Nick Carr on February 19, 2018 0 Comments Skip Ahead Grain Bill Extract Brewing Specialty Malts The Mash & Sparge Hops Fermentation Yeast Style Guidelines A modern-day throwback to the earliest German bocks, the Weizenbock style is a fortuitous beer with a long and complicated history. When it comes to brewing your own, you have lots of options to consider. If you’d like to try your hand at brewing a Weizenbock recipe at home, here’s a few tips to help guide you through the process. The Grain Bill Whether you are brewing a dark or pale version of this style, the first thing to consider is the amount of wheat you want in your recipe. The wheat used usually ranges up to 70% and almost always makes up at least 50 percent. In fact, German law forbids use of less than 50% wheat in their wheat beers. Now, obviously we are homebrewers, so there is nothing saying we can’t go less than 50 percent, but if you want to brew an authentic Weizenbock recipe, stick with at least 50% wheat. These days you even have a selection of different wheat malts to consider. Most maltsters, including the German malting company Weyermann, have pale wheat malt (1 to 3° Lovibond range) and dark wheat malt (15 to 20° Lovibond range). So, now you have your wheat. Where you go from here is going to depend on whether you are making a dark or light example of the style. Choose where you want to fall on the SRM color scale, and work towards that. A Weizenbock will range from 6 (deep gold) to 25 (ruby brown). Pilsner malt often makes up some portion of the bill, especially when shooting for something on the lower side of that color spectrum. Up to 25 percent can be used. Munich and/or Vienna add a complex mix of malty, toasty, and bready flavors to the recipe. For a pale version you may not want to venture more than about 10% between the two. But for a darker example, I’ve seen Weizenbock recipes that completely forgo the pilsner. Instead, use 50% wheat, a mix of Munich/Vienna at maybe 40%, and specialty grains to finish out the last 10 percent. All this to say, there is a lot of room for experimentation when brewing a Weizenbock recipe. Things will change just by varying the percentage of Munich to Vienna, as in the case above. Specialty Malts: There are quite a few specialty malts that can find their way into a Weizenbock recipe. It is for you to play and find what works for you. All of the following listed below could be part of the grain bill for a Weizenbock. Specialty Malts to Consider Medium Crystal (40-45°L) Chocolate Caramunich Honey Malt Pale Chocolate Carawheat Melanoidin Chocolate Rye Carahell Special B Chocolate Wheat Midnight Wheat Keep in Mind: Most Weizenbock recipes use only two or three specialty malts, and you will want to keep the specialty malt total below 10 percent. When using this much wheat it is always a good idea to use rice hulls as a lautering aid. This will help prevent a stuck sparge. Extract Brewing This style can be brewed using extract, though you will have to use some specialty malts at the very least to get close to the right complexity. Find a high-quality German wheat malt extract to make up 50 to 70 percent of your base. Depending on what you are going for, you could than add a German Pilsner extract and/or a Munich malt extract and/or Vienna malt extract. Choose from the above specialty malts to round out your grain bill, always keeping in mind the taste and aroma complexities found in the Weizenbock style. You will have to steep your specialty grains or, if you want to add further complexity, get about a pound of light (below 10°L) Munich or Vienna malt and do a mini-mash with your specialty grains. The light Munich and Vienna malts have enough diastatic power, a measurement of the enzymatic power of malt, to convert itself and the little bit of specialty grains you’ll be using. If the whole recipe decision making process is just too wide open for you, in his book Brewing Classic Styles, Jamil Zainasheff has a recipe which is a good starting point for either all-grain or extract. While every homebrewer should own this book, you can also view and download the recipe online through the American Homebrewer’s Association. The Hops Hops only make a bittering appearance in this style. Any hop aroma or flavor is considered inappropriate in a Weizenbock. Almost any good bittering hop could be used here, but if you want to stay a little more authentic to the style’s origins go with a German variety. Some likely choices are, of course, any of the noble hops, or any other Hallertau variety. You could also experiment with a variety that has a little higher alpha-acid, so you don’t have to use as much. Varieties to Consider Saaz Tettnang German Magnum Saphir Hallertau Mittelfruh Spalter German Northern Brewer Keep in Mind: You’re looking at 15 to 30 IBUs for bittering. Remember, the higher the starting gravity the closer you’ll want the IBUs to the upper range to balance. The Mash & Sparge The mash can be complicated or simple. If this is your first time brewing the Weizenbock style, I’d recommend just going with a simple single-step infusion mash at or just below 153°F. Regular middle of the road stuff here, nothing special. Though, you could throw in a protein rest at around 122°F to help break down the excessive protein in the wheat. If you want to try something different, make your brew day longer and more complex, and do it the traditional way a decoction mash is what you’re looking for. I know, I really sold it, didn’t I? I’m not trying to scare you away from decoction mashing, but it can be tricky and frustrating. The results though, can make the whole thing worthwhile… if everything goes right. I’m not going to go into full detail here about decoction mashing because there are plenty of articles out their dealing, in detail, with the subject. But, simply put, decoction mashing is taking a portion — usually 1/3rd — of your mash, heating it and adding it back into your mash to “step-up” the mash temperature. Boiling a portion of the mash increases Maillard reactions, increasing malty complexity. Decoction mashing can increase attenuation slightly and help break down the complex starches too. Some brewers will tell you decoction mashing is a waste of time because it harkens back to a time when we had less modified malt. Others will tell you it is the only way to do certain styles justice, especially some German and Czech styles. I’m not going to try and convince you one way or the other. The best way to learn if decoction mashing adds something to your personal taste that cannot be had through a single or multi-step infusion is to try both with the same recipe. You may want to consider designing your weizenbock so you don’t have to sparge, especially when shooting for the upper limits of the styles’ starting gravity range. This means you only get the sweetest wort with no dilution. It’s not necessary, but something to consider. Though, realize that this will likely mean a smaller batch size unless you have equipment that can handle the extra volumes. The Boil Your boil will range from 60 to 90 minutes. If you’re using pilsner malt, we’ll want to increase the boil to 90 minutes. This will help get rid of more of the precursor to DMS. Also, rememeber to let your wort boil vigorously and uncovered. Throw your bittering hop addition in 60 minutes before flame out. The Yeast Any good German Weizen Ale yeast will do the trick for a Weizenbock recipe. Here’s a few options to help get you started. White Labs Wyeast Dry Organic Hefeweizen Ale (WLP300) Weihenstephan Weizen (3068) Mangove Jack’s Bavarian Wheat (M20) Imperial Yeast Stefon (G01) Bavarian Weizen (WLP351) Bavarian Wheat (3638) Danstar Munich Wheat (link) Fermentation Pitching rate, aeration rates, and fermentation temperatures are going to depend a lot on what you want the finished beer to taste like. Each of these three factors will either increase or decrease the banana esters and spicy clove phenols characteristic of German weizens. Here Are A Few General Considerations: The higher the pitching rate along with higher aeration rates will produce lower levels of banana and other fruity esters and spicy phenols. A lower fermentation temperature produces a cleaner profile, meaning less esters, less phenols. As the fermentation temperature increases ester and phenol production increase, but above 70°F or so other fruity esters (beside banana) may begin to decrease. Personally, I would not worry too much about varying your pitch or aeration rate, especially if this is your first time making a Weizenbock. But, decide on a fermentation temperature regimen that will give you more or less clove/banana, depending on what you’re after. Note that too much of either is usually considered a fault in any German Weizen style. A good first-time-brewing-method is to start your fermentation cool around 62°F and let it naturally rise over a couple days to right around 70°F. This will give you moderate amounts of both spice and banana. This beer can be quite cloudy due to the amount of wheat used, so you may want to use some sort of clarifying agent or you can allow it to drop clear over time by lagering it. Weizenbocks are usually carbonated quite high, so when it comes time to bottle or keg your newly finished brew shoot for 2.5 to 3 volumes. Weizenbocks’ rich malty profile and higher alcohol content make them good candidates for aging. Though it might be hard to save them for any amount of time, I’d suggest you save a couple of bottles for the holidays. The style lends itself well to the winter warmer, and who’s gonna say no to an elegant bottle of homebrew waiting for them under the tree. Cheers!