As spring is in full motion and summer begins to creep up, the heat is getting really overbearing. Nothing like a nice cold, crisp beer to refresh the body. I wondered, what could I brew? Taking a look outside I noticed my peach tree, loaded with fruit.
It might be time to make a delicious peach Hefeweizen. Below are my steps to making a great wheat based beer recipe from scratch.
- Decide what style you want to make.
- Formulate the grain build, paying special attention to wheat and barley ratios.
- Choose hops to support the style, if you are brewing with fruit, find hops that match the fruit choice
- Pick a yeast for the style you are making
Simple enough process, you could probably just find a recipe online and run with it. Often its never that simple. You may be paying extra for ingredients that a simple substitution would save you tons of money.
There are Many Wheat Beer Styles
A variety of beers are traditionally made with wheat. Much of these beers actually utilize fruit as add added flavor. Wheat has a lower protein level than barley making it a lighter beverage. Perfect for adding fruit too!
Here is a list of traditional beers that are brewed with wheat.
- Hefeweizen is traditional German wheat beer. The very strict rules in Germany stifled wheat beer innovation.
- Witbier is the Belgian version of wheat beer. This beer is known for its experimentation.
- Lambic is a beer that whole fruits are typically added to. These ferment for long periods of time, upwards of a year.
- Gose is a beer that uses wheat along with interesting spices and notably salt.
Any of the above beers would be great to add fruit too, but some beers are more difficult than others. Lambics will also take far to long to be ready and I want something to ferment a little bit quicker.
For this experiment I’m going to choose to brew a peach Hefeweizen. I really enjoy the banana flavor that comes from the yeast used in Hefeweizen’s, it should be the perfect companion for the peaches.
Mixing this banana flavor with the peach in secondary should create nice mixture of peach and banana. I also want to get it soft and creamy for an overall enjoyable and refreshing beer on a hot day.
The Grain Build and Variations
To truly make a delicious peach Hefeweizen we really have to start out by make a great Hefeweizen. The peach is really just an addition to a traditional Hefeweizen, so lets take a look at what a classic Hefeweizen’s grain bill looks like.
For a Hefeweizen we will need to add at least 50% white wheat malt to the grain bill. This is how a classic German style Hefeweizen is made, although I have seen many recipe’s use malted wheat, I’m not entirely sure malted wheat is traditional. It may be that unmalted is more traditional, but it is very difficult to work with.
Base malt is pretty interesting with Hefeweizens. There are actually two since, at least 50% needs to be wheat. So we will need to look at buying higher quantities of two types of malt. This could actually save us some cash.
There are a few variations to the base malt that I have found. Lets take a look at the flavors and prices.
|White Wheat||Soft wheat great for any wheat beer style base. Can also be used in other beer for head retention.|
|Pilsner Malt||Great base malt for Belgian ales and wheat beers. Has a light malty flavor.|
|Pilsen Malt||Great malt for cream ales and pilsners quality top of the line malt can be substituted for pilsner malt if you want.|
Overall it looks like Northern Brewer has a better selection of wheat malt, and you can get it cheaper than MoreBeer.
Depending on what your favorite grain types are you could go either way since the costs are pretty close. The more grain you add the more important it is to buy in bulk in order to save money.
If we want to brew a cheaper Hefeweizen its probably best to go with the Briess Pilsen malt from Northern Brewer. So that leaves us with white wheat and Pilsen each at about 5 lbs coming to 10 lbs total. Coming in at a total price of $10.80.
Specialty malt can be added in order to mix up the flavor profile overall. But since we are adding peaches, I don’t think we need to add any more nuanced flavors to the beer.
Maybe once the recipe is complete if we need something extra we can revisit in the future. Right now lets save some cash.
Depending on how much malted wheat we decide to add, rice hulls might make a great addition to help filter during the lautering process. Its not necessary, but if you are using more than half wheat it will become more and more difficult.
If the thought of using rice while brewing interests you check out my article on brewing with rice.
Note on Peaches
As a side note, we could utilize peaches during the lautering process, but when it comes to efficient use of dollars, what you will get out of it is not worth the added cost. If we did experiment with it, and it turned out to be excellent, the benefit would be in pricing it higher than other beers.
For this exercise we will be adding the peaches to secondary fermentation, to get the most benefit.
The Most Common Hop Types and Prices
When it comes to hops in a Hefeweizen recipe we are trying to keep the bitterness low. It should be used to counteract some sweetness, but overall we need to push more fruitiness in aroma and flavor into the beer.
Hallertau is the most common type of hop that I have seen in Hefeweizen recipes. This noble hop has a mild aroma and a slightly fruity, spicy and flowery scent.
There are many types of Hallertau hops to choose from. This makes it a bit more interesting when choosing a hop type to add. But let’s take a look at the cost and variety.
|Hallertau Hops||Noble, Herbal|
|Hallertau Blanc||Floral, Fruity Tropical|
|Hersbrucker||Earthy, Citrus, Floral|
When it comes to hops it looks like MoreBeer really comes out ahead. Not only are you able to choose to buy in 2 oz increments but their variety seems to be a lot better. Prices also come in below Northern Brewer overall.
You can mix up the hops you are adding to the beer by adding interesting variations but in order to have a nice base to go off of its probably best to stick with one style and go from there.
If you were to add another style of hops, Lemondrop seems to be up and coming in the scene. This is pricier than other hops and again has a citrus flavor and aroma, not something I want in a peach beer.
Since we are making a peach flavored beer, staying away from any citrus flavor would be wise. I think Hallertau blanc will work well for this recipe.
Steps During the Boil
Hop additions used to be simple, but have now become more complicated as we learn how to use hops to their full potential. Bitterness comes from adding hops at the beginning of the boil, we want to avoid this with a Hefeweizen. Instead we want to balance sugar sweetness using the bittering method.
Now whirlpool additions have become more favorable to preserve aroma of hop oils. To be honest, I have not yet tried the whirlpool method of adding hops, but I might try to make two of these peach style recipes to see what kind of difference it makes.
Whether you decide to whirlpool or not you will need to add half an ounce of Halertau hops at the beginning of the boil. If you decide to choose another hop that’s fine to, since this stage is all about bittering.
Finishing the Boil
The remaining bulk of the hops will be added at this point. You can either whirlpool them in at flame out or just add them at 10-15 minutes near the end of the boil. Alternatively I’ve even seen some recipes step the hops in at equal amounts throughout.
Once the boil is done you can add a fining agent if you want, something like Irish moss. But these are meant to be cloudy beers anyways so its really your choice.
If you choose to add Peaches After the Boil
One thing you will want to lesson the impact of is the fruit haze you will get from adding peaches. You can do this by adding a pectic enzyme that will take control of the chill haze and reduce the impact of the proteins.
Peaches are pretty light so won’t have bad chill haze but adding the enzyme will ensure you don’t end up with it. I choose to not waste to much money on this and instead will add the peaches in secondary.
Yeast choice will be very important for this recipe, we want to get that very iconic banana flavor. This will work nicely with the peaches that we are going to add.
Lets take a look at what varieties of yeast are available and how much they cost.
|Yeast Type||Yeast Profile|
|White Labs Hefeweizen 380||citrus and apricot, minimal banana|
|White Labs 300 Hefeweizen||strong banana clove nose|
|White Labs Bavarian WLP 351||spicy clove|
|White Labs American Hef 320||slight banana clove|
You can typically buy dry yeast to save some money, but if you save your yeast its not going to matter that much. Buying liquid yeast is also easier to work with as you can just drop it right into the fermenter.
The difference between MoreBeer and Northern brewer is almost nonexistent. More Beer does have more variety though. What we are really looking for is the yeast profile.
I really want to have a strong banana to come out in this peach beer so there really is only one choice, and that is the white labs 300 Hefeweizen. Depending on how strong you want the banana clove, you could choose the American yeast instead.
Fermentation Temperature and Length
There is no specific amount of time that you should have your beer in primary fermentation. I like to wait at least a full week until I decide to move into secondary fermentation.
During the primary stage of fermentation you want to keep it around room temperature. You could start a bit lower in temp at 68F and then move it up to 74F.
This will decrease the amount of diacetyl that you will get from the beer. This is not actually necessary but something to think about. I’m not sure yet how it affects the beer overall.
Transfer to Secondary
You could technically add the peach mash or puree to the primary after you are finished without transfering containers, however since I’m allowing oxygen into the system I might as well transfer it.
This does two things. I will clear up the beer a bit and get rid of some trub and mess. The second is I will be able to add the puree or peach mash to the bottom of the carboy without disturbing trub or anything else that could cause problems.
Getting the Peaches Ready
If you are not using a peach puree but rather fresh peaches, which is better, you will need to make sure they are free from all bacteria and yeast. In order to do this they will need to be prepared ahead of time.
Brewing beer with fruit can be difficult so check out my other article if you are having trouble or scared when brewing with fruit.
Here are the steps for preparation:
- Peel and pit the peaches.
- Mash up the peaches, or pulse blend them.
- Heat them up in a pan on the stove-top, above a temperature of 170F.
- Freeze them in order to break up the cell walls, this lets out more peach flavor in fermentation.
- Make sure they are unfrozen at room temp and then add them to the carboy.
Once everything is all set in secondary, what a few more weeks before bottling. Remember after the bottling processes, you can wait another two weeks or longer, depending on how long it takes the flavor to settle in.
After creating this peach recipe the peach flavor came out too much. The acidity of the peaches blew off the Hefewiezen banana and clove flavor and I was left with no banana. All in all the beer did turn out very tasty. The featured photo is my finished peach Hefeweizen.