After the Blizzard of 2010, which buried our neighborhood in more than three feet of snow and inspired Blizzard Bitter, I had a craving for warm summer days, wheat beer and citrus.
I love the winter, but enough is enough!
So I dreamed up Here Comes Summer Wheat Ale, which is made with half malt and half wheat, and is a very pleasant, easy to drink brew.
Here Comes Summer Wheat Ale is mildly hopped to make sure the other flavors — spruce, coriander and orange — get a chance to toy with your taste buds. None of these flavors are terribly assertive. There’s just enough for the discerning palate.
Except maybe the spruce.
I had a great experience with a spruce beer once, long ago, when I used cuttings from the Christmas tree for flavoring. My wife thought I was crazy, but the beer was excellent.
Then I had a horrible experience with spruce extract. I used too much and made a medicinal, nasty brew that I simply couldn’t drink.
This time I was very careful with the spruce. You might want to try this one as I have it, and then if you want to experiment, you might try doubling the spruce extract to see what happens.
1 pound Crystal 20 malt
1 3.3 pound can Briess Golden Light
1 3.3 pound can Briess Bavarian Wheat
1 ounce Amarillo hops
1 ounce Liberty hops
1/2 teaspoon spruce essence
1 tablespoon freshly ground coriander seed
the zest of one orange
1 teaspoon Irish Moss
Put the Crystal malt in a grain bag and add to 2 gallons of cold water. Slowly bring the water to 150 F and let the grains soak for 10 minutes.
Remove the grains, add the malt and wheat extract and give it a good stir. (If you let the extract sit on the bottom of the pot, you’ll carmelize it.) Bring it to a boil.
Add the Amarillo hops and the spruce essence.
While it’s boiling you’ve got work to do. You can crush the whole coriander seeds in a mortal and pestle and grate the orange peel. (If you have one of those four-sided graters, use the fine side.)
Of course you should also have a homebrew at hand while you’re doing this, and you should be listening to your favorite tunes. Homebrewing is about enjoying life!
Add the coriander and Irish Moss at 50 minutes. Add the zest of the orange and the Liberty hops at the end of the boil (60 minutes).
Transfer to your sterilized fermentation bucket and add cold water to make 5 gallons. Cool the wort and pitch the yeast.
I should note that some homebrewers recommend a full wort boil. They would say that you should boil the whole 5 gallons (actually 6, and boil it down to 5) rather than boiling a portion and diluting later.
If you choose to do it this way, you’ll increase your hop utilization. That is, you’ll get more hop bitterness in a 5-gallon boil than you’ll get if you follow my procedure. I’ve never done a head to head comparison, so I can’t say how much difference there will be.
Another possible benefit of a full wort boil is lessening the danger of contamination when you add unboiled water. (Save us!) But I don’t think that’s a big problem. Municipal water in America is very safe. (You drink it every day, don’t you?)
Also, there’s an advantage to doing a partial boil and topping off. Your tap water has plenty of oxygen in it from the little aerator in the end of your spigot, and the yeast needs lots of oxygen to get started.
So if you choose to do a full wort boil, make sure you do something to get oxygen in the wort — like a vigorous stir!