Monday, March 4, 2013

Hibiscus/Galaxy Wit Recipe

Barley and both malted and unmalted wheat for my wit!Belgian wit is a tricky style to nail, at least judging from most of the renditions I've drank. The soaring balance of spices, yeast character, and wheat often falls when one element (usually the spices) dominates. Common issues include pithy dried orange peel bitterness, hot-dog flavored coriander, and a flabby/bland base beer. My favorite example is St. Bernardus Witbier, with its subtle tartness, gentle spicing, and balanced yeast character. If I could brew a wit that good, I’d be satisfied!

I hadn’t brewed a wit since my first year as a homebrewer. That batch, based on a recipe from Radical Brewing, called for a cereal mash. That won’t be an option on Modern Times' 30 bbl brewhouse, so we opted for an infusion mash with a combination of flaked and malted wheat, and a touch of oats. After cooling a sample of the mash to room temperature and using my meter to measure the pH at 5.8, slightly above the ideal range, I added .25 lbs of acid malt. I also acidified the sparge water with a teaspoon of phosphoric acid. This is a beer where my goal isn't to impart sourness, but the correct pH will result in a crisp and refreshing balance.

Indian coriander and zested Temple oranges, ready to add at flame-out.For spicing I went with coriander from an Indian grocery store. This variety is much more citrusy/fruity than the variety carried on most supermarket spice aisles, which is often reminiscent of celery, ham, or hot dogs. Indian markets also carry spices for a fraction of the cost of supermarkets and specialty spice shops. For orange I went with fresh Temple oranges (actually a tangor, tangerine-orange hybrid). I harvested the zest with a rasp/Microplane grater to minimize the amount of bitter pith collected.

I added both the coffee-grinder-crushed coriander and zest at the end of the boil. I find that late boil spice additions do not have the bright punch of post-fermentation spicing, but their character becomes more integrated as the enzymes from the yeast work to change the character of the spices. If I was brewing a straight-ahead wit, I would have added a small amount of chamomile as well, as its juicy-fruit aromatics worked so well in the Radical Brewing recipe.

That first batch of wit was fermented with WLP400 Belgian Wit Ale Yeast, until it stalled around 1.020. I was new to brewing, and with the ABV within the suggested 3.6-4.2% ABV range (like many recipes in the book, oddly low considering the 1.052 OG), so I bottled. A few weeks later the first one blew. When I mentioned what happened to Mike Roy, who was letting me help out at Milly's Tavern in Manchester, NH for a few days, he told me that he'd stopped using the strain after experieincing a similar stall (Mike is now the brewer at Franklin's in Hyattsville, the closest brewpub to my house).

For this batch, I had a fresh yeast cake of Wyeast 3711 French Saison from my second batch of Lomaland. It is fruitier than many saison strains, and at a moderate fermentation temperature I hoped it would be clean enough not to overwhelm the spices. WY3711 presents an opposite issue to WLP400, its high attenuation rate necessitated a hot saccharification rest to preserve any dextrins. Despite mashing at 158F the yeast still achieved 82% AA.

Now for the twist. This ten gallon batch was split three ways. I'll bottle a six-pack plain for comparison, with the rest receiving a second round of flavoring. Half was dry hopped with Galaxy. It is a hop I’ve had less than terrific luck with in DIPAs, but hopefully 2 oz of pellets dry hopped will enhance the fruity character and balance. I'll dose the other keg with a hibiscus “tea” extraction. This will add a bright pink color, light tartness, and fruity-cranberry aromatics. For more information on this process see what I did for my tart-floral-gruit.

Hibiscus-Galaxy Wit

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 10.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 19.25
Anticipated OG: 1.049
Anticipated SRM: 3.5
Anticipated IBU: 15.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

41.6% - 8.00 lbs. CMC Superior 2-row
31.2% - 6.00 lbs. Flaked Wheat
20.8% - 4.00 lbs. German Wheat Malt
5.2% - 1.00 lbs. Quick Oats
1.3% - 0.25 lbs. Acidulated Malt

2.50 oz. Hallertau Hersbrucker (Pellet 3.00% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Galaxy (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop

0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 20 Min.
4 Temple Oranges (Tangor) Zested @ 0 min.
0.75 oz Indian Coriander @ 0 min.
Hibiscus Tea @ 0 Days

WYeast 3711 French Saison

Water Profile
Profile: San Diego

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 158 F
Sacch II - 15 min @ 163 F

 Brewed 2/17/13 by myself

Added three handfuls of rice hulls to the grist.

Adjusted carbon filtered DC tap to San Diego (Baking soda, gypsum, CaCl, Epsom, and kosher salt), no distilled dilution, for the mash and batch sparge. Tried to boost the temperature to mash out, but I'd lost enough temp that it just brought it to 163 F.

Mash pH came in slightly high at 5.8 @ room temp (according to my meter), so I added 4 oz of acid malt to bring it down slightly. Added 1 tsp of phosphoric acid to the sparge water.
Collected 10 gallon of 1.049 runnings.

Fresh zest from 4 Temple oranges, Indian coriander.

Chilled to ~65 F, topped off with 1 gallon of distilled water to reach target volume/gravity.

Yeast harvested from Lomaland #2, 2/3 cup of thin/clean slurry pitched into each. Left at 65 F ambient to ferment. Quick start to fermentation, did not warm, allowed to free-rise only.

2/25/13 Down to 1.009 (considering the mash temp, wow!). Dry hopped half with 2 oz of Galaxy pellets, loose. Agitated the wort twice a day for remainder of time in bucket.

3/3/13 Racked the galaxy dry hopped half into a purged keg.

3/17/13 Bottled one gallon plain with .75 oz of table sugar. Kegged the remaining 4 gallons with a tea made from 3 oz of hibiscus mixed with 3 cups of just off-boiling water for 5 minutes.

4/11/13 Galaxy dry hopped portion really brought out the citrus. Finally a beer I brewed with Galaxy that I really enjoy!

5/9/13 Hibiscus portion is rocking! Beautiful color, and a complex and refreshing blend of fruity aromatics. Hard to decide which I enjoy more.


MJ said...

For spices, look at Penzey's. They are a Milwaukee based company. Everything I've bought from them has been super fresh and vibrant. They also deal in volumes that might make sense for a brewery.

p.s. Their chili 9000 spice blend can't be beat (for chili). I've tried.

Pbeau said...

The 3711 yeast has a crazy high attenuation. When I brewed my saison, I expected 1.009 but it went all the way down to 1.002. I'm sure some other factors contributed but, still..

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've been a big Penzeys fan since I lived near one for two years while in Pittsburgh for college. However, I paid $2.99 for 14 oz of coriander at Patel Brothers, while Penzeys charges $2.65 for a .5 oz jar. If I had any qualms about the quality I'd pay more, but I've had great luck with with the Indian coriander.

Max said...

Hey Mike, this is a bit of a tangent, but what kind of pH meter do you use? I'm on the verge of buying one, both for brewing and for salumi making, and would love any advice or specific recommendations. Thanks!

cswest said...

I just brewed a wit last night for NHC, in addition to the traditional spices I like to add the zest from one grapefruit. I really like the flavor and aroma it adds. The grapefruit especially works well in a White IPA.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Clearly you had better luck than I did with the servers. I used some grapefruit zest in the first batch of wit I referenced, I'll have to revisit if this one doesn't have enough citrus bite.

I've had a pretty good experience with my Hanna HI 98107 meter so far. Seems much more accurate than the Color pHast pH strips I used before. Kai has a whole page of suggestions as well.

Anonymous said...

What is the SRM on the CMC Superior 2-row?

John said...

Are u fermenting this yeast at 70 degrees and having luck with it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The CMC Superior 2-Row is listed at 1.7-2.1L. The sample I pulled of the wit at kegging was nicely yellow. Maybe an 1/8 shade more golden than you’d expect with pilsner malt (for example CMC’s is 1.3-1.7L), but not by much.

One of the great things about 3711 is that it ferments quickly even at temperatures much lower than standard saisons. I think for a saison the flavor benefits from being closer to 80F by the end, but in this case I didn’t want the high level of esters that would create walking over the spices and dry hops.

Sebastian said...

How is the flavor of this so far? I have almost the EXACT same recipe except with FB Pils instead of 2-row.

Galaxy is a fun one!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Liking it pretty well. A bit thinner than most wits, but very bright and refreshing.

Sebastian said...

Excellent. I think it'll do well. I may ramp up the wheat content to try to combat 3711 dryness.

Side note, your Dark Saison with figs helped earn me a 39/50 and a mini-bos entry in the recent Homebrew Alley VII in NYC! Thanks for what you do.

Unknown said...


I've had good success with WLP410 Belgian Wit II Yeast fermented on the warmer side of it's spectrum (mid 70's F). I also have had good luck with the Wyeast variety (3498) fermented around the same temperature. The thing I like about those strains are they don't really flocculate, so you get the beautiful cloudiness that a wit can have. They also put off a bit of sulfur, which I really like in a witbier.

As far as spicing goes, you should try a little (20 grams per 20 liters) of dried chamomile flowers. It is pretty subtle, but provides an earth tone to complement the orange and coriander.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad to hear the wit strains have worked for you, I should revisit them eventually. We're hoping to be able to brew this occasionally with whatever we end up using for the saison to make things easier, we'll see.

I find chamomile to be fruity rather than earthy, but I too like it in a wit. Just didn't want to add it to this one where we already have so much going on.

flabyboy said...

How do you think Citra would go with this beer instead of the Galaxy?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Citra would work great! I think any hop that is bright/fruity/citrusy would make sense with the zest/yeast/coriander. Conversely, I'd avoid any hops that are dank/piney/woodsy for a recipe like this. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

You said you used 3711, but you also said you harvested yeast from Fortunate Islands which was 001. I don't mean to nit pick, but which was it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Thanks for catching that mistake! Getting my own beers confused... The yeast for this batch was 3711, but it was harvested from the second iteration of Lomaland. Doesn't sound like that will be an option at Modern Times, the first batch of Lomaland will be fermented with a blend of the Dupont with a small amount of Westmalle for attenuation.

Anonymous said...

I asked because I just brewed Fortunate Islands with 001. It was super cloudy while racking to keg. I'm interested to see how well it clears up after carbonating at cold temps for a week. Thanks for the recipe! Citra + Amarillo will be hard for me to screw up!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

That is one of the only issues with 001, it is a very slow flocculator. Lucky on a homebrewing scale it doesn't have far to fall. Cold should help.

Anonymous said...

To prevent the wlp400 from taking a long break at 1.020 you can carefully shake the fermentering bucket. The other way is to start fermenting at 17'C and increase the temperature to 21'C at 1'C a day. This usally helps prevent the yeast from stopping at high FG.
(The reason for using C grades is that I brew in Norway and we use C' )

scootergreene said...

Great recipe!!! Just bottled some unhopped and now added my Galaxy. Question.. How do you separate the pellets before you bottle or keg? Do you rack to a secondary?
Sorry for such a rookie questions..


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I always bag pellet hops in fine mesh (usually pantyhose) for dry hopping, much easier to deal with them that way than loose.

scootergreene said...

Thanks... I appreciate the clarification.. When you posted, 'Dry hopped half with 2 oz of Galaxy pellets, loose. ' I took it literally.. I guess I can filter through pantyhose when racking to a bottling bucket? Thanks again for the great site and brewing tips.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Going back and looking at the notes, this looks like it was the rare case where I dry hopped with pellets that weren't bagged. Didn't do anything special, but the nice thing about kegging is that as the beer carbs and cold conditions, any solids tend to drop and get sucked out with the first few pints.

Give the pellets time and cold if you can to drop out, filter if that isn't enough (I had to do that on the last beer I did with raspberries).

scootergreene said...

Thanks.. Appreciate it.. Ill let you know how it goes. I assume it will fall out of solution and when bottle conditioned, it will fall out into the sediment.

Thanks Again

Daniel Baleckaitis said...

I know this is an old post, been following your posts for sometime. Recently I visited Modern Times- really, really good stuff and cool scene.


Unknown said...

Hi, Would you mind telling me how you made the Hibiscus Tea? I have the dried flower now so I assume you add it to warm water, but in what quantities.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The 3/17/13 update in the Notes at the bottom has the specifics in terms of amounts, times, and temperature. I find it easiest to mix the hot water and dried hibiscus in a French press. You can either make some measured blends, or just add, stir, taste, repeat until the hibiscus is where you want it.

Unknown said...

I just brewed a 5 gallon batch this weekend. Ended up having to cool the wort by letting it sit outside in 15 degree weather, with about -2 wind chills. Still took 4 hours to get it to 75, then I put it in a room of my house that stays around 65 this time of year. I pitched Forbidden Fruit, WY3463 I believe, the following morning.

Debating on whether to dry hop like you did, will likely depend on the taste as bottling time gets closer. I'm thinking of adding some organic Dark Cherry juice to about half of it, may use that to carbonate but need to research if that'll give me bombs or not.