Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wheat beer?

Today I face a new challenge. Not that this is anything new.

We were lucky enough to grow a little bit of wheat here in Eastern Colorado this year. This is the first crop of wheat to come off of this land in well over 25 years. We have grown other crops, but wheat was my dad's first love.  I think he'd be pretty damn happy with nearly 6,000 bushels from our little 100 acre field. That's just over 330,000 pounds.... WAIT!  I'm in the wrong business! Most brew stores sell red wheat for about $1.70 a pound.... I could have retired! But alas, we don't sell it that way!

 To commemorate such an event, I'm obviously going to brew something. But what to make? I'm not a big fan of wheat bears as such. I love some beers that have wheat in them, so that is likely the direction I'll take.

 Anyone who has ever brewed with wheat knows that she is a grouchy grain, and will reach up and smack you on the back of the head at any given moment. For this reason, most people stick to flaked wheat and keep it a relatively low percentage of the grain bill. I'm not one to do what "Most" people do! But again, you knew that going in!

Lambics and Belgians often contain quite a bit of raw wheat, so I'll likely head that rout. I want to make something that is a drink right away beer, and something that will spend years in the basement, so I'm thinking I may do a bastardized IPA with almost 50% of the grain bill being raw wheat. Obviously this is going to create some issues with the lautering process, but I think with a nice long protein rest and perhaps a decoction (and about a ton of rice hulls), I should be able to make it work.

For my second brew, I'm thinking I may do a coffee quad! essentially, I'm going to use my normal quad recipe and just replace half of everything with raw wheat. I don't want an over the top coffee presence, so I'll likely just add a cup or two of beans to the secondary and let the beer take what it wants.

 I should end up with an OG of around 1.100 or better, and if the wheat works out like I think it will, I should end up in the vicinity of 1.025 or so. If the gravity stays too high, I'm not opposed to adding additional sugar to thin things out!

That said, I'm also not opposed to aging a beer syrup for years on end. As long as there are enough initial hops and a sufficient alcohol content to prevent anything wonky, It's all a grand experiment, and what fun to see how it comes out! 

I don't know where this project will end up, but I'll be sure to let you know.

Have a great week, and Happy Brewing!

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