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Brewing with Wheat: The Wit and Weizen of World Wheat Beer Styles
By Stan Hieronymus

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Publisher: Brewers Publications, 2010.
Soft Cover, 216 pages, 5.5 x 8.5.
Item #1617

... See the Table of Contents
... Read an excerpt from the book

Author Stan Hieronymus visits the ancestral homes of the world's most interesting styles -- Hoegaarden, Kelheim, Leipzig, Berlin and even Portland, Oregon -- to sort myth from fact and find out how the beers are made today. Complete with brewing details and recipes for even the most curious brewer, and answers to compelling questions such as Why is my beer cloudy? and With or without lemon?

"In Brewing with Wheat Stan Hieronymus has given homebrewers, craft brewers, and beer enthusiasts alike a wheat-fueled flux-capacitor that will transport them from region to region around the world. This page-by-page journey will satisfy the reader's thirst for the knowledge, history, and science needed for producing and enjoying the wide spectrum of wheat beers."
--Sam Calagione, founder, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

"Stan Hieronymus has filled a giant, gaping hole in the beer literature with this book. And once again, he has done it with crisp, engaging prose, loaded with rock solid information, much of it directly from those who brew these delicious but technically challenging beers every day."
--Randy Mosher, author of Radical Brewing and Tasting Beer


Foreword By Yvan De Baets
About the Book

Part I - Wheat, the Other Brewing Grain
      1 Wheat, Beer, and Bread
      2 Wheat Basics: Why Is My Beer Cloudy?
               Partly Cloudy to Cloudy
               Twenty-First Century Solutions
               You Say 4-Vinyl Guaiacol, I Say Clove
               The German View

Part II - The White Beers of Belgium
      3 In Search of the Real Belgian White
               Biere Blanche de Louvain
               The Peeterman
               Biere de Hougaerde
      4 The Six Degrees of Pierre Celis
               It All Started With a White
               The Best-Selling American Wheat Beer Ever
               Treating the Spices Right
               Acting Green and Looking White
               Two Times White Is Still White
               A Taste of Leuven?
      5 A Recipe for Wit

Part III - The Weiss Beers of Southern Germany
      6 A Fallen Style Returns to Glory
      7 Bavarian Tradition With a Wyoming Accent
               Meet the Other Schneider
               The Beers Are Smoked, The Wheat Isn't
               An Open Fermentation Policy
               Making Adjustments in New Jersey
               Don't Be Nice to Weiss
8 A Recipe for Hefeweizen

Part IV - The Wheat Beers of America
      9 A Hefeweizen By Any Other Name . . .
      10 Brewing in a Melting Pot
               Beer From America's Breadbasket
               A Midsummer Night's Dream
               Summer Ale on the Oregon Coast
               Wheat Wine: The Beer
               A Beer for the Punk Comic Crowd
      11 Two Recipes for Wheat Wine

Part V - Wheat Beers From the Past
      12 Beers the Reinheitsgebot Never Met
      13 The Care and Brewing of Relics
      14 Four Resurrected Recipes

Part VI - Putting It All Together
      15 Judging and Enjoying, Brewing Tips Included
                Belgian White/Wit
                German Weizens
                American Wheat
                Berliner Weisse
                Don't Forget the Pour

Part V - End Matter
Appendix - Yeast charts


Before considering how this book is organized, here are four things to pay attention to throughout:

Wheat is not a style. It's an ingredient that contributes to flavor in a variety of ways. In order to give this book some structure we'll use generally accepted style guidelines to consider various beers, but don't forget either what unites wheat beers or makes them different than the others.

Wheat is not the only ingredient in wheat beers. But you should know it's there. Spaten brews Franziskaner Hefeweissbier with 70 percent wheat, more than in most wheat beers. That means barley malt still makes up 30 percent of the grist. In Belgian White ales spices change the flavors and aromas. Although wheat, the ingredient, adds positive characteristics, such as better head retention, if you are going to bother brewing a wheat beer you'll probably be happier if a drinker can notice the wheat.

Fermentation. The yeast strains used to ferment many of these beers are not forgiving. They share more in common with strains used with strong Belgian ales than they do with English (and now American) strains. In simple, perhaps over-simplified, terms: for Belgian strong ales the goal is to balance esters and higher alcohols; for weizen beers to find a balance between esters (banana and other fruits) and phenols (clove); and in wit beers to balance yeast-generated spiciness against actual spices without wrecking the beer's delicate simplicity.

Bottle conditioning. Wheat beers are effervescent, so should be carbonated at higher levels than lagers and many ales. That's not possible with most draft systems, and requires a little extra effort when bottle-conditioning. As German brewer Josef Schneider says, "It's like sex and Champagne, worth the bother." Strong bottle-conditioned beers make excellent candidates for aging, to see what flavors develop over time. Most wheat beers do not, more often losing their delicate character and developing unpleasant flavors.

In Part I of the book, we'll consider wheat, the grain, both as an ingredient in baking and in beer before brewers and drinkers identified "wheat beers" as something different. Eventually styles began to emerge, but wheat beers never quit changing. Some styles died and never returned, while others faded only to return more popular than ever. Chapter two examines why wheat beers look different and why they may taste different. There's a tiny bit of science involved, but if I can understand colloidal haze and 4-vinyl guaiacol (translation: cloudiness and cloves) so can you.

The next four parts are organized in much the same way. Each includes three chapters, beginning with an overview and some history of the styles, then visits to well known and not so well known breweries, finally offering a recipe or four contributed by an accomplished brewer.

Part II focuses on the white ales of Belgium, which were brewed for hundreds of years before Pierre Celis picked one recipe and revived Belgian white or wit biers. Brewer/historian Yvan De Baets helps us understand the intricate processes used by breweries around Leuven before the twentieth century, then we'll step into modern brewhouses from Flanders in Belgium to Portland, Maine. Jean-Francois Gravel of Dieu du Ciel! in Montreal provides the recipe.

In Part III we'll revisit the southern German hefeweizen beers featured in German Wheat Beers. Weissbierbrauerei Schneider & Sohn, the largest brewery still using all traditional methods, represents both history and employs thoroughly modern practices. In 2009 America's largest ale brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing, set out to make the most traditional tasting hefeweizen widely distributed in the country, discovering that's not so easy in a brewery built for something else. Homebrewer Bill Aimonetti shares a recipe that's won awards in numerous competitions.

Part IV starts with the story of Widmer Hefeweizen, and includes many breweries that are American and brew with wheat but don't make beers that fit the standard "American wheat" guidelines. Beers such as Crack'd Wheat from New Glarus Brewing and Gumballhead from Three Floyds Brewing represent ongoing change, as does Jolly Pumpkin's Weizen Bam (a German hefeweizen gone "wild" in wooden barrels), one of many likely to further confuse efforts to classify wheat beers. Steven Pauwels of Boulevard Brewing and Todd Ashman of FiftyFifty Brewing then take two very different approaches in writing recipes for a wheat wine.

Visit Berlin and Leipzig in Part V to learn about Berliner weisse and Gose respectively. Curiously, more American brewers are taking a shot at making beers that goes by those names than anywhere else, including Germany. For recipes, Kristen England starts with his carefully researched award-winning recipe for Berliner weisse, then explains his affection for Gose, Lichtenhainer and Grätzer (also known as Gridziski).

Part VI wraps things up, with a closer look at "brewing to style," many examples of these beers by the numbers, suggestions for better understanding the various styles, and tips for doing a better job if you judge them.

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