Friday, September 23, 2011

Golden American Wheat Tasting

A glass of golden American wheat beer.After two years of kegging, the biggest complaint I have about having beers on tap is that I tend to drink them rather than opening up bottles.  This is a result of how easy it is to pour a glass of beer, and that I am often waiting for a tap to open up for a beer that is ready to force carbonate.  Having more taps might help the situation, but that will have to wait.

Audrey and I bottled our most recent collaboration (a golden American wheat) six weeks ago and this is only the second bottle I've opened.  It may simply need more time, but the flavors still haven't come together for me.  It has some earthy/spicy components that I'm struggling to identify; at first I worried that some Brett snuck into the beer, but it isn't developing that way. 

I think everyone has some ingredients that always work and others that just never seem to taste right to them.  For example, The Henley of Thames strain (WLP023/WY1275) has always given too much mineral from my tastes in an English ale.  With this as my first try at a 100% Willamette beer, I'm suspecting that it may be a hop that doesn't mesh well with my taste buds solo.

Audrey's Golden American Wheat

Appearance – Pours slightly hazy, not surprising for a beer with 50% wheat malt. The color is about what we were aiming for, deep gold headed towards light amber. The head is thin, but dense and long lasting.

Smell – The aroma is odd at first with some assertive yeastiness. That quickly evaporates leaving a slightly spicy, bready aroma. The aromatics continue to change as the beer warms, gaining subtle floral and citrus notes.

Taste – It is confusing where the clove/pepper character came from considering we fermented with US-05 in the mid-high 60s F. The malt character is nice, crackery, doughy, with some light caramel. More bitterness than most American wheat beers, but that is the balance we were looking for.

Mouthfeel – Medium body, somewhat thicker than most moderate gravity wheat beers.  Middle-of-the-road carbonation, especially compared to the many gassy wheat beers.

Drinkability & Notes – An interesting beer, not as clean as I was expecting, but more layers to the flavor and aroma than I anticipated. I think the spice character can be attributed to the "spicy woody" Willamette hops, although I'm reluctant to say for sure as this was the first beer I brewed with them and nothing else. Not one of my favorite batches, but there really isn't anything really wrong with it.


Royski said...

Nice camshaft

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It's a VW. Got a pair down in Asheville at the university farmer's market.

Atlas said...

I would suspect that the weird, earthy component would be the Willamette. When used in large quantities, it can be a like it/don't like hop.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

It may be US-05. I'm not sure if you have used it exclusively but when I have used it I get some fruity esters, notably peach. Also, the yeast does not floc as well as 1056 for example.

This has been up for debate for some time in BA homebrew forums with some people stating US-05 throws some strange esters but some say it does not.

I suspect it is a result of one's system that determines US-05's performance. I stick to Wyeast 1056 now.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've had the same peach-ester thing with US-05 before, this is different. It is phenolic, something I've never gotten out of US-05 before. I actually really like US-05 for certain styles (like Berliner weisse) because it is so attenuative, but I agree that it is definitely not the same as 1056/001.

I really think for the comments I've got that it is probably the Willamette, I think I'll stick to using it as a component of hop blends.

Hollis Brwew co. said...

Maybe a higher level of carbonation would help to carry away some of the hop flavors you are not enjoying. Do you like the higher/ gassy wheat's ? great blog BTW long time reader first time commenter !

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'd actually think that more carbonation would bring the aromatics up even more, but it might help to distract from the flavor. In general I'm not a fan of high carbonation, but I don’t mind it in a hefeweizen. I’ll just sit on this one for a month or two to let the hops fade a little. Glad you’ve enjoyed the blog!

Adam said...

With it being a wheat beer it could be a combination of the temp US05 fermented at and ferulic acid. I am not sure what yeast Widmer uses but their "hefe" is not made with hefe yeast.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've read that barley (surprisingly) has more ferulic acid than wheat, it really is all about what yeast you use. I've never gotten this flavor in a wheat beer with a clean yeast.

The Widmer strain is available as 1010/320, White Labs mentions some low clove/banana production (although Wyeast does not).

Anonymous said...

I use Wyeast 1010 for all my American wheats and prefer it to the 1056 versions. Give it a try :)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

What do you like about 1010? I've never used it, but read mixed things.