Brewer’s Best Witbier Kit
I’m always a season behind, so why wouldn’t I brew a Witbier just in time for Winter?
In broad terms, a Witbier (from “White Beer”) is a Belgian Style ale that’s usually pale and cloudy in appearance due to it being unfiltered and the high level of wheat, and sometimes oats, used in the mash. Witbiers are usually spiced with coriander, orange, and bitter orange peel, sometimes with additional spices.
Extract Kit Information
- 3.3 lb. – Bavarian Wheat Briess LME
- 1 lb. – Wheat DME
- 8 0z. – Flaked Wheat
- 8 oz. – Flaked Oats
- 1 lb. – Crushed 2 Row Pale Malt
- 1oz. – Willamette Bittering Hops
- 1 oz. – Sterling Flavoring Hops
- 1oz. – Spice Pack -Bitter Orange Peel & Coriander Seed
- Safbrew WB-06 Yeast
Brew date: June 27th, 2010 – Original Gravity – 1.028 (should be 1.045)
Secondary: July 20th, 2010
Kegged: August 28th, 2010 – Forgot to measure Final Gravity….
Steep-to-Convert & the Boil
This Brewer’s Best kit is the first I had used with what they call the “Steep-to-convert” process. They call the process a simplified version of mashing. You rely on the DME and LME for most of the sugars, but you steep-to-convert some malt and oats in order to give the beer the proper character, even for extract brewing.
I steeped the flaked wheat & oats and crushed 2 row pale malt in a grain bag for 45 minutes. I didn’t watch the temperature very well and was a little cool for part of the process (140°-145°). Better than being too hot, but I think I could have pulled more sugars if I’d been more careful.
The boil length for this Wit was a little shorter than some, clocking in at 55 minutes. 40 minute boil on the bittering hops, then the DME and Spice Pack were added. 5 minutes later, the flavoring hops were added. These were allowed to boil 10 minutes, then the boil was complete. The Spice Pack contained Bitter Orange Peel and Coriander Seed, 1/2 oz of each. I’m not sure why the DME was added with the spice pack. I’ll have to look in to that.
Yeast and Fermentation
I pitched the yeast at 80° after cooling the wort in a sink ice bath, then combining it with cool water in the fermenting bucket. After having bad luck about a year ago with yeast, I’ve had much better luck this year keeping it super simple. I wait for the wort to cool, then I pour the yeast on top of the wort in the fermenting bucket. I let the yeast sit on top for about 5 minutes, then I give it a pretty vigorous stir for a few minutes to air in some air. Maybe not the ‘best’ way, but it’s been working well for me.
Due to a lack of time, I let this brew sit in the primary for almost a month. Oh well… didn’t hurt anything.
Kegging the Witbier
I invested in a kegging setup! Instead of trying to squeeze that in with this write up, I’ve decided to post it separately so I can spend more time talking about my new kegging toys. Will link to that as soon as it’s posted!
Drinking & Evaluating the Witbier
Anyways, I’m slow to writing this, and the Witbier is practically gone, but I can say it was GREAT. I’m pretty sure I mucked up parts of the process on this one, especially the steep-to-convert, but it still made for great beer. My Wit is crystal clear, light, and crisp. It’s got the slightest tinge or orange and coriander to it, but it’s very slight. I’m pretty sure this beer is supposed to be cloudy, but mine isn’t. Still tastes great, and it’s easily one of the best beers I’ve made so far.
The Wit is a great crowd pleaser. It’s mild, light, and crisp with that tinge of orange. Even people who aren’t very adventurous with their beer drinking are okay with this one.
This kit called for Willamette Bittering hops and Sterling Flavoring Hops. Here’s some info I grabbed from Wikipedia.
Willamette: Popular American development in 1976 of the English Fuggle. Named for the Willamette Valley, an important hop-growing area. It has a character similar to Fuggle, but is more fruity and has some floral notes. Used in British and American ales. Substitutes: Fuggles. 4 – 6%
Sterling: American floral hop released in 1998. A cross between Saaz and Mount Hood in character but easier to grow. 6 – 9%