Final analysis: Step Leader Hefeweizen
Style: Weizen/Weissbier. Original gravity: 1046. Final gravity: 1012(?).
ABV: 4.4%. IBU's: 13.
ABV: 4.4%. IBU's: 13.
The first beer I brewed was a Hefeweizen, and it was awesome. It became our go-to beer for when we were having a party. As an extract beer, it was quick and easy (with the exception of blow-off tube issues). Well, five years after brewing that first Hefe, we finally got around to brewing one all-grain, with a decoction to boot. Here are the tasting notes:
Appearance: I was quite surprised how light the beer came out. As you can see in the picture above, it's a pale straw color with an ample white head. It also has the requisite cloudiness. Part of me almost thinks it's too light, but the other part of me can't figure out why that matters.
Smell: The aroma is almost all clove and yeast. It reminds me a lot of Schneider-Weisse. I'm not a big fan of Hefes that are banana bombs, which is why I prefer WLP 380 to WLP 300 yeast. However, my local homebrew store only had 300, so in an effort to avoid too much banana character, I fermented at 62°F and I think that might have been overkill. Next time I brew a Hefe with 300, I'm thinking of fermenting at 64°F instead of 62°F.
Taste: A slightly tart yeast bite (again, like Schneider-Weisse) balances the wheaty, sweet malt flavor up front. As the beer sits in your mouth, the yeastiness dissipates but a slight citrusy note comes forward. The clove-like phenols are evident in the finish, along with just a hint of hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Hefes are tough when it comes to mouthfeel. On one hand, you like to have a full malt profile, but you don't want it to be thick or too filling. This one seems a bit thin, but at the same time that leaves it quite drinkable (a good think during the summer, even if it hasn't felt like summer in Chicago so far this year). Due to a siphoning issue that you can read about here, I was a little low with my mash temp. I'm thinking if I hit the mash temp next time I should be good, but it's pretty nice as is.
Overall: This beer scared me after a week in the primary (it had a distinct sulfur bite) but it's mellowed out nicely. I don't think I'll tweak much with this next time, as it really hits the spot as a refreshing summer beer. I might up the fermentation temp a hair and watch my mash temp, but I like the 50-50 wheat/barley malt bill and the subdued hops.