First Tasting: Dunkelweizen (Beer #24)

November 28, 2011 by Jack

The Dunkelweizen Jess and I brewed four weeks ago has been tapped for about a week, so it’s time for a first tasting. This isn’t really the first time I’m tasting it – I took some really young beer to the T.R.A.S.H. meeting last weekend at North Country Brewing – but close enough. Here we go:

Soft hazy brown. Cloudiness from suspended yeast – not just wheat haze. It’s a good looking beer, and should look better when the yeast fully drops. Three finger beige head that falls over the course of several minutes to a ring around the glass. The head is loosely-packed, not very foamy or fluffy.

Very nice German Weizen phenols – banana and clove. Well balanced phenols, not the punch you in the face kind. Wheat and yeast aroma are well pronounced, too. A hint of toastiness, but not like you’d expect from a Dunkelweizen. Breathe deep and you’ll get some milk chocolate, but have to work too hard to experience it. Phenols, yeast, and wheat dominate and don’t get much support from the malt.

Muted. Some wheat and toasted bread. A bit of chestnut. Clove, but not overwhelming. Not as much banana as you get in the aroma. It tastes fine – no flaws, and has great fermentation phenolic characteristics – but it is underwhelming.

Thin and watery. The carbonation brings a creaminess but it can’t hide that the beer, itself, has no body. There’s a piquant acidic sharpness that doesn’t feel right. It kind of reminds me of some of my earlier attempts at brewing from extract kits years ago in this way.

Overall Impression
At first whiff, you think you have a great beer in your hand. The German phenols are at just the right level – a testament to the 62°F fermentation temperature suggested by Jamil in Brewing Classic Styles. But then you take another smell, looking to see what lies beyond the banana and clove, and you find that there’s not much more. There’s some malt character, but not like you’d expect. And it doesn’t stand up to compliment the yeast characteristics. Then you taste it and your suspicion of underwhelming malt character is confirmed. You find yourself drinking a thin, low flavor beer, the kind that’s not bad enough to want to dump, but where you want to hurry up and finish it to move on to something better. I’ve had commercial beers that left me feeling the same way.

Overall I feel that the beer is balanced and well-fermented, it’s just lacking anything to excite the drinker. I think it all comes down to one problem in the brewing process – mash efficiency. I was targeting a 1.056 OG but came in at 1.047. Those 9 points are significant in a smallish beer and accound for the lack of malt character that this beer suffers from. The sharpness I described in the Mouthfeel section might be attributable to the youth of the beer. I think it might age out after a year or two. Will the beer morph into something great? Unlikely. But it’s already plenty drinkable and should get a little better before it gets worse.

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