Brewer’s Best Dunkelweizen : Batch 8
Winter is a great time for brewing. It’s a great time to experiment with some darker beers. Even novice beer drinkers will often be a little more daring toward darker beer when the weather is colder. I’d been wanting to brew a Dunkelweizen since I started brewing, but hadn’t found time. Now is that time!
Dunkelweizens aren’t the most commonly found beer in America, but I’m a huge fan. I think they tend to be pretty similar to a Brown Ale in flavor, but they’re technically a dark Wheat Beer. Dunkel means dark in German (as opposed to weiss, which means white) and Weizen means wheat. A Dunkelweizen, generally has the same banana and clove notes of a wheat ale, but also has chocolatey, roasted flavors from the addition of dark malts.
Ingredients, Brewing, and Fermentation
Enough with the details, let’s get to the brewing! I made this batch with a Brewer’s Best Dunkelweizen kit. Ingredients included – 6.6 lb. Wheat LME, 1 lb. Maltodextrin, 8 oz. Chocolate Malt, 8 oz. Munich Malt, 5 oz. Vanguard Bittering Hops, 1 oz. Argentine Cascade Aroma Hops, and Munich Danstar Yeast.
This batch of brew was started on November, 29th. I started by steeping the grains for about 23 minutes at 150-160 degrees. I continued by adding in the LME and Maltodextrin, then the hops. Let that boil for about 40 minutes, then added the flavoring hops for the last 20 minutes (per the instructions). I ended up with a wort with an OG reading of about 1.057.
I got the yeast started in a glass of water toward the end of my boil, cooled my wort in a sink ice bath, then poured the cooled wort into 3 gallons of cool water in my fermenting bucket. I added in the yeast, gave it a quick stir, put the cap on and set it aside to let it do it’s thing. The only problem… it didn’t. After 48 hours there was still no action. My second batch in a row that didn’t go! I’m wondering if I didn’t let the wort cool enough, or if activating the yeast in water may be working against me. I really don’t know if this was my fault or I somehow managed to find 2 dead packets of yeast in a row. Either way, I got a new packet of yeast from my homebrew shop.
Here’s where things get interesting. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but the replacement yeast packet I was given was a Windsor yeast packet from Danstar. I didn’t think much of it, took it home, and dropped it in my fermenter. This time everything started working as expected. (check out my yeast notes at the end of this write-up)
I ended up letting the fermentation process go 12 days. I needed a couple extra days because of the dead yeast, and I like to let it go at least 7-10 days. I checked my FG as I racked to the secondary. Using my favorite beer calculator, my Final Gravity of 1.026 means my alcohol content is about 4.1%.
After 11 days in the secondary, I bottled my Dunkelweizen. I slacked this time around, using 6 Growlers, 6 big bottles, and 14 normal bottles. I know a lot of people are concerned with growler grenades, but I haven’t had a single one yet. Lucky, maybe.
Drinking the Dunkelweizen
As I always do, I cracked a Dunkel open after only a week. Not a matured beer but already this beer was GREAT. Currently (about 8 weeks later), the Dunkel is honestly my favorite beer I have brewed so far. The coffee and chocolate flavors are dominant, but the wheat base makes it finish great. It’s not a ‘chewy’ beer like a stout or porter might be. I think it’s got flavors similar to the Brewer’s Best Brown Ale, but it’s been almost a year since I brewed that one. This Dunkel is a great stepping stone for people who don’t necessarily go for darker beers. I’d highly suggest this one.
Random Facts and Answers
- This recipe was my first to call for Maltodextrin. I did some looking, and it turns out that Maltodextrin powder, derived from corn, is usually used to add body to malt extract beers. It’s a non-fermentable sugar, so it does not add alcohol.
This recipe used Chocolate and Munich Malts. Chocolate is really common, but I had a hard time finding info on the Munich grains. Here’s what I found:
- Chocolate Malt – Use in all beer styles for color adjustment. The rich roasted coffee, cocoa flavor is very complementary when used in higher percentages in Porters, Stouts, Brown Ales, and other dark beers. Sharply pungent roasted taste.
- Munich – Sometimes called Aromatic. A Munich malt contributes some amber color and residual sweetness and yet is still very much a fermentable grain. Ideal for Oktoberfest beers, Dunkels & Helles beers. It will add a deeper color, fuller malty flavor, and aroma to your brew.
I ended up using a Windsor yeast instead of the suggested Munich yeast. I did a little looking, and here’s the basic difference:
- Munich – Aroma is estery to both palate and nose with typical banana notes. Does not display malodours when properly handled. Munich yeast has found widespread use in the production of German Weizen and Hefeweizen. Fermentation temperatures above 72 degrees will enhance banana flavors, below will enhance clove flavors.
- Windsor – The aroma is estery to both palate and nose, and is usually described as a full-bodied, fruity British ale. Does not display malodours when properly handled. Windsor yeast has found great acceptance in producing strong-tasting bitter beer, stout, weizen and hefe weizen.
Next up – Holiday Ale
Previous batch – Russian Imperial Stout