Whether you like or dislike German wheat beers such as a Hefeweizen will most likely depend on the first one you tried. If it was a good tasting well-balanced recipe that followed the traditional brewing guidelines for this style of beer then chances are you are now a fan of a hefe.
The key to brewing a good-tasting traditional hefeweizen recipe is it must be brewed with at least 50% wheat malt and the yeast you use must create the banana and clove characteristics this beer is known for. It is not a hoppy beer and as a result, not a lot of hops are used. This is important so that the bready and grainy flavors from the wheat and pilsner are easily detected.
Today we are going to provide you with a Hefeweizen recipe that in our opinion could be an award-winning beer if you ever decided you wanted to submit it to a competition. Afterward, we will provide you with a little history on this beer, the characteristics that are important to this style, the ingredients required to brew it, as well as going over some brewing tips and the equipment you will need to make this recipe
We call this all-grain recipe El Hefe, which is a nod to one of our favorite tv shows Ash vs Evil Dead.
Batch Size: 6 gallons
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
6 lb (2.7 kg) Wheat Malt (2 SRM)
5 lb (2.2 kg) Pilsner (1.8 SRM)
1 oz (28 g) Hallertau Tradition
Dry Yeast: Fermentis – Safale – WB06
Liquid Yeasts: White Labs WLP300 (Hefeweizen Ale) or Wyeast 3068 (Weihenstephan Weizen) yeast.
Directions: Mash at 152°F (66°C) for 60 minutes. Raise mash temperature to 170°F (76°C) to perform mash out for 10 minutes. Sparge with 170°F (76°C) water until the pre-boil level is reached. Boil for 60 minutes adding hops as per recipe. Cool wort to yeast pitching temperature. Transfer to fermenter and pitch yeast. Ferment for at least 2 weeks. Rack to keg or bottle and carbonate. The carbonation level is 2.5 – 3 volumes.
If you have any questions on making this recipe feel free to ask us in the comment section.
The following is a brief history of the origins of this beer style, if you want to get the full details on the background of this beer I recommend you check out my post “what is a Hefeweizen”.
Wheat has been used in making beer for centuries. So much so that in the past some countries went so far as to ban its use by breweries in an attempt to make sure that there was enough wheat and rye for bakeries to be able to make bread; which was an important food source at the time. These laws we referred to as the Purity Law or Reinheitsgebot declaration in Germany and Bavaria.
But luckily for wheat beer fans, one exception was made. A royal family who enjoyed these styles of beer were permitted to continue brewing wheat beer. Royals were the only people permitted to brew wheat beers for many years until the early 1800s when Georg I Schneider became the first commoner granted permission.
A traditional hefeweizen recipe would be brewed with at least 50% wheat malt but in many cases have as high as 70%. As a result of this higher level of wheat, the beer has a soft almost pillow-like bread taste. There is none to very little hop aroma or flavor and the bitterness from the hops is just enough to balance the sweetness from the malt.
Yeast is what provides the majority of the characteristics that this beer is famous for as they create the esters that provided for the clove, banana, and bubblegum flavors and aromas. This is an unfiltered beer as the yeast being left in suspension is a desirable trait. The head-on the beer is quite large and fluffy white looking, the carbonation is typically medium-high to high.
Tips for Homebrewing a Hefeweizen Recipe
The following are some tips to help you make sure you are brewing as traditionally close to this beer style as possible…
Choosing Your Wheat
As we have discussed, to brew a traditional version of this style your recipe will require 50% wheat malt at a minimum. You can use white wheat or even red wheat also referred to as winter wheat. They both will work fine.
Choosing Your Hops
The main focus of this beer is on the wheat malt and the yeast, so it is important that you let these two ingredients shine through. This style is not like an American wheat beer where liberties are taken with increased hop usage. Strive to keep the bitterness, aroma, and taste that the hops present in the beer low. German hops are recommended. The IBU range is typically between 10 – 18.
Adjusting Your Water
If your water is typically soft to moderately hard you will be all set. If your water is hard then the following post will help you learn more about adjusting your brewing water. The pH should be between 5.2 – 5.6.
No need to overthink fermentation temperature, follow the temperature range the yeast strain you are using calls for, it is located on the back of the sachet. The key is to maintain the temperature as steady as possible throughout fermentation.
Choosing Your Yeast
The yeast strain you use is crucial to producing the aromas and flavors a Hefeweizen is known for. There are plenty of options on the market, any yeast that claims to be a German-style wheat beer yeast will work well.
How to Prevent a Stuck Sparge
It is well known that brewing with wheat can allow for stuck sparges or mashes. A couple of ways to help you to prevent this from occurring are:
Add half a pound of rice hills to a 5 – 6 gallon batch. They do not add any flavor or sugar to the wort and prevent stuck sparges by helping to add a proper grain bed that helps with filtering.
Keep the grain bed afloat. Do not let the sparge water get too low as it will cause the grain bed to dry out resulting in a greater chance of a stuck sparge occurring. Keep enough water above the layer of the grain bed.
Another tool you can use when brewing hefeweizen or other wheat beers is to use a brew bag. Homebrewers who brew using the brew in a bag technique using these bags. They are very helpful in reducing the chance of stuck sparges.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does Hefeweizen take to ferment?
Active fermentation is typically completed in 5 – 7 days, however, it is recommended to allow any beer you are making to ferment for at least 14 days in order for the yeast to have ample time to clean itself off. You can check out the following post to learn more about fermentation techniques.
What gives Hefeweizen its flavor?
The yeast provides the most recognizable flavors for this style of beer, however, the grain bill also provides many of its flavors. The hops provide a slight bitterness but no flavors should be derived from them.
Is there barley malt in a Hefeweizen?
Yes on top of wheat malt, the grain bill will be made up of 30 – 50% barley malt.
Are there bananas in a Hefeweizen?
No, there are no bananas in any recipe for this style. The banana flavor is a by-product of the yeast used.
How do you make a good Hefeweizen?
Brewing any good homebrew requires a complete understanding of all of the steps involved in the brewing process. Proper sanitizing and the prevention of oxidation are two key components. To learn more about what goes into making a good beer we recommend you check out our homebrewing guide.
Equipment & Ingredients
In regards to the ingredients to make this beer recipe any homebrew shop should carry them, you can also check out our list of recommended online vendors, they not only carry the ingredients but also provide both all-grain and extract beer kits to make this homebrew, which is a great alternative to buying the ingredients individually.
In regards to the equipment needed, if you are going to make an extract version of this beer you will need the basic equipment such as a fermenter, bottles, bottling bucket, and siphon. If you are brewing the all-grain recipe we provided you will need an all-grain brewing system. I brew on the all-in-one electric brewing systems, you can learn more about them here: Electric BIAB everything you need to know.
There you have it my friend you now know how to and have a recipe to make this delicious beer for yourself. If you have any questions be sure to let me know in the comment section.
Before we sign off, we are doing a poll and want to know what your favorite German wheat beer from the following list is?
- Or do you prefer American wheat beers?
Cheers, Big Robb is Out!