From the HBD Archive
From: (Jeff Frane)
Subject: wheat & Belgian yeast
Date: 1992-07-14 19:01:44 GMT

John Freeborg asks:

>With summer in full swing I plan to do a wheat beer. I picked
>up the special Wyeast wheat beer yeast, but have yet to get
>the wheat malt. From reading in Miller's book it says for a
>wheat beer that you must use 6-row malt in the mash with the
>wheat. The reasoning is that the wheat has no enzymes to break
>down the sugars, and 6-row has a ton of enzymes (compared to
>2-row anyways).

>What is the hbd consensus? Any great wheat recipes people swear by?

>From my own experience, I have to save Dave Miller is way off on
this. I have brewed with a ratio as high as 65/35 wheat/2-row
barley without any problems. It's possible that the difference
has to do with the sort of 2-row Dave has access to; he comes from
the midwest and here in the Northwest we use Great Western's 2-row
(which seems to be a blend of Klages and Harrington these days).

It may also have something to do with the quality of the wheat
malt. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that he uses the stuff from
Briess, which I wouldn't feed to the ducks. I've used either the
British or the German wheat malts to excellent effect; both are big
fat grains (with no barley mixed in as has been the case in the past
with Briess).

Rob Bradley says:

>Prospective users of Wyeast Belgian should still be aware of
>one point: the yeast is slow. I'm not talking about a lag in
>getting started, rather that the yeast seems to take forever
>in finishing. On the other hand, I received e-mail from
>Larry Barello who tells me that his techniques of yeast
>washing (described in the HBD more than a month ago) might
>cure this problem. I intend to try it when the the weather
>cools off (come to think of it, maybe I don't need to wait!).

Once again, my own experience has been completely the opposite,
and I've heard the same here in the HBD. I brewed with this
yeast strain last fall, and the beer went from 1.072 to 1.012 in
five days. This is not what I'd call a slow yeast!

It's entirely possible that the problem is a lack of oxygen in
the wort. A shortage of O2 will not necessarily be reflected in
a long lag time, but will definitely cause an almost-endless
fermentation. It's also possible that you under-pitched; I
definitely worked my up from the original bag through starters
before pitching the yeast into such a high-gravity wort.

If the yeast is not working well for you from the original
Wyeast supply, then washing it isn't likely to help. Washing
the yeast pack from the fermenter before storing it in the
refrigerator is another story.

- --Jeff Frane

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