Nick Carr on December 1, 2017 0 Comments Table of Contents The History of Weizenbock Style Profile & Characteristics Examples of the Style How to Brew Weizenbock Recipe History of Weizenbock The modern Weizenbock style could be called a serendipitous combination of a Weissbier and a doppelbock. Much like any other wiezenbier, it uses a large portion of wheat in the recipe and top-fermenting wiess yeast, but it has the richly layered maltiness and strength of the bottom-fermented doppelbock. But interestingly, the Weizenbock we know today is really just a throwback to the earliest bocks. The early bocks, first brewed in Einbeck in the 1300s, where lower in alcohol, but included wheat as part of their grain bill and were top fermented at cooler temperatures, making them true forerunners of the style. When bock brewing largely shifted to Munich in the 1600s, brewers there changed the recipes and processes to reflect their own brewing practices. They dropped the wheat entirely and replaced the top fermenting ale yeast with bottom fermenting lager yeasts. In the span of some three years that followed, this style was not brewed much (though Ron Pattinson has posted data from several brewed during the 19th century: note that they all still have lower alcohol than the modern guidelines). But, in 1907 an ingenious business move by the Schneider Weisse Brauhaus in Munich would bring a modern retelling of this style to life. The Fall of Wheat Beer In 15th century Bavaria, the brewing of wheat beer was completely controlled by the aristocratic family Degenberger. Wheat beer was much loved by the aristocracy and access to it was restricted to those in a higher social class. It was so loved by those of privilege that it was exempt from the Reingeitsgebot purity law, passed in 1516. In 1602, the Degenberger family line ended without a true heir. The privilege of brewing wheat beer was transferred to the Duchy of Bavaria and the ruling house of Wittelsbach; incidentally, the authors of the Reingeitsgebot. The monopoly on wheat beer would remain in the hands of House Wittelsbach for another 265 years. The changes to the bock style that took place in Munich could be considered a bad omen, the whispered knell of waning popularity coming for wheat beer. However, its decline was slow and weissbier remained highly esteemed through to the 18th century. But, by the turn of the century no one could deny the momentum of dark lagers. The toll on weissbier was all too obvious. By 1812, there were only two weizen breweries still operating in Munich and, in 1872, the King Ludwig II, of the Wittelsbach House and current ruler of Bavaria, discontinued all wheat beer brewing due to the sharply declining sales. This could have been the end of Bavarian weissbier, but Georg Schneider had different ideas. Georg Schneider was a private brewer who had taken over the contract at the royal Bavarian Weisses Hofbrauhaus in Munich in 1855. He went to King Ludwig II and negotiated for the right to continue brewing wheat beer. King Ludwig II agreed to sell him the rights, and for the first time in its long history the “Weissbierregal” (the right to brew wheat beer) passed to a commoner. Wheat Beer Saved and the Rise of Weizenbock Why exactly Georg Schneider did this is unclear. He must have truly believed the weizenbier tradition would have a resurgence, to fly in the face of what must have clearly looked like the writing on the wall for Bavarian wheat beer. The company he founded, G. Schneider & Sohn, was run by father and son until they both died in 1890. During those 18 years they managed to build a good following and increase their output considerably. After their deaths, the brewery was passed to Georg the III, who was barely 20 years old at the time. He continued to expand, even going as far as to trademark their brand “Schneider Weisse.” In 1905, Georg III died, and his wife Mathilde took over as director of operations. In a brilliant business move, she looked at the brewing landscape and exploited two distinct trends. She took the renewing popularity of wiessbier and combined it with the seasonal popularity of lager fermented doppelbocks. In 1907, the brewery put their Weizenbock Aventius on the market. It is named for Bavarian historian Johannes Aventinus, who wrote the Annals of Bavaria, a series of seven books chronicling the history of Bavaria up to 1460. The brewery is still family owned, now with its sixth generation of Schneider at the helm, and Aventinus continues to be a highly regarded example of the Weizenbock style even today. Style Profile & Characteristics The guidelines for the Weizenbock style are set by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Committee. The below details are a summary of what a Weizenbock should represent. Quick Characteristics Color Range: 6 – 25 SRM Original Gravity: 1.064 – 1.090 OG Final Gravity: 1.015 – 1.022 FG IBU Range: 15 – 30 ABV Range: 6.5 – 9.0% Appearance: Ranges from honey amber to dark reddish brown. Thick foam head that ranges from off-white or tan. Possibly cloudy. Aroma: Complex aroma. Malty wheat will be heavy on the nose. Notes of toast and caramel possible. No hop aroma. Full spectrum of yeast character possible. Flavor: Complex and rich malt profile dominates, ranging from sweet to toasty. Recognizable wheat richness. Notes of caramel, banana, vanilla or clove. No hoppy flavor, but may add bitterness. Dry finish. Mouthfeel: Carbonation should be moderate to high. Creamy and full body. Mild warmth from alcohol. Serving & Storage Temperature: 48 – 50°F Shelf Life: Several Years Suggested Glass: Weizen or Snifter Glass Food Pairings: Game Meats. Grilled Chicken. Pork Chops. Grilled Veggies. Bierkäse & Smoked Gouda. Apple Strudel. German Chocolate Cake. The BJCP classifies the Weizenbock beer style under category number 10, “German Wheat Beer” and it can be found in the guidelines as sub-category (10C). Other beer styles under this category include: Weissbier (10A), Dunkles Weissbier (10B). Appearance: There are both pale and dark versions of the Weizenbock style. The dark versions will be somewhere between a dark amber to a dusky reddish brown, while the pale version should fall somewhere between a sun-touched golden to a honeyed amber. Style should have a thick, almost moussy, and very long-lasting head. Head on pale versions are white to slightly off-white, while the darker versions should carry a light tan head. This is a traditionally unfiltered style so cloudiness is expected, especially with the high protein content of wheat and possible suspension of yeast sediment. Aroma: The yeast, malt, and alcohol all play a role in creating a prominent and inviting aroma that is striking in its subtle complexity. Malt character will be moderately high to high, rich, and have an enticing wheat tone of bready grain. Pale versions will have a rich malt complexity of bready toastiness, sort of in line with a helles bock; rich grainy sweetness, with just light toasting. Darker versions will have a deeper richness to the malt with Maillard reactions prominent. Sometimes the darker versions are compared to dunkles bock with the malt having a rich bread feel, highly toasted, and possible whispers of caramel. There will be no hop aroma. Yeast character will be moderately low to moderately high with typical weizen aromas of banana, vanilla, and clove. Dark versions may also have some dark fruit aromas, such as that of plums, grapes, prunes, or raisins. Alcohol may contribute a low to medium warming spiciness, but shouldn’t extend into the range of actually coming across hot. Mouthfeel: Moderately to highly carbonated. The style should have a medium-full to full body with a creamy texture on the palate. The high alcohol content contributes a pleasantly mild warming. Taste: The flavor, much like the aroma, is malt-centric. Lighter versions will exhibit a more grainy sweet breadiness with hints of toast. The darker versions will have noticeable Maillard products with a deeper, richer, and toaster breadiness; and the possibility of low caramel flavors. In either case, malt character should express at a moderately high to high level. It should have good depth and richness with a recognizable wheat contribution of grainy bread. Yeast character has a typical weizen bend with low to medium banana, clove, and vanilla flavors. Dark fruit esters such as plums, grapes, raisins, and prunes may be present in darker examples and may become more noticeable as they age. The combination of rich malt, alcohol, and yeast often creates subtle complexities which age well. There should be no hop flavor, though low hop bitterness can, especially in the higher gravity examples, make sweetness more noticeable. However, most good examples finish dry; the dry finish often being heightened by subtle notes of alcohol. Pairing: Weizenbock plays a pretty diverse game when it comes to food pairing. Keep in mind that though I list certain foods for either a dark or light version it does not mean that food will not go with the other version. In fact in most cases you will still get a good pairing. Pairing Dark Weizenbock: Darker examples with their big and complex mix of fruity and malty flavors go well with hearty, sometimes gamey meats such as venison, wild boar, and lamb. The Melanoidin flavors pair well with grilled vegetables and meats. Try a steak and throw some broccoli on that grill while you’re at it. Roasts and stews again pair well with the deep richness of the malt in a dark Weizenbock. Pairing Pale Weizenbock: A lighter example may not carry the same fruity flavors as the dark ones, but they may have a more noticeable spice element from the hops. The malt profile will likely be slightly sweeter, but still carry a toasty edge. These work well with lighter meats such as grilled chicken or pork tenderloin and it can still play well with some gamey elements, keeping things like roast duck in the game. Smokey meats such as sausage can also find a friend here, especially if there is more of a hop element to the beer. Lighter examples also work well with seafood, where the beer’s effervescence can keep it light, allowing it to combine and compliment without overwhelming. Cheese: When looking at pairing cheese look for something with a little age and complexity. Try Weisslacker, also known as Bierkäse (literally beer cheese); Aged provolone, or Manchego. Smoked gouda is another good choice especially with the paler Weizenbocks. Dessert: Desserts can range from straight up chocolate to apple strudel, a rich German chocolate cake to caramel flan, banana pudding to plum tarts. And this is only touching the tip of the iceberg of sweet things that would complement a Weizenbock. And, if nothing else, pull a bottle out after dinner and sip it as a digestif while you talk with friends. Serving & Storage: For best presentation and greatest appreciation, a Weizenbock should be served at around 48-50°F in a Weizen or Snifter glass. They are best stored at cellar temperatures away from light and can be aged for several years. *Reference: The 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines Examples of the Style AlpineGlow Fat Head’s Brewery — Great American Beer Festival Winner, Gold, 2017 : Gold, 2016 : Gold, 2014. Available: Limited. Eisenbahn Weizenbock Cervejaria Sudbrack Ltda — World Beer Awards, Brazil Winner for Taste In the Strong Wheat Beer Category, 2017. Available: Year Round. Kusterer Weizenbock Cedar Springs Brewing Company — World Beer Awards, USA Winner for Taste in the Strong Wheat Beer Category, 2017. Available: Seasonal. Weizenbock Hell Brauerei Ladenburger — World Beer Cup Winner, Gold, 2016 : Silver, 2014 Available: Year Round. Plank Heller Weizenbock Brauerei Michael Plank — World Beer Cup Winner, Silver, 2016. Available: Year Round. Plank Dunkler Weizenbock Brauerei Michael Plank — World Beer Cup Winner, Bronze, 2016. Available: Year Round. Weizenbock Kansas City Bier Company — Great American Beer Festival Winner, Silver, 2015. Available: Seasonal. Monkey Business New Bohemia Brewing Company — Great American Beer Festival Winner, Bronze, 2015. Available: Limited. Tap 6 Mein Aventinus Weisses Bräuhaus G. Schneider & Sohn — World Beer Cup Winner, Gold, 2014. Available: Year Round. Dunkler Weizenbock Privatbrauerei Loncium — World Beer Cup Winner, Bronze, 2014. Available: Year Round. How to Brew a Weizenbock Recipe If you’d like to try your hand at brewing a Weizenbock recipe at home, here’s a few tips to help you throughout the process. 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 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, 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 — ranging from 6 (deep gold) to 25 (ruby brown) — and work toward that. 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 too say, there is a lot of room for experimentation when brewing a Weizenbock. Things will change just by varying the percentage of Munich to Vienna in the case above. Specialty Malts: There are quite a few specialty malts that can find their way into a Weizenbock. Medium Crystal around 40 or 45L, pale chocolate, chocolate rye, special B, honey malt, midnight wheat, chocolate wheat, caramunich, carahell, chocolate, carawheat, and Melanoidin malt could all be part of a grain bill. It is for you to play and find what works for you. Keep in mind, most Weizenbock recipes use only two or three specialty malts, and 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, preferably 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. The recipe is available online through the American Homebrewer’s Association. Hops: Hops only make a bittering appearance in this style. Any hop aroma or flavor is considered inappropriate in a Weizenbock. 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. 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: Hallertau Mittelfruh, Tettanger, Saaz, or Spalter; also other Hallertau variety. Saphir hops would also work. If hunting, something with a little higher alpha acid so you don’t have to use as much, German Northern Brewer and German Magnum would work great. 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. We’ll want to increase the boil to 90 minutes if you are using pilsner malt to help get rid of more of the precursor to DMS. Also, remember to let your wort boil vigorously and uncovered. Throw your bittering hop addition in 60 minutes before flame out. Yeast: Any good German Weizen Ale yeast will do the trick. White Labs: Hefeweizen Ale (WLP300), or Bavarian Weizen (WLP351) Wyeast: Weihenstephan Weizen (3068), or Bavarian Wheat (3638) Dry Yeast: Mangove Jack’s Bavarian Wheat (M20) or Danstar Munich Wheat (link) Organic Yeast: Imperial Yeast Stefon (G01) 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!