The Brewer: John Buckles
I first got into homebrewing in 2016 by hanging around my brother's brewing days in Boulder. He had a classic BIAB setup with a propane burner and plastic bucket. It never occurred to me that you could brew your own beer at home! My soon-to-be wife surprised me that Christmas with a basic starter kit and I was hooked. My brother and I ended up brewing a double batch for the wedding, an all-grain IPA and an extract amber ale. They were both a huge hit, and I knew I had found my hobby.
Over the years, I was amazed by the extent to which the craft could be taken, and I started planning my dream brewery. After we bought our first house, I initially struggled to find a good spot to brew, and when I had to dump a batch I knew it was time to realize the dream. We renovated our basement and built Ironton Brewing, whose name pays homage to the old silver mining town of Ironton, Colorado.
As an engineer by trade, I love how the Spike Trio system lets you adjust all the "levers" to really focus on the beer. For me, it's as much about the process as the finished product!
The Beer: Hefeweizen
This recipe includes acidulated malt to offset the need for acid additions, which is a more traditional approach for fun.
I use a step mash with a ferulic acid rest at 113ºF, which helps produce more clove flavor during fermentation. I like the main mash to be a bit higher at 154ºF to build more body in the final beer.
I ferment first at 62ºF for a few days to restrain the banana esters, then let it rise naturally to 68ºF for the classic banana flavor.
Overall, this Hefe has notes of banana, clove, bread and honey. It's delicious and one of our house favorites!
The Recipe: Honey Bunch Hefe
- 13.0 lbs Pale Wheat
- 10.0 lbs Pilsner
- 1.0 lbs Munich II
- 0.5 lbs Caramunich II
- 0.25 lbs Acidulated
- Boil hops: 2.0 oz Hallertau - 0:60 min
BATCH SIZE: 11 gal
MASH TEMP: 113ºF => 154ºF
BOIL: 90 min
FERMENTATION: 62ºF => 68ºF - 3 => 4 days
SYSTEM: Spike Trio
John Buckles – Ironton Brewing
Spike Summarizes: All Things Hefeweizen
What is the history of Hefeweizen?
Hefeweizen, also known as Weissbier or Weizenbier, has a long history in Germany. Originating in Bavaria, this wheat beer style has been brewed for centuries and is deeply ingrained in Bavarian beer culture.
Interestingly, Hefeweizen is one of the few exceptions to the German beer purity law, Reinheitsgebot, which traditionally allowed only barley, water, and hops in beer. This exception was made because of the high wheat content in Hefeweizen.
How does Hefeweizen compare to other types of beer?
Hefeweizen is quite unique, characterized by a high percentage of wheat, a distinct yeast strain, and its unfiltered nature.
It's known for a fruity (banana) and spicy (clove) character, a bright golden color with a cloudy appearance, and a fluffy, long-lasting head - all of which set it apart from many other beer styles.
What is the ideal food pairing for Hefeweizen?
Hefeweizen is light and refreshing with a distinctive flavor profile that pairs well with a variety of dishes.
Seafood, salads, and light poultry dishes make great companions. Even brunch-style foods like eggs and sausages or sweet dishes like fruit tarts work well with Hefeweizen's fruity and spicy notes.
Is Hefeweizen a Summer beer?
While beer enjoyment is a year-round affair, the light, refreshing nature of Hefeweizen does indeed make it a popular choice for summer imbibing.
What are the key ingredients in Hefeweizen?
As the name suggests, wheat is a key ingredient in Hefeweizen, often comprising 50% or more of the grain bill. The other significant ingredient is the yeast, which imparts the signature banana and clove flavors.
Why is Hefeweizen also called a "Weissbier"?
"Weissbier" means "white beer" in German, a name likely derived from the beer's pale, cloudy appearance. "Hefeweizen," on the other hand, translates to "yeast wheat," referring to the yeast left in the bottle and the high wheat content. Both terms are used interchangeably to refer to the same style.
What's the typical ABV of Hefeweizen?
German Hefeweizens typically have a moderate alcohol content, generally around 4.5-5.5% ABV. This makes them a great choice for a sessionable drink that can be enjoyed over a period of time.
Does Hefeweizen have a fruity flavor?
Hefeweizens are known for their characteristic banana-like fruity flavor. However, it's important to note that this isn't from added fruit, but rather a byproduct of the specific yeast strain used in fermentation.
How is Hefeweizen beer brewed?
Brewing Hefeweizen involves a higher-than-usual proportion of wheat malt, often half or more of the total grain bill. The yeast used is a special strain that produces the signature banana and clove flavors.
Unlike many beer styles, Hefeweizen is left unfiltered, which contributes to its cloudy appearance and rich, full-bodied mouthfeel.
What's the best temperature to serve Hefeweizen beer?
Hefeweizen is best served at a slightly cooler temperature than most ales - around 45-50°F (7-10°C). This temperature allows the distinct banana and clove flavors to shine without being overpowered by the chill.
Why is Hefeweizen beer so carbonated?
The high carbonation level in Hefeweizen contributes to its refreshing nature and helps to enhance its unique flavor profile. It also results in the style's characteristic fluffy, long-lasting head when poured.
Are all Hefeweizen beers the same?
While all Hefeweizens share certain characteristics – such as being brewed with a significant proportion of wheat and a specific yeast strain – there's still room for variation. Brewers can play with the malt bill, fermentation temperature, and other factors to create their own unique take on this classic style.