Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hefeweizen Perfection

I blogged a while ago about how I had invested in some more advanced homebrewing technology (or as Ali G. calls it - "techmology"). In short, I bought a gas-powered burner for outside and a 7.5 gallon kettle. The major difference is that instead of boiling three gallons and adding two gallons of water to it, I'm boiling all five gallons at once. Supposedly, this will result in better beer. As of now, I have tried two batches, and the question is: Are they better?

The first one is an English IPA. I've never made this style before, so I have nothing with which to compare. The only thing that I can say is that it's pretty damned yummy. Basically, an English IPA is a more mellow version of its American cousin (and no doubt closer to what the style was originally). Still, I can't tell if it's better than if I did the partial boil method. After all, I've made some pretty damned good beers that way as well.

The second, and most recent is an American Hefeweizen. Again, I haven't made this one before, but I have made Hefeweizen several times before. I've made the German ones, and they're basically the same only they tend to have more of a banana/clove aroma than the citrusy scent that you get from the American version. For the most part, I've enjoyed those, but they've never been quite to my satisfaction. While perfectly drinkable, they just didn't even come close to approaching the taste of the kinds that you can buy commercially. The main issues dealt more with the consistency and head retention than anything else. What about this new one though - the American version?

It's flippin' brilliant, to say the least. It's light in color. The head is thick and frothy. It has a citrusy smell. The yeast suspends nicely in the finished beer, creating a slightly cloudy appearance that you'd want in this style. Basically, if you'd hand me one of these and told me that it's a commercially bought beer, I wouldn't know the difference. It's been a while since I had one to compare, but it reminds me of North Coast Brewery's Blue Star. I've already promised a couple of these to some people, but honestly I'm not feeling too inclined to share! (I'm sure that will change once my next batch is ready).

What's next? I'm going to brew my American Red next weekend. That's always been a favorite amongst both me and my friends, and finally I'll have one that I can compare with the partial-boil method. A few weeks after that, my Munich Helles (basically Bavaria's version of a Pilsner - slightly more malty, slightly less hoppy) will be ready, which I actually brewed two weeks ago.

Why is it taking so long? Well, this one is a lager, which means that I'm fermenting it in my beer fridge at a consistent 50 degrees. In a week, I'm going to transfer it to another fermenter and then turn the temperature way down for at least a month. Then it's time for bottling and after a couple of weeks in the bottle, it should be ready to go. (I also went and bought some equipment to enable me to make lagers, including some equipment to make yeast starters, a secondary fermenter, and a temperature regulator for my beer fridge.)

In March, I plan on making a Maerzen, also known as an Oktoberfest. I'm going to store that one until about September before I finally bottle it. Who knows, maybe I might just have a little Oktoberfest here in Martinez. Lancetoberfest?

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