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Cane Island Alers – Big Brew Day! Wheat Beers Edition

Posted by Jeff on May 27, 2010

Last Saturday my local homebrew club, the Cane Island Alers (CIA), had our May meeting.  We decided that this would be our (almost) annual club big brew meeting.

That’s where we bring out the big club mash tun (AKA: the “MEGATUN”), get a few sacks of base grain and some specialty grain and brew one gigantic batch of beer that we split and boil amongst our individual brewpots.  This method usually yields around 50+ gallons of beer of varying gravities (the first runnings are usually taken to make a strong beer, and subsequent runnings are used to make beers of varying strengths).

This time we decided to do wheat beers.  Local up-and-coming brewery No Label Brewing Co. generously donated a 50 lb. bag of Two Row and a 50 lb. bag of Wheat Malt for our base grain (huge thanks!).

Water started heating around 6:00AM.

The first two batches we pulled off were some high gravity Wheat Wines.  High Gravity Beer Aficionado Chris Mittel pulled some as did brew day host, Jeff Royal.  Chris added some specialty grains and rice to his whereas Jeff just went with what came out of the tun.  I’m excited to try some from each!

Next, club member Keenan pulled off runnings and diluted down to make 2 five gallon batches in the 1.050 range.  One was going to be a hefeweizen and one a wit.

Then came me.  For my first batch I wanted to make an Amber Honey Wheat (American Wheat style).  I took 4 gallons of runnings and diluted it down to the 1.040 range.  To this I added some mini-mash of a pound of Crystal 55.   At the end of my boil, I added about pound of honey (Texas Wildflower).  For yeast, I went with California Ale yeast (WLP001).

As all that was boiling I snagged about 8 gallons of wort which I intended to split into two 4 gallon batches… but would have to boil later.

After my snags, the other Jeff was done with his wheat wine, so he went ahead and took enough (after dilution) for 10 gallons in the mid 1.040’s.  Post-boil, this would be split into two fermenters with two different yeasts.  One with a wit strain to make a wit bier that Jeff will add some orange peel and coriander during secondary fermentation.  The other got some Wyeast 3056 to make a nice hefeweizen that we were brewing for Brian Royo (founder of No Label who donated the grain).

And finally, Chris went back and took some 1.040-ish runnings to make a nice dunkelweizen, including some specialty grains he picked up for the batch.

The brew day “ended” around 3:00.  All in all we ended up brewing about 50 gallons of various wheat beers.

I say “ended” because I then took my 8 gallons home and boiled it (thus continuing brew day).  I ended up with 7 gallons of post-boil wort, so instead of splitting that into two 3.5 gallon batches, I just decided to do one 6 gallon batch and sacrifice the rest.  Pitched a nice healthy WLP570 yeast starter and we were good to go.  I’ll add some orange peel, coriander and French lavender to the secondary to make a nice wit!  (Wit recipe inspired by The Bruery’s Orchard White Ale).

It was a fine brewday and, needless to say, we should have plenty of beers to drink at the July meeting!  The weather cooperated, until around 12:00… but it was nothing a bottle of water and a glass of homebrew couldn’t take care of!

Cheers!

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