A Tale of Two Brews

By V1rgilmdm

A couple months back, we had our most ambitious brewing day ever—two batches in a single day! We started brewing at 6 a.m. on Saturday (OK it was more like 8 a.m.) because we wanted to use the same yeast packet for both wheat ales. Yay efficiency!

Here’s what we used:

WYeast 3463: Forbidden Fruit

A widely used strain in the production of Witbier and Grand Cru. This yeast will produce spicy phenolics which are balanced nicely by a complex ester profile. The subtle fruit character and dry tart finish will complement wheat malt, orange peel and spice additions typical of Wits.

Flocculation: Low
Attenuation: 72-76%
Temperature Range: 63-76F, 17-24C
Alcohol Tolerance: 12% ABV

   Belgian Specialty Ale

It was our first time using this yeast and because we wanted to use it for two separate brews, we made our largest starter ever, approximately 7 liters. We then split the starter between the two batches—without measuring.

The first recipe was an all-grain, Pineapple Wheat India Pale Ale. We used 48% Pale Malt, 40% Wheat, and 12% Honey Malt. To get the pineapple flavour, we pureed two medium cans of pineapple rings, and added them in the last ten minutes of the boil. We hopped this brew with Perle, Citra, and Chinook which resulted in about 55 International Bitterness Units.

The second recipe was for an Imperial White India Pale Ale, which has been a bit of a fad recently (e.g.. Lighthouse’s Belgian White, Vancouver Island Brewing’s Flying Tanker, etc.). Our original plan was for an all-grain batch, but the sparge got stuck and we had to add a pound of extract to hit our target gravity. We used 59% Wheat, 33% Pale Malt, 7% Pale Malt extract, and 1% Flaked Oats. We started with 1 oz. of Zeus hops in our hour long boil. At the 25 minute mark, we added 1 oz. of Saaz hops. Then at the 40 minute mark, we added 1 oz. of Cascade hops. The result was about 53 International Bitterness Units. In the last 10 minutes of the boil, we added about an ounce of orange peel.

We finished about mid-afternoon and decided that after a hard day spent in the kitchen brewing, we could go out for the evening with a feeling of job well done. Meanwhile at home this was happening:

Thus the nickname ‘Volcano’ was created. This is what happens when your yeast reacts to the readily available fructose sugars in the pineapple, and there’s not enough headspace in the carboy. The beer continued to foam for several hours, and I ended up taking the tubing from my mash tun, and running it into a bucket with water, essentially making a giant airlock (the idea to create this “blow-off bucket” came from this forum posting: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/airlock-bubbling-over-95581/).

While the Imperial White did not have the ‘explosive’ issue, it did stay a muddy brown colour due to the extract we had to add to achieve the gravity we wanted. Both of the brews were fermented for ten days in the primary and then went straight to the bottle.

Fruits of the labour!

We bottle-aged both brews for a week and then rested for another week in the fridge. Then finally, we got to taste the brews!

Volcano, the Half-Wheat Pineapple IPA, turned out great. The pineapple was more in the aroma than the taste, but that complimented the citrusy/pine hop character very well. If we did this recipe again, we would rack to a secondary and add some more pineapple puree to really heighten the taste.

Unfortunately, the Imperial White IPA wasn’t quite as good. The freshest bottles had an almost overpowering clove spice flavour. We think the strong flavour came from the fact that there was too much yeast used for the batch and the fermentation happened at too warm a temperature. Luckily, as the bottles aged, the spiciness of the cloves was suppressed and the bitterness from the hops became the more dominant flavour. The oldest bottles have high amounts of carbonation causing foam-overs in the glass. If we did the Imperial White IPA brew again, we would use less yeast, more orange peel, and add some coriander. We would also rack to a secondary and use a large mash tun to prevent the stuck sparge issue that forced us to resort to the Pale Malt Extract.

In the end, both brews were great for the summer, and neither lasted very long in the fridge—which is always a good sign!

2 responses to “A Tale of Two Brews

  1. Sounds like an eventful Brew Day; the pineapple wheat sounds yummy. Looking forward to fall so I can get back at homebrewing again!

    • The pineapple wheat was pretty good. The pineapple flavours weren’t as descernible as we wanted. Came out more as fruity/citrusy. Next time I think we need to add it to the secondary. We are brewing our first post-summer batch this weekend. 50 Litres! (new equipment)

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