Another entry in the category of popular beer styles that I have never made, along with IPA, is your standard wheat beer. I’ve certainly made beers with wheat in them as I have made many renditions of my Dunkelweizen, though that beer has recently fallen out of favour with me so I’m shelving it for the foreseeable future. I have never made a standard hefeweizen, American wheat, or anything you’d put in the pale wheat beer category, but that is about to change.
Not long ago the AABG was approached by the National Honey Board to work with them on a project promoting the use of honey in beer. This would consist of the NHB coming to our club, giving a presentation on honey varietals, offering up some information on using honey in beer, and culminating in an intra-club competition where the participants would receive a small amount of honey to make a honey beer (not a braggot, talking 10-25% of the fermentables).
My initial idea for a recipe were for a saison, thinking that the wine-like characteristics of the saison yeasts would work well with a small honey addition to give a crisp, easy drinking beer. I put together a fairly basic saison recipe, with an estimated amount of honey to use as I had no idea how much we would receive. Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly, the amount of honey we’ll get is limited to just 2 lbs per person, and I was banking on using in the range of 7 lbs for the saison. Around this same time I started reading the chapter on wheat beer in Martyn Cornell’s Amber, Gold & Black. Not knowing that England had any wheat beer history, I was intrigued, especially as the very same chapter brought up the alleged Welsh origin of braggot.
West Country White Ale, also known as Devon White Ale, was apparently the popular drink in, you guessed it, the west of Britain for a few hundred years spanning the 1500’s to the 1800’s. The original drink was consumed very young, sometimes while still fermenting, and that won’t do by modern standards – especially if I am entering this in any sort of competition. I won’t reveal the recipe quite yet, but I’ll be brewing it soon and provide all the details in a follow up post.
The generic layout is that the beer will be a majority pale malt, with a good portion of wheat malt, and some flaked oats to round it out. I chose buckwheat as my honey varietal hoping that the low amount will lend a discernible but no over powering flavour in the 10 gal batch I plan to do. I also plan to riff on the name of the beer a little and use malts from Michgan’s Pilot Malt House, which is conveniently located in western Michigan, and I live in the west of my county. It works on so many levels!
As an added bonus, I’m thinking that this might be an interesting beer to split batch and co-pitch half with my recently acquired BaltiFunk Mega Blend.
The recipe for the beer I made is here: West Country White Ale I also went ahead with split batch with half as a sour. I’ll post tasting notes on it the clean batch soon, along with any feedback from the club judging session this weekend.
For now, here’s some pellicle porn from BaltiFunk Mega Blend Batch: