03 May 2008

The Next Homebrew...and the Next Chapter in Homebrewing

Yesterday, I started the next batch of St. Cecilia beer...a hefeweizen, timed to coincide with the arrival of summer in the Southern Appalachians. As I cannot resist a good pun, and have already titled my Dunkelweizen "Silvius Leopold WEISS (Dunkel)," it followed that the current batch would be called, again, Silvius Leopold WEISS (Hefe)."
And, because he's just that good (as is the current performer), here's another look -- or listen -- at the overlooked namesake genius:

Proof that beefy soccer jocks can also be incredibly sensitive interpreters of baroque music.

I also tried my hand at something new: rather than purchase a kit from Asheville Brewers Supply, complete with pre-selected ingredients and self-contained instruction sheet, I decided to delve into the wider world of recipes and ingredient purchase. The current batch is based on a "clone" recipe from a book I received for Christmas: Beer Captured by Tess and Mark Szamatulski. The source recipe is modeled on their interpretation of Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, one of the benchmarks of the style. Largely for the sake of trying something new, and seeing how there was no imminent trip to Asheville in sight, I ordered the ingredients from Northern Brewer, letting the UPS guy burn petroleum instead of me (as many of the ingredients I used come from the same exact source as those provided by ABS). I have departed slightly from the recipe as published, in terms of the priming/carbonation method: rather than use more dry malt extract, per the book method, I'm going to once again use my tried-and-true turbinado sugar method.

My only wonderment is the sheer simplicity of the recipe:

6 pounds of (Briess) dry wheat malt extract
1 ounce of Hallertau Herrsbrucker hops, added at the beginning of the boil
boiled in 2.5 gallons of water for 60 minutes
Cooled, added to primary fermenter containing 3 gallons cold water, pitch 1 vial of White Labs Hefeweizen liquid yeast.

I'm hoping that the minimalism of this recipe results in a pure, clean, subtle brew that would prompt my good buddy J-Wor to quip, "simple tools," rather than in an insipid, boring, tastes-like-wallpaper brew. We shall see.

I am unsure as to the Original Gravity of this one. In my ongoing battle against the hydrometer, I did something silly. I ended up being in quite a hurry to get it all finished and in the fermenter, as time crept up on me and Sara and I had a Community Chorus show to get to. In my hurry, along with sloshing quite a bit of wort onto the floor (again, have I mentioned how glad I am to be brewing in the basement?), I did my hydrometer gravity test of the wort BEFORE diluting it with all of the water. So, the reading came out to something astronomical, 1.106, which would yield an estimated ABV in the realm of 11%. Eek! Once I realized my error, I pondered how to calculate the correct diluted reading, since readings can't be taken once the yeast has been pitched.

Enter the computer age! Apparently there are a few software programs available to the homebrewer, designed to help track, sort, store, calculate, and otherwise aid the homebrewing enthusiast. After a tip and some discussion on the BeerAdvocate forum, I set off into the wild woods of the internets in search of a potentially helpful download-friendly executable file.
There are quite a few programs from which the uninitiated may choose. Keeping my eyes peeled for the magical word "Free," I first examined a program called Q-Brew. Let me tell you, not worth the 2 minutes it took to download. Q-Brew resided on my desktop for about 20 minutes before being expunged. I finally decided on taking advantage of the 21-day free trial offer from Beersmith. This program comes highly regarded and is, at least thus far, very user-friendly and versatile. Most importantly for the situation at hand, it also has a dilution calculator!
Entering in the digits, I find a corrected OG reading in the range of 1.050-1.053, right where it should be. Thus, depending on the final gravity, I should be looking at a hefeweizen with an ABV of 5.2%. Perfect.

And speaking of the internets, I also stumbed across this little gem. Wikiality, indeed.

And no, I do NOT, and will NOT, drink my weissbier with lemon or orange wedges. Gross. If you must commit such a travesty, I recommend this approach:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning BeerSmith! I hope you enjoy the program. We also started a homebrewing blog at http://beersmith.com/blog

We also started a brewing news site here where you can add your best blog articles: