Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Wheat Wine - the First Edition

8/24/05 - Wheat Wine - Smuttynose Vs. The Feds: or how our heroic brewers spent the summer stickin' it to the man. We finally convinced the bureaucrats that Wheat Wine isn't actually all that confusing, in fact it's fairly straight forward. For those of you who haven't heard, we brewed the Wheat Wine in April and have been waiting on label approval since. The governments intention was that regular folk out there would be unable to understand what a Wheat Wine denotes. As if Smirnoff Ice is obviously not a vodka drink but a malt beverage. Anywho, we finally managed to get ahold of a person of reason who allowed us to use the term, though with a bit of explanation beneath as you can see on the label. The beer however has been aging nicely, though stocks have dwindled thanks to Charlie.

I'd been toying around with the idea of brewing a Wheat Wine for a while now. I first tasted one at the Craft Brewers Conference in Portland a few years ago. Terri Fahrendorf from Steelhead had brought some to the banquet and it was awesome. Best beer I tried out there. I didn't have much of an opportunity to brew one until I was asked to start overseeing the Portsmouth Brewery and helping with some quality issues there. I quickly decided this was the perfect chance to brew a Wheat Wine as well as some other styles I'd been dreaming of trying. As an aside the Hop Harvest we did was spectacular, I wish we could afford to fly out that much unkilned hops for a Smutty sized batch, but alas some things are destined to be brewed in the smaller brewhouses of this world.

The Wheat Wine that Keith Gosselin and I came up with was also very well received. Unfortunately, in another casualty in scaling up in volume, we were unable to use only Golden Promise as our pale malt base, cause both the cost and the physical difficulty in schlepping that many bags up to the mill was a tad overwhelming. Anyway, we backed off the Golden Promise from 45% to 10% with the remaining pale malt being made up with our Pilsner silo malt. It hasn't made too big of a difference but it definitely changed the malt profile. The hopping was done with a mix of Warrior and Liberty and meant to balance the malt profile but not dominate. The biggest character is the alcohol presence. At around 11% ABV this is definitely worthy of it's Big Beer status. With all that alcohol flavor, Graham over at Flag Hill Winery suggested we add medium toast French (or should they be Freedom?) oak chips in with the dry hops to add a bit of that vanilla Chardonnay flavor. I think it added a nice level of complexity to the beer as well as a bit of dryness.

Pilsner malt
Golden promise
Cara wheat
Wheat malt
Cara hell

Cane sugar

OG - 23° p;
TG - 3.1° p
ABV - 11.0%

IBU 70
Bittering - Warrior
Flavoring - Liberty
Aroma - Liberty
Dry hops - Horizon (plus medium toast French oak chips)