Maibock Homebrew Recipe from Mashmaker • Illustration of Michael Dawson by D.Witt
The best songs will never gets sung/The best life never leaves your lungs.”
Wilco was right: Everything exists in a quantum state of perfection as long as it remains only pure potential. A glimmer in the eye. An unfermented maltose molecule. It’s only after we choose a fork in the road—an observable, fermentable one—that it collapses into A or B, this or that, banana or clove.
Traditional weissbier (aka hefeweizen) is a pale-ish, cloudy ale made from at least 50% malted wheat. The remainder of the grain is malted barley with most of that being pale, light Pils malt. Add some German hops, shoot for 5 percent ABV—pretty standard fare so far.
But it’s the yeast that truly makes a weissbier. I’m calling for the most widely used strain in its native Bavaria, available at your LHBS as Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan. Besides being uber-traditional, this weissbier is also an exploration of the mutability of beer yeast.
During fermentation, this strain produces the classic “clove” phenol (4-vinyl guaicol, or 4VG if you’re nasty) and “banana” ester (isoamyl acetate) requisite of true weissbier. The amount and proportion of each is a chance for you get all Dr. Moreau with your yeast, tweaking and dialing the sensory profile to your exacting specifications.
For a banana-forward weissbier—think Hacker-Pschorr Weisse—try a single-temp infusion mash, a low pitch rate, a warm fermentation temp (mid 70s°F), and if possible a fermenting vessel that’s wider than it is tall, for a shallow depth of liquid.
For a higher clove presence—like Schneider Weisse—we’ll do a multi-temp mash that includes a ferulic acid rest, to liberate some 4VG precursors from the wheat. We will want to increase the amount of yeast pitched (with a starter, natch), aim for a cooler fermentation temp (low to mid 60s°F) and ferment in a taller, narrower vessel.
If you want to walk a middle path and balance out the ester and phenol character, pitch a healthy amount of yeast and ferment in the mid to upper 60s°F. Ready?Your Content Goes Here