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Apr 13, 2009 11:17 PM

Belgian Witbeir Brewing Tips

Boyfriend likes to brew beer with the kits you can get at MoreBeer! or MoreFlavor! etc...
He's stuck with ales so far because he doesnt have any kind of specialty equipment aside from a large pot, carboy, and some tubing - and ales ferment at room temp.

I got him a belgian witbeir kit, and it includes all the ingredients, but does anyone have any tips for us on brewing? We've never brewed with wheat or oats before...

On that note, does anyone have tips on brewing lager? Is it possible without special equipment? How do you keep the fermentation temperature cold and constant?

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  1. You might want to check on a more home brewing-oriented site. What I can tell you about brewing witbier is that it is a bit more advanced of a brewing process, because of the unmalted wheat, unless it's an extract-based witbier recipe. Lagers can be homebrewed provided you have a low temperature fermenting environment. If you don't live in a cold part of the country, then a refrigerator is what you'd want to use.

    1. Witbier is actually quite easy to brew. Don't let the naysayers scare you off.

      The main problem with witbier is, if you're doing a partial-mash or full-mash, the wheat gluten gets things a little sticky, and the mash tun can have problems draining. Since you're using a kit, this shouldn't be a problem, as I imagine you're in a mostly-extract brewing situation.

      My tips? Add a little fresh orange zest towards the end of your initial boil -- it will help bring out the more subtle elements from the dried peel that I'm sure they supplied in your kit. Additionally, you want your witbier to be nice and cloudy, which is hard to accomplish in an extract situation; whisk in a half-cup of white flour into your boil...a perfect way to get that classic haze.

      As for lager brewing, it is more hard -- I have a refrigerator set-up these days, but before, I would either ferment lagers in my basement (it's nice and cold down there), or outside, during the winter (just put it out each night and bring it back inside each morning -- the minor temperature change is not a major problem). Good luck!

      Oh, and as for your witbier, don't forget that those flavors have culinary uses too! This recipe is great with a tall glass of Allagash White:

      3 Replies
      1. re: burningpasta

        I would imagine if they're using a kit that it's extract based. There the main problem would be that the coloring would be much darker.

        1. re: jgg13

          Yup, probably end up darker than what a wit usually looks like. Can minimize some darkening by adding the extract towards the end of the boil.

          1. re: LStaff

            As an extract guy myself, I've also found DME helps with the lighter colored beers, it doesn't darken as much as LME.

            As odd as it sounds, the best purely-extract (ie no minimash) wit I've had came from Mr Beer products. I forget what they call it, the deluxe line or something like that, but the wit one is actually a "wit extract" which helps a lot.

      2. Brewing with wheat and/or oats could cause a stuck mash if your using grains. If this is an extract brew then you should be fine. I would not recommend adding flour to your beer just for the sake of having a cloudy beer. You really should consider moving to all grain brewing. It is not nearly as daunting as one might think. All grain will give you many more options to fine tune your beer to what you want.

        For lagers the idea of using a fridge for fermentation is a great idea as it keeps fermentation temps constant. Provided you're not opening and closing the fridge. Ideally you would have two refrigerators, one for normal food use and one for your lager.

        If you don't own it already then I'd suggest picking up a copy of The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian. It is considered the bible of home brewing to many home brewers.

        Good luck! Relax, have a home brew!

        1. One of the keys to a good wit imo, is the type of coriander used. You want to use Indian coriander which is oblong in shape vs. the round seeds found in most supermarkets and homebrew shops. The Indian coriander will give a nice bright lemony flavor to your wit instead of the vegetal/celery like flavors that the round shaped coriander gives.

          1. If you're using a liquid yeast from White Labs or Wyeast that's specifically for Belgian white, I wouldn't ferment it cold. My experience (old now that my brewing is long lapsed) with the Wyeast version was that it liked temps in the low 70s. That's higher than most other ales if you want to avoid off flavors.