Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sweet Potato Wheat Wine

Sweet Potato 
Thanksgiving will be upon the American people soon. Thanksgiving is a time for family, feasts, reflection, and appreciation. I'd like to take that feast and replicate it inside a bottle of beer. Thanksgiving food for me is about a few things: turkey that no one likes, home made rolls that are to die for, and pies with fall appropriate spices.

Last fall I made a pumpkin ale, and it was alright. I think that the pumpkin might have taken something away from the mouth-feel of the beer. This would have happened if it was highly fermentable and threw off my calculations. Kyle liked the pumpkin batch a great deal but I wanted more. To get more I am going to re-interpret my beer as a wheat win. This will allow me to work in some body increasing ingredients as part of the base of the recipe.

(read more after the break.)

In order to improve the mouth feel I'm going to increase the finishing gravity, and change the style. I am going to allow some wiggle room in the event the sweet potatoes dry out the recipe. The white wheat malt is sweet and the flaked wheat adds body and flavor. The vienna malt is a quality base malt to add a biscuit-like complexity to the flavor. The melanoidin malt is my secret weapon here. This malt is super aromatic, the grain berry scent is unbelievable when you smell it. This is the largest portion of melanoidin malt I've used so I am unsure of the results. The British yeast will ferment a clean slightly malty beer. I am using nugget hops because they are strong bittering hops and I have a pound in my freezer to use up. If the sweet potatoes contribute any color it'll be right about 27.3 SRM, if they don't it'll be about 23.1 SRM.

More on Wheat Wines:

A quick look around the internet reveals a few descriptions of Wheat Wines as well as a few recipes and notes. describes a wheat wine as:
A somewhat recent and over-looked American strong ale, the Wheatwine (or Wheat Wine) is akin to a Barley Wine in strength, but contains a large portion of wheat malt; upwards of 50%. The wheat provides a soft and fluffy mouthfeel. Color and bitterness varies.
Beer Advocate also has a list of the top rated beers in this style. I've had a chance to sample five of the top twenty five beers in this style and I'd like to share some thoughts on the beers:

#3.) BBA Wheatmiser - Goose Island
Bourbon forward scent and flavor. It's well aged and offers hints of oak and vanilla. The sweet wheat flavors create a great palette to build upon.
#12.) Boogoop - Three Floyds
Hop forward at 80 ibus, buckwheat also comes forward in this brew. The darker malts drive this beer once you get past the hops.
#15.) Short's Anniversary Ale - Shorts
Crazy Flavors in the beer, the wheat wine is the palette on which this behemoth is built. Blood orange bitterness, combine with high hopping rates, and finished off with cracked green peppercorns. The wheat wine isn't the show here.
#21.) White Oak - The Bruery
This is a blend of a Wheat Wine and a Belgian Golden Strong Ale. The Wheat portion is aged in bourbon barrels to take on the flavors of oak and toast. This is perhaps my favorite on this list after the Wheatmiser. The normally strong flavors of Belgian yeast are well cut by the wheat wine, it's a great beer.
#22.) Pilgrim's Dole - New Holland
Malted wheat, un-malted wheat, caramel flavors, toffee flavors, and hinted chocolates. A good example of just how this style should taste. Living near New Holland Brewery I've had the chance to try various vintages of this beer and I can say that younger beers have more of a hop taste, and the beer ages beautifully.
One theme across all of those examples is that a wheat wine makes a good foundation to build upon. Wheat has a distinct flavor, but that flavor isn't overpowering. Among those flavors: bourbon, blood oranges, dry hopping, and hopefully sweet potato pie are all good flavors on top of a wheat wine.

Recipe Specifications:

Boil Size: 1.14 gal 
Batch Size (fermenter): .75 gal 
Estimated OG: 1.121 SG 
Estimated Color: 28.1 SRM 
Estimated IBU: 41.2 IBUs 
Boil Time: 75 Minutes 


1.0 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) 25.4 % 
14.0 oz White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) 22.2 % 
12.0 oz Sweet Potato (15.0 SRM) 19.1 %
12.0 oz Vienna Malt (3.8 SRM) 19.1 %
6.0 oz  Melanoidin Malt (30.0 SRM) 12.7 %
1.0 oz De-Bittered Black Malt (550.0 SRM) 1.5 % 
0.20 oz Nugget [13.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min 41.2 IBUs 
0.5 pkg Windsor Ale 

Spices @ Flameout

2.0 tsp Cinnamon
1.0 tsp Vanilla Extract
1.0 tsp Ginger
1.0 tsp Nutmeg
0.5 tsp Ground Cloves

Mash Schedule: BIAB, Medium Body Total 

Saccharification Add 6.79 qt of water at 164.4 F 153.5 F 75 min 
Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 7 min 168.0 F 10 min 
Sparge: Remove grains, and prepare to boil wort


I brewed too vigorously. The temp was too high. I boiled off too much and so the OG will be too high. The spices smelled great in the boil kettle. I hope it tastes how it smells in my glass later. This smelled just fantastic like a gingerbread cookie. It's about the shade of brown I thought so I bet my SRM for sweet potatoes was right on.

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