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Brewer’s Best Dunkelweizen

This batch will be my last kit beer for a while.  After months of thinking about it, I’ve finally taken the next step in to All Grain brewing.  It seemed like such a big step to take, but now I’m wondering what the heck took me so long…

It’s only fitting that I end my kit run with a repeat of the most popular beer I’ve made to this point.   A Dunkelweizen!

Even though this year’s Dunkel was a repeat, it actually differs a bunch from the kit and process I used last year.  Most interestingly is the use of totally different hops this time around.  Last year the kit included Vangaard bittering hops and Argentine Cascade aroma hops, but this year was Willamette bittering hops and German Spalt Select for aroma.  Another major difference is the yeast.  My original yeast last year was dead, and I replaced it with a Windsor yeast.  This year the kit came with Danstar’s Munich yeast.

Even with all the differences, certain elements were common with this year’s recipe.  The LME was still Briess Bavarian Wheat, there is a pound of Maltodextrin, and the specialty grains are the same (crushed Chocolate & crushed Munich).

Extract Kit Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6.6 lb. Briess Bavarian Wheat LME
  • 1 lb. Maltodextrin
  • 8 oz. Crushed Chocolate
  • 8 oz. Crushed Munich Malt
  • Danstar Munich Yeast
  • 1 oz. Willamette Bittering Hops – 4.7% alpha acid
  • 1 oz. German Spalt Select Aroma Hops – 2.2% Alpha Acid
  • 5oz. Priming Sugar

Additional Details

  • SG 1.062
  • FG 1.022
  • 5.3% ABV
  • Brewed 10/24/10, Secondary 11/09/10, Kegged 11/29/10

Brewing the Dunkelweizen

After almost two years of making Brewer’s Best kits, I’ve got the process down pretty well.  That’s not to say I don’t get distracted and lose track of things occasionally… but it still makes beer when it’s all said and done!

The Dunkel starts out by steeping your specialty grains, in this case chocolate and munich.  For this batch I heated the steeping water to about 160°, then added my grain bag.  The heat ended up getting a little warmer than that, so I let the temp cool…then over cool, so I heated the water back up and extended my steeping time by a few minutes.  I get distracted…

After the grain bag is removed, it’s time for the boil.  As soon as you’ve got a gentle, rolling boil, it’s time to add the LME and Maltodextrin.  Stir until everything is dissolved and return to a boil.

Next up are the hop additions.  I added my bittering hops with 40 minutes left on the boil, then added my aroma/flavoring hops at the 20 minute mark.

After the 60 minute boil had completed, I moved the wort to my sink ice bath, letting the temps come down to around 90°.  As the wort is cooling, I fill my sanitized fermenting bucket with a couple of gallons of cold water.  Cold water will help cool the hot wort, so you can combine the liquids a little sooner.  I strain my wort with a sanitized wire mesh strainer to remove the hop pieces.  Once the wort is in the bucket, I fill it up to the 5 gallon mark with more cold water.  This is a good time to take a hydrometer reading.

Once your wort temperature is down to about the 70’s, you’re ready to add your yeast.  Rehydrating the yeast is said to be the best bet, but it’s also a great way to kill the yeast if you’re not careful.  I’m all about sprinkling the yeast directly on to the wort.  I let it hydrate on top of the wort for about 10 minutes before I give it a good stir to help aerate it.  Once you’ve capped the fermenter you should shake or rock the fermenter for a few minutes to further aerate the mixture.  (I didn’t do this for my Dunkel… it’s something I’ve just recently learned about).

Fermentation & Kegging

I let this batch sit in the primary for about 2 weeks, then I racked it over to my secondary, where I let it sit for about 3 weeks.  A person could speed this process up, but I just usually do it when I have the time.

Racking over to the secondary went fine, as did the kegging.  This is the 4th beer I’ve kegged instead of bottled.  It’s GREAT.  So easy to rack from the secondary to the (sanitized) keg instead of a bunch of bottles.

Drinking the Dunkelweizen

The 2009 Dunkel was possibly the best batch I’d made in two years of brewing.  I opted to brew the same kit in 2010 in hopes of repeating that success.   Did I?  Not really.

This year’s Dunkelweizen doesn’t really have many of the qualities that made the ’09 so great.  The brew is a little sweeter, and maybe a little maltier.  The flavor is okay, but not really the same as last year’s beer.  Not to say it’s bad, but it’s not ‘quite’ right.  I was able to do a side by side comparison with my last bottle of the ’09, and my suspicions were validated.  The current Dunkel just isn’t as good.  But why?

I think the hop additions this year made a big difference.  Without realizing it, I’ve been using Willamette hops in EVERYTHING lately, and I think I might be sick of them.  My Witbeir used Willamette for bittering, the Frankenbeer was dry hopped with Willamette, the Pumpkin Okto used it for bittering and aroma, and now this one.  I’ve got a full fridge of beers hopped with the same type of hop…  Not recommended.

Aside from my Willamtte overexposure, I think the yeast is also a factor here.  If you check out my writeup for last year’s batch, I compared the yeast I used with the one that came with the kit.  Though they sound similar, I think the one from last year may have produced a little dryer and cleaner beer.

My third theory is my fermentation temperatures.  What were they?  Great question…  I’ve rarely paid much attention beyond trying to hit about 68°, but looking over some of my recent batches, I think I’ve been fermenting a little too warm.  I’ve worried about my cold house slowing fermentation, but I think I’ve created warmer temp’s that have created lesser beers.  Warmer fermentation temps can create additional esters, and less ‘clean’ beers.  I’ll be updating this theory over my next few batches.

Apparently I’m long winded today, but I’ll wrap it up.  Was this year’s Dunkelweizen a failure?  Not at all.  Would I make this recipe again?  No.  If you’re thinking about trying out a Dunkelweizen, I’d suggest creating a recipe similar to what I made in ’09.  If you’ve got a local homebrew shop, you should be able to buy the ingredients separately.

This is my last kit beer for a while.  Stay tuned for my entry in to All Grain Brewing!

 

{ 4 comments }
  • Andrew February 22, 2011, 1:03 pm

    I am in the middle of brewing the same kit. I decided to upgrade the yeast to the White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen yeast, and made a 1 liter starter the day before. Hopefully it turns out great.

  • Jeremy February 22, 2011, 1:49 pm

    I’d love to hear how the yeast swap works out for you. I’ve heard that liquid yeasts are a great idea for Hef’s especially. Let us know how your beer turns out!

  • Jack February 26, 2011, 3:56 pm

    Hey Jeremy,
    I just got back from my local home brew store and bought the Dunkelweizen, same exact kit as your #16.
    I read your posting on the difference between batch #8 and #16, my question to you or anyone else is do you think #8 was better because it had to go through an aging process for bottling for several weeks instead of a few days when you keg? Food for thought or in our case Beer for thought!
    My red has been in the bottle now for 11days think I will pop the top on one and see.
    Fermenting is American Creme Ale now for 5 days.

  • Jeremy March 2, 2011, 10:49 am

    Aging shouldn’t be an issue, as I leave the beer in the secondary for quite a while, then in a keg for quite a while as well. I’ve still got this beer kegged and it hasn’t’ changed at all over time.

    The hops and yeast used for these are quite a bit different, so it would make sense that they should taste quite a bit different. I am also quite sure that I fermented too warm, as I think the beer tastes a little “hot”.

    I blame me & ingredients on this one.

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