How To Brew Weizenbock Beer

by Steve Thanos | Updated: August 30, 2020

Some consider a modern Weizenbock to be a combination of a Weissbier and a doppelbock. It contains a large portion of wheat in the grist and top-fermenting weiss yeast, but it actually has a layered maltiness and the strength of a bottom-fermented doppelbock.

Weizenbock, as we know them now, are actually closely aligned with the early bock beers.

Bock, initially brewed in Einbock in the 1300s, contained lower alcohol, but did include wheat and was top-fermented at cooler temperatures. Then bock brewing shifted to Munich in the 1600s, brewers changed the recipe to reflect their own brewing practices.

The wheat was dropped completely and the beer was fermented with a bottom fermenting lager yeast.

The Advantages of the Aristocracy

In 15th century Bavaria, brewing wheat beer was entirely controlled by the Degenberger family. Wheat beer was the choice of beer for the aristocracy and reigned supreme with the higher class. It was loved so much that the Reinheitsgebot purity law during this time was ignored for the aristocracy.

In 1602 the Degenberger family lineage ended without a true heir. The brewing of wheat beer was transferred to the Duchy of Bavaria and the ruling house of Wittelsbach. Ironically, the Wittelsbach were the authors of the

Reinheitsgebot. The control of wheat beer would remain with Wittelsbach for 265 years.

Schneider Saves the Day

With Weissbier in jeopardy because of declining sales and dark lagers gaining momentum, something had to be done. Georg Schneider comes to the rescue. Schneider was a brewer at the royal Bavarian Weisses Hofbrauhaus in Munich in the mid-1800s.

He managed to negotiate with King Ludwig III the right to brew wheat beers. It is uncertain why Schneider did this, but helped with a resurgence of Bavarian wheat beer.

Schneider and later his son, Georg the III, helped expand G. Schneider & Sohn. In 1905, Georg III died and his wife, Mathilde took over. She helped to institute the popularity of wiessbier, lager fermented doppelbocks, and the Weizenbock style. All of which can still be enjoyed today.

Style Profile for Weizenbock

Appearance

Interestingly enough there are both a pale and dark version of the Weizenbock style. The dark style is between a dark amber to a reddish brown, while the pale version is golden to honeyed amber. Both styles should contain a thick, moussy, long-lasting head.

With the suspension of the yeast sediment and high protein content of the wheat, a weizenbock is pretty cloudy. The pale version sports a white to slightly off-white foam head and the dark style has a light tan head.

Aroma

The pale version has a rich malt complexity of bready toastiness and a rich grainy sweetness. The dark version showcases the deep rich malt characteristics with Maillard reactions. There is a breadiness, toast, and subtle hints of caramel. No hop aroma is present in either versions.

The yeast character is moderately low to moderately high with aromas of banana, vanilla, and clove. The dark style has some dark fruit aromas such as plums, grapes, prunes, or rainsons coming through. Alcohol will contribute to some warming spiciness but should never come across as hot.

Mouthfeel

Highly carbonated. Full body with a creamy texture on the palate.

Taste

Much like the aroma, the flavor is malt centric. The pale style is more grainy, sweet breadiness with whispers of toast. The dark version has a deep toastiness and breadiness to the taste. There is a possibility of a slight caramel flavor as well. The yeast flavor character is low to medium banana, clove, vanilla flavors.

The dark version exhibits the dark fruity esters such as plums, grapes, raisins, and prunes. This style ages well and becomes more complex over time. Low hop bitterness with no hop flavor should be the expectation. Dry finish with subtle notes of alcohol without being hot.

Food Pairing

Dark examples of the style pair well with gamey meats such as venison, wild boar, and lamb. Also pairs well with grilled vegetables and meats; especially streak. Roasts and stews are also good alongside a nice weizenbock.

Pale examples of the style pair well with grilled chicken, pork tenderloin, and even duck. Smoked meats and sausage can also pair well. Seafood also works well.

Tips for Brewing your own Weizenbock

Grain

Wheat usually ranges up to 70% on the high end and 50% on the low end, no matter which color version you decide to brew. Pilsner malt can make up a small portion of the grain bill. Usually up to 25% can be added. Munich and/or Vienna malt can add complexity with a mix of malty, toasty, and bready flavors. For a pale version, no more than 10% between both Munich and Vienna malt.

In the dark version, 50% wheat, 40% Munich/Vienna, and the remaining 10% is rounded out by specialty grains. The specialty grains for a dark version can vary from the following: Medium Crystal (40-45 L, Honey Malt, Melanoidin, Special B, Chocolate, Pale Chocolate, Chocolate Rye, Chocolate Wheat, Caramunich, Carawheat, Carahell, Midnight Wheat.

When deciding on specialty malts, keep it within only two or three. Otherwise, the beer will become too cloyingly sweet and the flavors are muddled.

Hops

The only hop addition for the beer will be the bittering hops at the start of the boil. Any good German variety will do such as: Saaz, Hallertau Mittelfruh, Tettnang, Spalter, German Magnum, German Northern Brewer, Saphir.

Keep the bittering range at 15 to 30 IBUs. As the alcohol content rises, so should the IBUs. This will keep the beer in balance from the sweet maltiness to the bitterness of the hops.

Yeast

White Labs: Hefeweizen Ale WLP300, Bavarian Weizen WLP351.

WYeast: Weihenstephan Weizen 3068, Bavarian Wheat 3638.

Imperial Yeast Stefon G01

Dry Yeast: Mangrove Jack’s Bavarian Wheat M20.

Fermentation

Keep in mind pitching rate, aeration rates, and fermentation temperatures will all depend on what you want the finished beer to taste like. Each factor will either increase or decrease the banana esters and the clove phenols.

Weizenbock By the Numbers

  • Color Range: 6 – 25 SRM
  • Original Gravity: 1.064 – 1.090 OG
  • Final Gravity: 1.015 – 1.022 FG
  • IBU Range: 15 – 30
  • ABV Range: 6.5 – 9.0%

Martin Keen’s Weizenbock Recipe

Grain

52% 7 lbs Wheat Malt , Pale

26% 3 lb 8 oz Vienna Malt

15% 2lbs Munich Malt 10L

4% 8 oz Caramunch I

2 % 4 oz Chocolate Malt1

1% 4 oz Melanoidin

Hops

1.00 oz Perle Pellets – Boil 60.0 min

Yeast

1.0 pkg Hefeweizen Ale White Labs WLP300

Mash at 152°F (66°C) for 60 mins

Boil for 60 mins

Transcript: The Homebrew Challenge. After months of brewing German beer styles, I’ve reached the last one. It’s my last opportunity to butcher German pronunciation like Hallertau Mittelfrüh and Leichtbier. Today. I am brewing the dark wheat beer, the wheat of the winter called Weizenbock.

And I’m going to ferment this guy in this; a fermzilla, all rounder.

How To Brew Weizenbock Beer 6

Let’s take a look at ingredients for this beer. Now the base malt is basically a four to two to one ratio, roughly of wheat malt, vienna malt and Munich malt. So I have seven pounds of pale German wheat malt, and this is going to make up a little more than half the grist for the beer. Then I have three and a half pounds of the vienna malt and two pounds of Munich malt.

Then we have a few specialty malts that we’re going to add in as well. So we can really get that, that malty backbone that we’re looking for and also to get the color a little darker. So what I have is eight ounces of Cara Munich I and four ounces each of melanoma and malt and chocolate malt.

And because half of this beer is a wheat malt. Then I am going to be using some rice husks. I have eight ounces of rice hulls as well altogether. This is a pretty big beer at about 1.068

Now with this claw hammer system, I am mashing in this mesh basket here. And the recommendation is that actually to maximize efficiency with this system, you can double crush the grains. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve already run the grains through my mill and crushed them once. Now I’m going to move this onto my mash basket and then take these grains and crush them again and put them into here.

Now, while this is mashing, let’s talk about the fermentor. What I’ve got here is a fermzilla’s rounder. This was supplied to me by kegland. So plastic pvc fermentation vessel, but what makes it interesting and very different from say a carboy is that this is rated for pressure. You can store up to 35 PSI in here safely. Now this opens up all sorts of possibilities for how you can use this thing.

And the most obvious is pressure fermentation. Now pressure fermentation is when you perform the fermentation of the beer under pressure, typically about 10 PSI or so. And the advantage of that is that the fermentation happens much quicker. And it also gives a cleaner beer.

Now I’m not going to use this for pressure fermentation because the beer that we’re brewing today, Weizenbock, isn’t really a good candidate for it. We don’t want that sort of clean lagery taste from this thing we actually want some esthers, we don’t want them suppressed. And second reason you might do pressure fermentation is if you’re trying to maintain hop aromas, this isn’t a very hoppy beer, so it doesn’t really make sense to pressure ferment it.

However, I am going to take advantage of the pressure capabilities of this fermentor in a different way.

Let’s take a closer look at what this is. So first of all, there is a lid on top, and then we have this part here. This is a liquid tube, Oh, with a little float ball on the end of it. And what this does is it floats on top of the level of the beer. And it means that as you’re drawing beer up through this liquid post, you’re always taking the beer, but at the top of the fermentor.

And that capability, it makes it quite different from your typical dip tube in a keg, which always pulls beer from the lowest point in the vessel. It always pulls a beer from the bottom. This is going to be floating on top of the liquid and pulling it from the top. That means that you can use this thing to serve your beer. Once it’s done fermenting because all of the troop and whatnot is going to stay on the bottom. And we’re just going to pull from the cleared there on the top.

The other thing that is on here is a gas post, and this is all to do with the ability to keep pressure in here. So we have a little O-ring on there and this fit some very tight with this screwed on too. And with this gas post, we now have the ability to not only build up pressure in this fermenter, but also to be able to, to, uh, to remove it as well. So we can control how much pressure is in here at any given time.

So how am I going to use this with its pressure capabilities? Well, I’m going to use it for an entirely closed transfer from fermenter to keg. So the beer is going to ferment in here, and then when I’m ready to move it into the keg, I’m going to perform a pressurized transfer from this directly into my keg. And the beer will be completely protected from any oxygen exposure.

How am I going to do it? Well, I’m going to take advantage of another piece of kit as well. This was also provided by kegland and it is a spunding valve. Wow. I love that name.

So what this does is it regulates the amount of pressure that is in a vessel. So if I hook this up to my gas post, what I can do is I can regulate how much pressure is going to be in this fermenter at a maximum and then should the pressure, build any higher than that. Then the spunding valve will vent out that gas on this end here.

So what I’m going to do is I’m going to use my spunding valve initially as well, like an airlock. I’m going to set this to a PSI of about one or two. And if the pressure gets any more than that, and it will build as the beer ferments, then this spunding valve is going to let that pressure out.

I’ll then use this spunding valve again, when it comes to the transfer into the keg. And I’ll show you that when I get there, but yet all I really need to do is just clean this thing out with some sanitizer, with some starsan, just check that I’m fine, holding some pressure that I’ve tightened everything up correctly. And yeah, then it’s ready to start receiving some beer.

Now, there are 13 and a half pounds of grain in this kettle, which I now need to remove as I’m brewing by myself. Um, that really feel like doing it myself. And I actually have a tool that will help me.

As with the other wheat beers I’ve done, It is just bittering hops in this, no aroma or flavor hops. I am using one ounce of perle hops. And this will give me an IBU of about 24 or 25. So there’s definitely a bit more bitterness to this beer than some of the wheat beers I’ve done. Yeah. It’s just this one addition.

Now this delicious looking beer. This is the hefeweizen, which I brewed a few weeks ago and this one yeah. On the nose. Uh, yeah, yeah. Also on the taste, you’ve really got these esters coming through from the hefeweizen yeasts. So clovey a little bit bananary. It really is pretty delicious.

But the Weizenbock is going to be a little bit different to this. We’d expect to get much more of a bready malt characteristic and even a little bit of dark fruit.

So I filled this with staraan to sanitize it and just give it a shake. Um, and then I put 10 PSI of pressure in here, turned everything upside down to make sure there were no leaks. And it’s been sat here with a bit of pressure for about an hour now. So yeah, that’s still got some pressure in it. So that seems to be holding pretty strong.

The other piece of this puzzle is the spunding valve. I want this to be set to about sort of two or three PSI and anything more than that, it’s going to release the gas. So it’s kind of like my, my virtual airlock and the way I’ve done that is I filled this with 10 PSI of gas. And then I just opened this up until it got down to about three PSI and then closed it here. So now it’s holding steady at about two or three PSI. So I now know that this is connected to my fermentor. My fermentor will not build up more than two or three PSI of pressure. Now, in case there’s any doubt that this thing is still under pressure, yeah.

The yeast I’m going to add to this beer is WLP 300 half hefeweizen yeast, which is going to pitch in now and then going to put the top on this, put the spunding valve on and let it build some pressure.

Pressurized Transfer

Now it is a couple of weeks later. The fermentation on this guy went really well. The spunding valve used as an airlock seemed to work quite well. I need to need to dial in a little bit to make sure there was not more than a couple of PSI of pressure, but yeah, that worked nicely. So the beer has finished fermenting. It’s come down to 1.013, 6% beer, and now it’s time to do a completely pressurized transfer from this into a keg.

Now this keg has already been filled with sanitizer, and then I drain that sanitizer into another keg, which means now it’s just full of CO2.

And in fact, if I use my spunding valve here on the gas post of this keg, I can see there’s all about two PSI of pressure in here. Now what I’m going to do is I’m going to put a bit more pressure in this guy, say about five PSI, and then I’m going to connect the two up between the two liquid posts with this, and then the higher pressure that’s in here will move into this keg here.

Now, the next thing I need to do is make sure that that pressure that’s coming from here into this keg is released. Otherwise we’ll just stop the transfer. So I’m going to set this spunding valve to release any pressure. Once it gets above 2PSI. So this will always be at five PSI. This will be at two PSI and the beer should flow between the two completely free of any exposure to oxygen. Let’s give it a go.

And that will do it. So I’ve now got a keg full of my beer, I guess we could have carbonated the beer in the fermenter, but I decided just to use my usual process and I’ll I’ll, um, carbonate it, force carbonated in this keg here. And then if I just grab it here, you can see that there’s just all the troob at the bottom of this. Yeah, this is, this has worked really well.

Hi and welcome to the Homebrew Challenge. Very welcoming. So today then we’re going to try this, this beer. Now, Lauren, let me ask you two questions.

First of all, how do you feel about darker colored beers? I don’t like them. Okay. How do you feel about wheat beers? I kind of liked them. Yes. So this is going to be a, an interesting mix of, of beer styles here, because this is a wheat beer. Okay. Like the hefeweizen that we brewed, but it is a little bit darker, more of a Doppelbock characteristic.

So if you take a look at the color, first of all, this beer, we sort of went in the middle of a style guidelines for color. It’s not like black by any means, but it’s pretty dark, right? Yeah. Brown ale color. I would say something along those lines, what you might expect to get are some, some sort of summer fruity esthers, clove, maybe even vanilla banana. Um, but because this is a darker beer, there’s the possibility of dark fruits. I could see there’s like little fruity hints to it, for sure. All right. Let’s give it a try. Okay.

So wheat or dark? Both? I’m confused. Yeah. Both

So much like the aroma, this can have dark fruit flavors to it. I don’t think it has that. Would you say typically that sort of, um, dark fruit comes with a bit of age? Um, an actually just a little bit of oxygen introduced into things over time. So I think how this got aged a bit, maybe we would have picked some of that up, but right now, no, I don’t think so. I would feel like if it had age with the dark fruit, it would taste a little bit more tart. Yes. But should I don’t taste anything?

Yeah. Okay. So the other thing about this beer that’s notable is this is the last German beer that I’m making on the Homebrew Challenge after doing German beer styles for month. So IPAs next?? No, no IPA’s are coming, but there not next, so in honor of all of the wonderful beer styles of Germany, and we’ve sampled them all, let’s raise our glass and have a Brust! (Cheers.)

I am the former President of my homebrew club, Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts (PALE) in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL. I brew on my BIAB system with my incredibly patient and understanding wife, adorable 9 year old daughter, and 12 year old brew dog.