Simple and refreshing, our American Wheat/Rye beer has just hit the kegs. While we work on a name for it we decided to go ahead and introduce the style as well as detail the recipe.
Having a “rye-ters block” coming up with the name for our rye beer. Sci-fi fans make your pick:
— Ugly Stick (@uglystickbeer) May 11, 2016
Introduction to American Wheat/Rye Beer
American Wheat Beer (Category 1D) falls under the “Standard American Beer” moniker per BJCP guidelines. What that means is that it is intended to be crowd pleasing beer for the masses with relatively simple, approachable flavors. In other words, it should serve as a good introduction to craft beer for those who have only experienced North American lagers.
Now before you dismiss this style as “plebeian pale ale” keep in mind that, while lacking in complexity, American Wheat still requires skill to design and brew. There are no hugely complex malt and hop profiles for faults to hind behind in this style of beer. As such, it is a great showcase of a brewer’s ability to brew a clean, refreshing ale. The style also allows enough variation in hop quantity and character so as to not completely stifle the brewer’s creativity.
Classic Examples of American Wheat Beer:
Anchor Summer Beer
Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer
Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale
Three Floyds Gumballhead
As with other wheat beers, American wheat is expected to pour with a large prominent head that lingers all the way to the bottom of the glass. It is a pale yellow beer that is often hazy or cloudy due to the high wheat content, although some will be clear. It will have a medium-light to medium body, which may often be perceived as “creamy” or “fluffy”. You can expect this style to be highly carbonated.
The low to moderate malt aromas and flavors reflect the high wheat content and will often be described as doughy and bready. Hops may be present to a varying degree, with low to moderate expression being acceptable. Hop selection is at the discretion of the brewer but those that present citrus, spice, flowers and fruit have a tendency to blend well with the malt backbone.
A defining feature of this style versus other wheat beers is that it will have a clean yeast profile versus most international styles. That is, it will not present with the banana and cloves associated with Belgian Witbiers or German Weizens.
Mild cheeses such as chevre and fresh mozza
Disclaimer: For the benefit of those readers who are beer-lovers but not homebrewers (and really, it’s time to reevaluate your life) – if you don’t care about recipe design and discussion, stop here!
“Alternative Grain Beer” or “How to sound even more like a hipster when discussing craft beer”
“That’s a lot of talk about wheat for an article about rye beer” says you. Well, Steve, if you were to go back only a few years you would find that BJCP lumped American Wheat and Rye beers into a single category before being split up in 2015. That leaves us with a much less cut and dry definition for what makes an “American Rye Beer”. With that in mind, I designed my recipe as an “alternative grain” recipe for American Wheat beer. An “American Wheat featuring Rye” if you will. It’s a legit homebrew category. Look it up. BJCP 31A.
(note:Recipe best viewed in “landscape” if on mobile)
American Rye Beer Recipe – Commander Rye-Ker
|Batch Size||Boil Time||IBU||SRM||Est. OG||Est. FG||ABV|
|5.5 gal||60 min||22.0 IBUs||4.0 SRM||1.048||1.011||4.9 %|
|Name||Cat.||OG Range||FG Range||IBU||SRM||Carb||ABV|
|American Wheat Beer||1 D||1.04 - 1.055||1.008 - 1.013||15 - 30||3 - 6||2.4 - 3||4 - 5.5 %|
|Pale Malt (2 Row) US||4.75 lbs||50|
|Wheat - White Malt (Briess)||2.75 lbs||28.95|
|Rye Malt (Briess)||2 lbs||21.05|
|Amarillo||11 g||60 min||First Wort||Pellet||8.2|
|Amarillo||16 g||15 min||Boil||Pellet||8.2|
|Amarillo||17 g||0 min||Boil||Pellet||8.2|
|Whirlfloc Tablet||1.00 Items||15 min||Boil||Fining|
|Safale American (US-05)||DCL/Fermentis||77%||59°F - 75°F|
|Protein Rest||134.6°F||20 min|
|Mash Out||168°F||10 min|
|I mashed in at a ratio of 1.5qts of water per pound of grain. A temperature step mash with a protein rest was used as I have the ability to do so but if you do not then a single infusion at around 152F should suffice.
I batch sparged to reach a preboil volume of ~6.75 gallons. I boiled off around a gallon over the hour. Accounting for cooling shrinkage this leaves us with 5.5 gallons into the fermenter.
This beer was fermented near 18C/65F for about 2 weeks.
|Download this recipe's BeerXML file|
Reading about another guy drinking a beer:
I stuck this at the bottom as we’ll call this reading “extra credit”. I’m not going to score my own beer as that’s a no win situation but here are some tasting notes, for those interested in deciding if this is a recipe that may suit them.
Appearance: Poured with a prominent white rocky head. Head persisted to cover about half of the surface area of the beer but not as much as I would expect from the style. Quite hazy but still see through. Significant lacing down the glass. Between 3.5 and 4 SRM.
Aroma: Mild hop aroma that mainly comes across as fruity, lemony and slightly floral. Sweet, doughy malt melds with the hops well so it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. White pepper spiciness, likely from the rye, is present, but not obtrusive. Clean yeast profile. No banana esters or clove phenols. No off aromas detected.
Mouthfeel: Body perhaps slightly thin for style and would not fall into the “creamy” or “fluffy” category. Moderately carbonated. No astringency noted.
Flavor: Sweet doughy malt up front is followed by some moderate, supportive bitterness that immediately clears away the sweetness leaving a grainy, dry finish. Bitterness lingers slightly into the finish as does a slight bit of acidity. Low hop flavor which is floral with a touch of sweet orange or tangerine. As with the aroma, a slight rye spiciness is notable but definitely not in your face. It supports the wheat without taking center stage.
Overall: A very refreshing easy drinking beer. The rye character is present but restrained and is in balance with the sweet, doughy, wheat character. Personally, I would like to see a bit more of a citrusy character from the hops and would try a different variety next time such as Citra or Zythos. Again, personal preference, but I found the finish was a bit too dry for my tastes, though I could see how it would appeal to North American lager drinkers.
In spite of a few issues I was very happy with this beer. I think it was well made and most of the tweaking I would do would be more to suit my personal tastes. While I will not score it I would personally expect it to fall in the “Excellent” tier of BJCP.
As one final side note, as I researched this article I came to realize that this beer was designed very similar to Three Floyd’s Gumballhead. They add significantly more late hops, though it is still Amarillo all the way through. Of course there’s does not have rye either.