#23P Single Wheat Experimental Batch (SWaSH)

Eureka, today’s post is about another SMaSH (single malt and single hop) experiment. The reason for doing this recipe was to find out how a single wheat malt beer would taste like and to find out whether it is possible to brew a 100% wheat beer in the first place. I therefore call this kind of beer SWaSH for single wheat and single hop. One problem with such a setup is the fact that wheat malt does not have husks as most of the barley malts. These husks are necessary for lautering with a perforated bottom to get a kind of filter bed. Without such husks one could imagine that the wheat malt plugs the perforated bottom and makes a lautering relatively hard or even impossible. However, I have no experience with a 100% wheat malt based beer and a perforated bottom. I chose to do a brew in a bag instead to circumvent the lautering with my perforated bottom. That’s basically the most exciting part abput this recipe:

Recipe: SWaSH
Numbers: Volume [L] 5 (1.32 gal)
Original gravity 12°P
Terminal gravity 4.8°P
Color Around 4 EBC
IBU 10 IBU
ABV 4%
Grains: Wheat malt (4 EBC) 1 kg
Hops: Tettnanger (4.2% AA) 3 g and boil for 60 min
Tettnanger (4.2% AA) 2.5 g and boil for 30 min
Yeast: Wyeast’s #3068 Weihenstephan
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 2.5 L (0.66 gal), sparge: 4 L (1.1 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @47°C (117°F), 45 min @45°C (113°F), 15 min @53°C (127°F), 30 min @63°C (145°F), 40 min @72°C (162°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 60 min
Fermentation: Primary 5 days @20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary N/A
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 4 with sugar addition (40 g sugar to 4.5 L beer)
Maturation time 14 days

02/26/2011: Brew day. I chose to do a small SWaSH batch with 1 kg of wheat malt and some Tettnanger hops. I then preheated the mash water up to 47°C and inserted the malt bag into the kettle and added the crushed wheat malt. I then did the rests as mentioned in the recipe and pulled the bag out after resting at 78°C for 10 min and washed the grains with the sparing water. By the way, the iodine test was negative. Boiled the wort for 60 min with the small hop additions and cooled the wort down to 20°C (68°F) and added 25 billion (2.5E10) yeast cells for 5 L of wort.

03/05/2011: Its bottling time. Five days after brew day I bottled the beer with some sugar to get a carbonation level of approximately 4.0 vol of carbon dioxide. I then left the bottles carbonate and mature for nearly 14 days at room temperature and then put the bottles in a refrigerator.

05/07/2011: The beer is now nearly two months in the bottles and its time for a tasting. I tasted the beer before but never did any tasting notes. I kind of forget to do tasting notes and when I do them most of the beers are already past their best-to-drink date…

Aroma: Lots of banana, no hop character and no malt character detectable. Smells like a traditional South German wheat beer.

Appearance: Pale yellow color, lots of carbon dioxide bubbles rise to the top and form a very creamy, white head. Very good head resistance. I added some of the yeast sediment to get the real wheat character.

Flavor: Not a lot is going on here. Banana again and some of the lightly sour, bread, grainy character of the wheat malt is detectable. And the yeast gives the beer the typical yeasty, doughy character.

Mouthfeel: Light body, lively carbonation. Rather short and sweet, malty aftertaste. Very refreshing.

Overall Impression: The beer is still fresh and very refreshing after some time in the bottle. Lots of the characteristic wheat beer character such as banana and the character you get from the wheat malt are present as well. Sure a well made beer. However, it is a bit boring…

It seems that a 100% wheat beer is possible to make and enough enzymes are present in the wheat malt for a complete mash conversion. What about the wheat malt? First of all, the beer tasted like expected. Rather one-dimensional and lots of the wheat malt comes through. Hops are in the background and some of the wheat yeast character comes through as well. That’s what I was going for in the first place with this experiment. At least I now know what the wheat malt can contribute to such a beer.

Comparing the flavor profile of this beer with other homemade wheat beers from the past and some commercial examples, going the extra mile with a 100% wheat malt beer does not seem to have a big impact on the beer. I therefore can’t see any advantages brewing a 100% wheat malt based beer compared to a wheat beer made with 50% wheat malt and 50% barley malt. Thanks for reading and commenting if you like and stay tuned!

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6 thoughts on “#23P Single Wheat Experimental Batch (SWaSH)

  1. I made one in February, but I went for something like a wheat pale ale than a traditional wheat beer. It was SMaSH red wheat malt and Fuggles fermented with US-05. It was going well until the end of the boil–I boiled off more than I normally do for some reason, and put maybe 0.6 US gallons out of the 1 gallon I intended. It was so strong as a result, something like a ‘wheat wine’ if there were such a thing (I didn’t measure OG or FG). After a while it just stank of acetaldehyde, rendering it undrinkable. I shuddered every time I tried to drink it. Oh well!

    I’d try it again, though, especially now that I see there is a crystal wheat malt available. The flavor of the wort was good, so I’d be very curious to see what can be done with it with more care.

    • Wheat wine sounds nice. I used crystal wheat before but can’t say anything about it since I used it alongside a bunch of other malts… Good luck with your next batch. By the way, let your wheat wine mature. The acetylaldehyde might fade away at some point.

  2. Sam, next time if you’re going to brew SWaSH, try to use some (Weyermann) Oak-Smoked Pale Wheat Malt. Search for Gratzer/Grodziskie recipe, essentially it’s 100% wheat, 3-4 % abv beer :). Thanks to ‘smoke’ (its level is quite softer, comparing to for ex. Schlenkerla Rauchbier ), that beer got nice, different character than other ‘wheats’ Use some weizen yeast and you’re set (original yeast is extremely hard to get) 🙂

    • I recently read about Grätzer and the smoked wheat malt. Unfortunately, I could not find a source yet to get some of this particular wheat malt. However, Lichtenhainer a beer made with the same oak smoked wheat malt and some sourness is not my cup of tea 🙂 I will keep my eyes open for the smoked wheat malt…. and the traditional yeast strain as well.
      I am currently playing around with some peat smoked pale malt which is really amazing and has a very distinctive character as well. Not the usual smoked ham character you get from the Weyermann’s Rauchmalz which gives the Schlenkerla its character
      Cheers, Samuel

  3. Interesting stuff, but I wonder what the SWaSH test would taste like if you used S-04 & S-05 for a “control” clean yeast and a more malt-forward yeast? I’d be interested to get a sense of pure wheat malt flavor. With a Weizen yeast, I’d expect banana-clove overload no matter what single malt was used. Still, it’s great to know that 100% wheat converts itself. Viva modification.

    • True a cleaner yeast would give the wheat character a chance to shine through. I could still detect the characteristic wheat malt character in this beer. Even in the presence of all the wheat yeast specific esters and phenolic compounds. Thanks for commenting, cheers Samuel

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