There are more than 100 recognized styles of beer being made today. For the most part I'm happy to ignore all of them and just brew what I want. I think ingredient combinations and techniques should be based on hitting the flavors and characteristics you like, not some mostly arbitrary target that someone else (BJCP, World Beer Cup, Brewers Association etc...) came up with.
So it is with great sadness that admit that I recently brewed one of my favorite beers, a completely by the numbers, no-nonsense German Hefe Weisse. The recipe I used for this batch was very close to another one I brewed in the fall of 2008 that was just about perfect, banana (but not too much), bread, clove, light, spritzy, and delicious (I did up the alcohol a bit this time to 5% ABV). I tried to brew a batch with extract last fall, but the bready malt depth and balance just weren't there.
I went with a simple grist of 50% pilsner and 50% wheat malt. For the mash I did a single decoction on my stove with four rests:
1. Mashed in at 114 F for ferulic acid (a precursor for the molecule that gives the spicy clove character) using 2 qrts of water per pound of grain.
2. After 15 minutes I turned on the burner and brought the mash up to 125 F for a protein rest, stirring regularly to prevent the grain at the bottom from scorching.
3. 10 minutes later I turned the heat back on and took the mash up to 144 F to start the conversion of starches into sugar.
4. 10 minutes into the Saccharification rest I pulled about 1/3 of the mash (thicker than the mash, but still with plenty of liquid on the advice of Kai's excellent decoction guide on German brewing and more) and heated it to a boil over 30 minutes.
5.After boiling the decoction for 10 minute I added the decoction back to the main mash for a second, warmer, Saccharification rest at 161 F to finish off conversion. I let the mash rest here for 20 minutes before proceeding with the brew.
The ground water at my house is around 82 F this time of year, so after getting the wort under 90 F I moved it to my fermentation fridge to cool to pitching temps.
I had great luck pitching and fermenting Wyeast 3068 at 55 F ambient last time, so I did the same this time. After 4 days I increased the ambient temp to 62 to make sure the yeast doesn't stall out as fermentation nears completion. After two weeks, assuming fermentation is finished, I'll drop the temperature close to 32 F for 7-10 days of cold conditioning before bottling the beer.
Hefeweizen is one style I just don't think should be tampered with, the combination of banana, clove, rich malt, and moderate hopping is in perfect balance...
By the Book Hefeweizen
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.50
Anticipated OG: 1.050
Anticipated SRM: 3.1
Anticipated IBU: 11.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 115 Minutes
50.0% - 4.75 lbs. German Wheat Malt
50.0% - 4.75 lbs. French Pilsener
2.00 oz. Spalter Spalt (Pellet, 1.50% AA) @ 75 min.
0.40 Tsp Yeast Nutrient 10 min.
WYeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen
Profile: Carbon Filtered Washington DC
Ferulic Acid 15 min @ 114 (Infuse)
Protein 10 min @ 125 (Direct)
Sacch I 40 min @ 144 (Direct)
Sacch II 20 min @ 161 (Decoction)
Made a 1 qrt starter the night before to split between this one and the other wheat beer I am brewing.
Brewed 7/18/10 By myself
Mashed 18 lbs of malt, 50% each Weyermann Wheat and French Pils. Added all the sparge water before running off the mash, stirred and waited a few minutes then ran off 8 gallons @ 1.040 for this beer. Took 1 gallon of the runnings to add to the other half of the batch, added 1 gallon of boiling water to this to replace the volume. The other half of the wort went to the Hoppy Hefe.
8 month old hops adjusted down from 2% AA.
Chilled to ~85, racked to a bucket, moved to fridge set to 55. Added 1 cup of wort to the starter and put it in the fridge so it would be active and the same temp at pitching.
6hours later I pitched 3 cups of the starter and gave 45 seconds of pure oxygen, returned to the fridge @ 55 degrees.
Good fermentation after 18 hours, small amount of blow off.
7/22/10 Upped temp to 62 to help fermentation finish out.
7/26/10 Upped to 65 as the beer still has a big krausen on it.
8/1/10 Racked to keg. Dropped temp to 34 to drop excess yeast/protein out of solution.
8/12/10 Bottled with 5 oz of cane sugar in 1 pint of water, aiming for ~3.5 volumes of CO2.
9/16/10 Turned out really well, good balance of fruit/spice/dough. Not much I would change next time around, but the head retention was mediocre.