Saturday, June 27, 2009

Brew Day: Black Moon Black Witbier

A while back a thread was started on BeerAdvocate where certain people took exception to the term "Black IPA," noting that the P in IPA stands for "pale," and a beer can't be both black and pale at the same time. This got me thinking about what other contradictory beers one could come up with, and one stuck in my mind: a black Witbier. "Wit" is Flemish for "white," and so a black Witbier would be just as offensive to the beer grammar police as is a black IPA. And since I already brewed a black IPA earlier this year, I had no choice to brew a black Witbier. Thus Black Moon was born.

I didn't want Black Moon to be too roasty, so I went with one pound of chocolate wheat and one pound of dehusked Carafa III to go along with nine pounds each of pale malt and flaked wheat. Well, technically I subbed two pounds of Pils for pale and a pound of Weyermann malted wheat for flaked wheat to get rid of some malt I had lying around, but otherwise it was a traditional Witbier malt bill with 10% dark malts mixed in.

The brew day was pretty uneventful, save for the fact that my buddy Paul came over and brewed with me. I hate brewing five gallons when I could just as easily brew ten but I really don't need ten gallons of this particular brew. Paul has a barbecue coming up for which he needs more beer, so it was a good deal all around.

Anyway, here are the vitals from the brew day... Started at 2:30; mashed in at 3:10 at 151°F (was shooting for 154, but had to stir a lot due to the flaked wheat and I think this brought my temp down). Since this was the first time I've used this much flaked wheat (or flaked anything, for that matter) I realized after mash-in that, even with a pound of rice hulls, it was a pretty thick mash at my standard 1.25 quarts water/lb. grain. As such, I added 1.5 gallons to my sparge water volume and added that to the mash when my water hit 160°F. This gave me an equivalent ratio of 1.5 qt./gal.

We sparged from 4:10 until 5:30, at which point we had collected 12.5 gallons. I had to keep the valve open more than I normally would, and at times the flow was more irregular than usual, but overall I didn't notice any problems from the flaked wheat. As you can see to the right, Dorrie was more than willing to help me clean the spent grain out the mash tun. We boiled from 5:30 to 6:30, with sweet and bitter orange peel being added at 6:10 and coriander and aroma hops added at 6:25. At 6:30 we chilled down to 67°F with the plate chiller. Our measured original gravity was 1045, three points below the target gravity, but we yielded well over the 11 gallons we planned; I guess when it's 90°F outside you don't get so much boil-off.

Tasting the beer after chilling, I'm a little concerned I was heavy-handed with the chocolate wheat, and that the roasted flavors will mask the orange peel and coriander. I guess time will tell. Anyway, we pitched a 1000mL starter of WLP 400 Belgian Wit ale yeast, and now my carboy's sitting in the basement getting ready to rock.

So there you have it. Another brew day in the books. Now I just have to get my butt in gear and keg the Hefeweizein...


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