Belgian Witbier Roundup and Recipe

Written by Damon on December 14, 2008

The last of my Belgian Wits is now ready so I’d like to do a little roundup of the whole project.

I wanted to do at least three large batches and three small batches, but, because the yeast (Wyeast 3944 Belgian Wit) was so slow, I only did 2 large batches and 3 small batches. Of the 3 small batches, 2 were very experimental (Chanterelle and Burnt Orange) and can’t really be called Witbier. So that leaves me with three batches for comparison. Don’t worry, I’ll get posts up for both of the experimental beers soon.

In between the first and second large batch, I bought a quality scale and switched from measuring spices by volume to measuring by weight. This would seem to make comparison a little more difficult, but, as you will see, there’s only one recipe I expect to anyone to try to follow.

My goals were to get a better handle on spicing while trying to clone the Abbey de Floreffe Blanche. I had the beer last summer and loved it. I was able to detect a slight hint of anise and some lemon flavours, although I now know they use the Curacao orange typical of the style. As a bonus tip, the Floreffe beers taste a lot better on tap at the abbey rather than bottled.

Tasting the Witbiers

I used the same grain profile for all of these beers. My main goal was to get a better handle on spicing. Two of the recipes had spices added to the secondary instead of the boil.

All three of the beers were too clear for Witbier probably because I used a combination of wheat malt and wheat flakes instead of raw wheat. The OG was about 1.048 and they finished at a very well attenuated 1.005-1.007.

The first of these, I’ll call the Lemon-Anise Belgian Wit, had a little too much anise for my liking. Adding that amount of anise to the secondary results in bubblegum-like flavours.

For the second, which I’ll call Cilantro Witbier, I substituted fresh Cilantro for ground Coriander and, because I made the Cilantro Witbier at the same time as the Lemon-Anise Belgian Wit and didn’t know Anise in the secondary creates bubblegum flavours, added more anise. The combination of large amounts of anise in the secondary and cilantro tasted like candy. If ever you wanted to make and market beer to children, this would be it.

A Japanese ad for Children’s Beer that inspired:

The final beer, Almost Heaven Witbier, was excellent. Very close to the target. The aroma was there, but still not as strong as most Belgian Wits. The flavour was very close. The anise and coriander were in balance, but I couldn’t detect any citrus flavours.

Future Brews

Next time I try to brew this style, I will definitely use the Almost Heaven as a starting point. I’d like to try and get more yeast in the final beer. That will help cloud the beer a little, but I also hope it will bring out more aroma.

Recipes

  • 2.5 kgs (5.5 lbs) Pilsner Malt
  • 1.25 kgs (2.75 lbs) Wheat Flakes
  • 1.25 kgs (2.75 lbs) Wheat Malt
Name Adjunct Added At Batch Size
Lemon-Anise Belgian Wit 3 tsp Coriander Secondary 6 gallon / 23 L
2 tsp Anise Secondary
3/4 Lemon Peel Secondary
Cilantro Witbier Small Handfull Fresh Cilantro Secondary 1.25 gallon / 4.7 L
1 tsp Anise Secondary
1/4 Lemon Peel Secondary
Almost Heaven Witbier 6g Anise Boil 3 mins 6 gallon / 23 L
21g Coriander Boil 3 mins
8g Valencia Orange Peel Finish
3g Grapefruit Peel Finish