Beer Homebrew Recipe

Batch 83: Barrel-Soured Witbier

I took a pause both from brewing and keeping up with my notes.  This batch I brewed the last week of December 2019.  It was the eleventh batch of the Knob Creek barrel project.

Barrel participants all brewed different witbier recipes.  Mine was a 22 gallon batch – one share each for me & Spencer, a bonus one for the angel’s share, and one to bottle and drink clean.  Recipe:

  • 45% pilsner
  • 25% malted wheat
  • 20% flaked wheat
  • 10% flaked oats
  • Rice hulls
  • 18 IBU Magnum hops (60 min)
  • Citrus peel (dried bitter orange, fresh blood orange, lemon?)
  • 40g ground coriander (for 22 gal batch)
  • Wyeast 3944

The mash briefly stuck & I ended up needing some dry malt extract to hit my gravity of 1.045 due to lower than expected efficiency.

Adventures in Homebrewing crushed my grain, which in the past has led to lower efficiency.  I asked them to crush finer than usual, they told me they closed the gap on their mill from “29” to “22”.  If that means 0.022″ then that would be a fine crush but it doesn’t add up: in the past their default crush has left me with whole kernels of barley and the 0.022″ crush did not look that aggressive.

I bottled the clean 5 gallons and it’s long gone.  It was good, not great, lacking rich yeast character.

The ~50 gallons of sour witbier remains in the barrel.  Emptying and filling the barrel usually involves 8-10 people crammed in a small basement, which is not an option under COVID.  For now, the witbier remains in the barrel, keeping it wet and providing a home for the microbes.  We’ll try shifting to a solera operation, where one person removes and replaces 5 gallons at a time – much easier logistically.

I’ll go first, planning to remove 5 gallons and replace it with some of my hefeweizen (batch 84). The to-be-soured share was fermented with a Belgian yeast, T-58, so is almost a witbier, and one nice thing about blending 50 gallons of beer together is that even major differences in a single 5 gallon contribution are not noticeable.

We typically cycle the beer every 6 months and it gets nice and tart in that time.  I wonder if at 9 months (and counting) this one is too sour, or if it will get there before we can remove it.

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