Friday, March 7, 2008

Brewing Wheat Wine

Old Pappy California Wheat Wine is in the tank, thanks to the help of The Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton (right). Sean helped our brewery secure the whiskey barrels that will ultimately house Old Pappy so I was excited to have him in the brewery today to help with the brew.

The grist is fairly simple consisting of 2-Row malted barley, malted white wheat, caramunich & carawheat. I have never used carawheat before and it is totally unlike anything I expected or have brewed with before. The malt tastes like a cross between grape nuts cereal and sunflower seeds and doesn't have much sweetness like I was expecting. The final impact of that grain on the beer should be interesting.

It is a big beer coming in at 25.8 degrees plato (1.109 SG) so depending on how the fermentation progresses it will be around 11% alcohol. It will be fermented with an English ale yeast, not a weizen strain so do not expect any banana or clove notes like a weizenbock. Think barleywine that happens to be brewed with a whole bunch of wheat malt.

After a month or so in the fermenter the entire batch will be transfered to the Van Winkle Whiskey Barrels where it will age from 3 to 7 months. The barrels are 23 years old and were emptied only 4 weeks ago so there should be lots of whiskey flavor there. The beer will be monitored closely to determine when it is ready to be removed and packaged. The idea is not to produce a beer that tastes like a shot of whiskey was added to it, but to add complexity and layers of flavor so timing is everything.

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