Sunday, June 01, 2008

Brew day: Smoke Stack Lightning Rauchweizen

After a month-plus hiatus, we busted out the mash paddle yesterday to brew 10 gallons of Rauchweizen/smoked Hefeweizen, affectionately named Smoke Stack Lightning (explanation here). Leah ended up feeling under the weather, so we were lucky to have our good friends and fellow homebrewers Marta and Kevin over to help us.

I got the water going a little after 10:30am. At 11:45 our water hit 164°F (a compromise of BeerSmith's 161.7°F mash-in temp and the 165°F temp recommended by the Green Bay Rackers' mash calculator) and we mashed in at 151°F (1°F below our target temp of 152°F--in the future I'm going to go with the Rackers' number). Our mash pH was 5.5, so I didn't have to add any acid blend.

I should note that this was the first time I used Weyermann Rauchmalz (our grain bill was 50% Rauchmalz and 50% German wheat malt), and I was surprised how mild it was. I had heard from others that it loses its bite by the time it gets to the U.S., and that seemed to be the case here. Nonetheless, it still had that unmistakable barbecue-like aroma.

At 12:50pm we began to recirculate and by 1:05 we had recirculated over a gallon and began to sparge. We collected 2.5 gallons over the first half-hour, 7.5 gallons after an hour and 11.25 gallons by 2:20pm when our sparge water ran out. We were a little short of our target of 12.5 gallons, and while I'm not totally sure why I'm not going to worry about it. I should also note that we added 1/2 lb. of rice hulls to help with the sparge since this is the first time I've used this much wheat; we didn't seem to have any problems with a low run-off. One problem we did have is I sort of forgot I clamped the sparge hose and one point and this led to the water level dropping below the grain bed about three-quarters through the sparge. Overall it didn't really seem to cause too much of a problem, fortunately.

At 2:30 the wort started boiling and we added our only hop addition. Things were pretty routine from there on out. We boiled for an hour, the pumped the wort through our chiller into two carboys. It took close to a half hour to chill the wort since my attempt to use our old busted wort chiller (with the holes duct-taped up) as a pre-chiller was only quasi-successful and we had to slow down the wort flow into the chiller to get the wort temp below 80°F. We pitched a 600mL yeast starter into the carboys and fermentation was off and running this morning.

Our original gravity came out to 1050, three points above our target. I forgot to measure our final yield, but since our sparge came a tad short I'm assuming that explains the slightly high gravity. As such, I figure we were pretty much right at the 76% efficiency I assumed when formulating the recipe.

Overall, a pretty good brew day. A few bumps in the road as usual (like when I had to run to my local homebrew store with 20 minutes left in the boil because I couldn't find my sanitizer) but all's well that ends well. I'll be curious to see how this turns out, as the smoke flavor seemed quite subdued when I sampled the wort. Stay tuned for an update!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm a homebrewer from Brazil and i will try to make a Rauchweizen in the next weeks. How taste yours Rauchweizen? 50% grain of Rauchmalz is not so much?


8:10 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Russ said...

You know, I guess I never did an official final analysis on this one (yeah, I'm bad about that). Anyway, I thought it came out well but to be honest the smoke flavor was actually too subdued for my taste. I entered the beer in a competition a couple months after kegging it and the smoke flavor was almost unnoticeable. That being said, I've heard the Weyermann Rauchmalz is notoriously inconsistent in its strength, so maybe I got a weak batch.

3:59 PM, December 31, 2008  

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