I have been brewing hefeweizen since before the dawn of time (if we can agree time’s dawn was roughly 2012). My most recent attempt won a bronze medal in the final round of the largest beer competition in the world – so I’ve got that going for me.

My Winning Hefe | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original
My Winning Hefe | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original


I brewed my first hefeweizen in 2011 and it was pretty awful. I don’t think I’ve changed the recipe very much since then as hefes are not really about recipe.

My early hefes were undrinkably sulfury – not in a subtle SO2-way that fades into a nice banana, but in an in-your-face H2S-way that smells like liquefied rotten egg.

In 2012, I had a short email exchange with Jess Caudill, then of Wyeast, about sulfur and pitching rates for Wyeast 3068 (their Weihenstephan Weizen strain) that changed my perspective on pitching rates for hefes and greatly improved my beers:

We ran trials using 3068 at pitch rates of 3, 6, 12 and 24 million cells per ml. The 3 and 6 had strong banana aromas, the 12 million had very slight banana aroma and 24 million and no banana, and for a completely non-technical description, tasted like crap.

I stopped making starters for my hefe (or any of my beers actually). I’ve stopped doing cell-counts. I’ve stopped taking pH readings. I’ve stopped controlling my temperature outside of putting my fermenter in the basement where it stays cool.

I don’t own a hydrometer.

I don’t know that I would recommend any of these things.

Things I would recommend:

  • Increased nutrient during the boil
  • Low oxygen before pitching
  • Ferulic acid rest
  • Decoction mash
    • or maybe adding straight glucose to the kettle – I’ve never tried this, but I think it should achieve, roughly, what I get with a complicated mash
  • Leave as much cold break as possible in the kettle
  • Don’t overpitch
  • Use fresh vigorous yeast

I’m still learning new things about hefes all the time and mine is far from perfect (or finished). Things I’d like to try in future:

  • Stop adding oxygen post-boil
  • Double nutrient (again – I already do double the recommended rate)
  • Krausening
    • I’ve done this once
    • It turned out really nicely, but I didn’t do it for nationals
  • Double decoction
    • My mash schedule comes from Eric Warner’s German Wheat Beers – I’d like to try the more intense mash he wrote about

Brew Day

Here be dragons.

I brewed a hefeweizen for the 2nd round of nationals on 2018-05-22. This beer took 3rd in the German Wheat Beer category at the 2018 National Homebrew Competition besting 197 of the 200 entries in the category.



  • OG: 1.050
  • FG: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • IBU (Tensith): 12.3
  • Batch Size: 6 Gallons
  • Boil Time: 90 Minutes


Ingredient Amount % When
Weyermann® Pale Wheat 8 lbs 59 Mash
Root Shoot Odyssey Pilsner 4.75 lbs 35 Mash
Weyermann® Carahell® 12 oz 6 Mash


Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form Time
Hallertau 4.5 % 1.00 oz. 12.3 Loose Pellet 60 min


Strain Amount Starter
White Labs WLP300 1 New pack thing Nope


Collecting Water | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original
Collecting Water | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original

The water in Longmont is about as close to having reverse osmosis water straight from the tap as you’re going to find. For this brewday, I carbon-filtered 15 gallons of water that I recorded as having 42 ppm TDS according to my cheap meter.

I heated 8.25 gallons of water (which is 1.5 quarts of water per lb of grain + the 3 gallons of foundation water below my false-bottom) to 113°F targeting a dough-in temp of 111°F for a ferulic acid rest. At this point I haven’t added anything to my water or my mash. I want the pH to be high at this point.

Dough-in | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original
Dough-in | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original

I held 111°F for 10 minutes. I then recirculated while heating my mash tun to bring my temperature up to 125°F for a protein rest. I added 2 tsp. of gypsum before turning on my pump. That’s my standard water treatment, and I do the same thing for all my beers to increase the calcium content.

After 10 minutes at 125°F I pulled 10 scoops of thick mash (at about 1qt/lb) into my decoction pot while raising the main mash up to 148°F.

I held the main mash at 148°F while doing the decoction.

I first heated the decoction to 160°F and held for 15 minutes to ensure full conversion. Then I boiled for 20 minutes. I love the beautiful crème brûlée look of a mash after decoction:

mmmm Melanoidins | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original
mmmm Melanoidins | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original

After boiling the decoction I added it to the main mash to hit 158°F. I held that for 25 minutes before heating the mash to 170°F for mashout. I sparged with 170°F water (with no additions) to collect 9 gallons to boil for 90 minutes down to 7 gallons.

Boil with chiller | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original
Boil with chiller | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original

I added 1 oz Hallertau at 60 minutes.

1 tsp Wyeast nutrient at 10 minutes.

1 tablet of whirlfloc at 2 minutes.

From there I chilled using a pond-pump I bought at harbor freight to recirculate ice-water through my hydra chiller. I chilled to 55°F.

Right before pitch | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original
Right before pitch | Small | Medium | Large | Xlarge | Original

I oxygenated through a stone on the end of a wand for 1 minute at 1 liter per minute. After that I pitched a single pack of WLP300 dated 2018-05-03.

Post Brewday

  • 2018-05-23T0710-600: Bubbles in the airlock, no krausen, 60°F.
  • 2018-05-24T0638-600: 66°F, krausen to 6 gallon mark, light clove smell, mostly clean.
  • 2018-05-25T0621-600: 67°F, temperature peaked 2018-05-24 at 68°F. Smell is now all bananas and clove. Hopefully it’s not too subdued. Still has a big kreusen.
  • 2018-06-01T1200-600: 63°F for many days, pushed to keg from conical with CO2. Put in keggerator at 32°F @ 40 PSI.
  • 2018-06-16: Bottled using counter-pressure filler, labeled, stored in fridge.
  • 2018-06-18: Shipped 2nd-day air to Portland for nationals in a box lined with styrofoam with a few ice-packs.