Rising Storm Witbier

I’ve been wanting to give a shot at brewing with wheat. I’ve always been somewhat intimidated by wheat due to it’s lack of tannins and limited shelf life. However, my cousin recently had a birthday and I promised I’d brew him his favorite beer, which just so happened to be a Belgian White Beer (or witbier). So I took this as a challenge to myself and told him I’d give wheat a shot and give him a case as my gift to him.

I searched around for some recipes and found one that sounded pretty good. It’s a clone recipe for Allagash White Ale I found on the Brew Dudes website. Unfortunately my local homebrew store lacked on a few ingredients (namely the yeast and german wheat) so I had to make a couple of substitutions (American wheat with the closest SRM I could get and Wyeast’s Witbier yeast).

I should also add this recipe included a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time using the batch sparge method over fly sparging, first time using my newly built brew sculpture, and my first time using mesh tea balls for hop and spice additions (seemed like a genius idea at the time).

I definitely learned a lot with this batch. For starters I’m never going to use the tea balls to hold hops again. I put each hop and spice addition into it’s own ball – ended up with two giant balls of hop mush. I’m willing to bet that it effected my IBUs. Next time I’ll be putting the mesh tea ball over my pickup tube and use it as a filter for the wort…hind sight is always 50/50…unfortunately.

Giant mushy hop ball anyone?

I’ve also learned that I now love batch sparging since it virtually cuts the sparge time in half and is much less strenuous, I just need to make sure I stir in between and hit my temperatures better next time…oh and a bigger HLT (Hot Liquid Tank) would be nice…

First time using this bad boy.

Another “ah crap” moment was the realization that I had my Fiance’s wine in my fermenting chamber with a temperature holding at approximately 2-3 degrees above the optimal temperature for the witbier yeast. Needless to say, I bit the bullet and threw the primary in with the damn wine.

Mmmm…boiling wort…

Needless to say, I’ve done a crap ton of things wrong with this batch. Mostly because I was being an impatient jackass. I know this beer probably isn’t going to turn out the way I had hoped, but whatever I get, I’ll be happy with…as long as it’s drinkable.

The Name:
I know, you’re probably asking yourself (if not, prepare to not give a crap) “why the hell is it called ‘Rising Storm’, sounds kind of ominous” well, thats cause it was. All the while I was brewing there was a constant threat of severe thunderstorms in the area. I lucked out and was able to finish the boil and get it into my porch for cooling before the storm hit.

I’ll be updating this post as time goes on. If this turns out like crap (most likely it will) you can bet your ass that I’ll be brewing with wheat again.

UPDATE 7/31/12:
So I racked the Witbier into secondary last night and I have to say, fermenting high (around 72-73) actually paid off! Not only did the gravity drop to 1.008 (which was supposed to be the FG if all went right) but it tastes great! It hits the palette with a nice citrusy flavor then dissipates with a smooth wheat-ie finish. The best part? It’s still got another 4 weeks until its 100% finished. I posted some pictures on the Facebook page, check it out!

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