentation would be 20 ° C. The recipe asks for 24, but all the initial activity will generate a bit of heat so keeping my room around 20 ° C will be perfect. This is a recipe that I have used many times but I am excited as ever how it will turn out a couple of weeks later.