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Milled grains
Milled grains

Brewing a Dunkels Weissbier

Grist: Belgian 2-row Pale malt, White Wheat malt & Crystal 60L malt
– Belgian 2-row Pale malt
– White Wheat malt
– Crystal 60L malt

Previously in this series of articles on How to brew different Styles of Beer? we covered Brewing a Belgian Dubbel, this time the Beer Style comes from the ‘German Wheat Beer’ category in the BJCP 2014 Guidelines and is the style of a Dunkels Weissbier.

In the following sections we are going to examine different aspects of this style such as its background, the style guidelines, ingredients used, sample recipes, brewing process, and finally the outcome of brewing a batch of this beer.


Grist bill (cont): Chocolate Wheat malt, Caravienne malt & Honey malt
Grist bill (cont):
– Chocolate Wheat malt
– Caravienne malt
– Honey malt

Traditionally Bavarian wheat beers were dark and it was not until the second half of the 20th century that paler version became more popular with Dunkels being seen as an older person’s drink of choice.

When brewing this type of beer a decoction mash can add some richness to the beer but care is needed to avoid developing a caramel flavor that if too much can dominate the taste.

Commercial examples of this style include Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel, Ayinger Ur-Weisse, Franziskaner Dunkel Hefe-Weisse, Ettaler Weissbier Dunkel, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse Dark, Tucher Dunkles Hefe Weizen.


In the BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines Dunkelweizen was in the ‘German Wheat and Rye Beer’ category (see here), but now in the revised 2014 Guidelines the style has had a slight rename to Dunkels Weissbier and the category has been split with Rye Beer being moved out into the Historical Beers category leaving the German Wheat Beers together as follows:

BJCP 2014 BJCP 2008
Category 10: German Wheat Beer
15: German Wheat and Rye Beer
Styles 10A: Weissbier 15A: Weizen/Weissbier
10B: Dunkels Weissbier 15B: Dunkelweizen
10C: Wiezenbock 15C: Weizenbock
15D: Roggenbier (German Rye Beer)

In the new guidelines the vital statistics of the Dunkels Weissbier have remained unchanged as follows:

  • Original Gravity (OG) = 1.044 – 1.056
  • Final Gravity (FG) = 1.010 – 1.014
  • Alcohol By Volume (ABV) = 4.3 – 5.6%
  • Bitterness (IBUs) = 10 – 18
  • Color (SRM) = 14 – 23


Rice Hulls to avoid a stuck mash
Rice Hulls to avoid a stuck mash

According to the BJCP 2014 Guidelines the following are characteristic ingredients used in the brewing of a Dunkels Weissbier:

  • Malts: By German brewing tradition, at least 50% of the grist must be malted wheat, although some versions use up to 70%; the remainder is usually Munich, Vienna, or dark or caramel wheat malts, or Pilsner malt with color malt. A decoction mash is traditional, but infrequently used today.
  • Hops: Not specified.
  • Yeast: Weizen ale yeasts produce the typical spicy and fruity character, although extreme fermentation temperatures can affect the balance and produce off-flavors.
  • Water: Not specified.
  • Additions: Not specified.


Whilst searching for recipes for this style there were plenty for Hefe-weizens but not so many for Dunkels Weissbier. Below are a couple that I did manage to locate:

– Edelweiss Dunkel Weissbier –

Source: CloneBrews
Author: Tess & Mark Szamatulski

Hallertauer Hersbrucker hops
Hallertauer Hersbrucker hops


  • 4.75 Lb Belgian 2-row Pale malt
  • 4.25 Lb German Wheat malt
  • 9 oz German Dark Crystal malt
  • 4 oz Belgian Cara-Vienne malt
  • 2 oz Gambrinus Honey malt
  • 0.75 oz German Hallertau Hersbrucker (bittering – 90 mins)
  • Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen yeast or Wyeast 3333 German Wheat yeast


  • Mash @ 149 deg F (65 deg C)
  • Boil for 90 mins
  • Start fermentation at 67-73 deg F (19.5-22.5 deg C)
Weihenstephan Weizen yeast
Weihenstephan Weizen yeast


  • OG: 1.051 – 1.052
  • FG: 1.010-1.011
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • IBU: 12
  • SRM: 13-14


  • Malts: The guidelines suggest that Wheat malt should be 50% or higher, in this recipe Wheat makes up 42.5% of the grist.
  • Hops: A German noble hop variety is chosen which is what would be expected.
  • Yeast: The choice of yeast is that used by the oldest brewery in the world that is still in production.
  • Statistics: All the statistics are within style though the color is on the lighter end of the SRM range.

– Trigo Oscuro –

Source: Brewing Classic Styles
Author: Jamil Zainasheff and John J. Palmer

Initial Mash pH
Initial Mash pH


  • 2 Lb Continental Pilsner malt
  • 6.9 Lb Wheat malt
  • 3 Lb Munich malt
  • 6 oz Special “B” malt (120L)
  • 6 oz Crystal 40L malt
  • 2 oz Carafa Special II malt (430L)
  • 1 oz Hallertau (bittering – 90 mins)
  • White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale or Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen yeast


  • Mash @ 152 deg F (67 deg C)
  • Boil for 90 mins
  • Start fermentation at 62 deg F (16.5 deg C)
Mash pH after 30 mins
Mash pH after 30 mins


  • OG: 1.056
  • FG: 1.014
  • ABV: 5.6%
  • IBU: 16
  • SRM: 16


  • Malts: 53.5% of the grist is Wheat malt with some specialty malts for color making this recipe within style.
  • Hops: German noble hop variety for single bittering addition.
  • Yeast: Weizen yeasts which are within style.
  • Statistics: With the exception of color all of these statistics are towards the top of the characteristics ranges but still within style.


The recipe chosen for brewing this batch of Dunkels Weissbier was Edelweiss Dunkel Weissbier with the primary reason being  that is beer is a clone of a specific brand and a reminder of drinking this style when traveling many years ago in the Austrian Alps:

This Austrian dark wheat beer has a creamy, off-white head and is hazy amber in color. Enticing you with an aroma redolent of fruit, cloves, and bananas, it lives up to its promise with a palate of cloves, sweet fruit, and spice. It ends with a dry aftertaste and leaves you wanting more.

Brewing process steps
Brewing process steps

I tweaked the recipe as I did not have access to the German Dark Crystal malt and wanted to both up the percentage of Wheat malt in the grist plus hit the middle of the color range. Another addition were rice hulls to avoid a stuck mash due to how Wheat can gelatinize:

  • 1 Lb Rice Hulls
  • 4.75 Lb Belgian 2-row Pale malt
  • 4.25 White Wheat malt
  • 9 oz Crystal 60L malt
  • 6 oz Chocolate Wheat malt
  • 4 oz Caravienne malt
  • 2 oz Honey malt
  • 1 oz Hallertauer Hersbrucker (bittering – 90 mins)
  • Wyeast Weihenstephan Weizen yeast
Measuring Original Gravity
Measuring Original Gravity

The 5 gallon batch of beer was brewed following these steps:

  • Charcoal filtering the borough water and leaving it to stand overnight in order to vent off the chlorine.
  • Measuring out and milling the grains, also measuring out the hops and Irish Moss.
  • Sterilizing the fermentation equipment.
  • Heating the strike water to 151 deg F before mashing-in (adding the grist to the hot water).
  • Mashing for 90 mins at 149 deg F so the starches convert into sugars (pH 5.2 after 30 mins).
  • Raising the temperature to 168 deg F to mash-out and stop enzymatic activity i.e. halt the conversion of starches to sugars.
  • Removing the grain bag.
  • Boiling for 10 mins to allow time for the hot break to clear.
  • Continue boiling for 75 mins with the bittering hop addition.
  • Adding Irish Moss at 15 mins to help clear the beer.
  • A yeast starter was prepared comprising of 8 oz of DME (Dry Malt Extract) in two liters of water and placed in a flask on a stir plate together with one packet of yeast.
  • Yeast nutrient was added to the wort once it had been cooled.
  • Wort was aerated with Oxygen (60 secs) via a diffusing stone connected to an O2 tank with a regulator.
  • Yeast starter was decanted prior to pitching into the wort so that most of the spent wort did not go into the beer.
  • Primary fermentation was at 68 deg F for one week in a temperature controlled freezer.
  • The beer was racked off the trub (sediment) into the secondary fermenter and held at 68 deg F for a second week before cold crashing.
  • Beer was force carbonated to 2.75 volumes of CO2 after cooling the beer to 36 deg F.


Not quite 5 gals in carboy
Not quite 5 gals in carboy

According to the style guidelines a Dunkels Weissbier should have the following characteristics:

  • Appearance: Light copper to mahogany brown in color. A very thick, moussy, long-lasting off-white head is characteristic. The high protein content of wheat impairs clarity in this traditionally unfiltered style, although the level of haze is somewhat variable. Suspended yeast sediment can contribute to cloudiness.
  • Aroma: Moderate phenols (usually clove) and fruity esters (usually banana). The balance and intensity of the phenol and ester components can vary but the best examples are reasonably balanced. Optionally, a low to moderate vanilla character and/or faint bubblegum notes may be present, but should not dominate. Hop aroma ranges from low to none, and may be lightly floral, spicy, or herbal. A light to moderate wheat aroma (which might be perceived as bready, doughy or grainy) may be present and is often accompanied by a caramel, bread crust, or richer malt aroma. The malt aroma may moderate the phenols and esters somewhat.
  • Flavor: Low to moderately strong banana and clove flavor. The balance and intensity of the phenol and ester components can vary but the best examples are reasonably balanced and fairly prominent. Optionally, a very light to moderate vanilla character and/or faint bubblegum notes can accentuate the banana flavor, sweetness and roundness; neither should be dominant if present. The soft, somewhat bready, doughy, or grainy flavor of wheat is complementary, as is a richer caramel, toast, or bread crust flavor. The malty richness can be low to medium-high, and supports the yeast character. A roasted malt character is inappropriate. A spicy, herbal, or floral hop flavor is very low to none, and hop bitterness is very low to low. Well-rounded, flavorful, often somewhat malty palate with a relatively dry finish.
  • Mouth-feel: Medium-light to medium-full body. The texture of wheat as well as yeast in suspension imparts the sensation of a fluffy, creamy fullness that may progress to a lighter finish, aided by moderate to high carbonation. Effervescent.
  • Overall: A moderately dark German wheat beer with a distinctive banana-and-clove yeast character, supported by a toasted bread or caramel malt flavor. Highly carbonated and refreshing, with a creamy, fluffy texture and light finish that encourages drinking.

How did my batch of Dunkels Weissbier turn out?

Measuring Interim Gravity
Measuring Interim Gravity

The Original Gravity was a bit high but hit the top of the range within the style guidelines. The Finishing Gravity was right on the numbers but due to the OG the alcohol content ended up a bit high for the style. Although the color was in theory correct going by how the brewing software calculated the SRM from the recipe, in the end it seemed a bit darker than expected.

Perhaps it might have been better to steep the Chocolate Wheat malt in hot water and add that late in the boil rather than adding the grain to the mash.

Here are the actual vital statistics:

  • OG: 1.056
  • FG: 1.011
  • ABV: 5.9%
  • Bitterness: 13.2 IBUs*
  • Color: 16.7 SRM*

* calculated via BeerSmith software.

The tasting notes are as follows:

Red in color with a light tan head and clear appearance. A banana and clove aroma. Flavor is banana, clove and some dark caramel. Medium to high carbonation with a slight tingle on the tongue.

Sampling resulting beer
Sampling resulting beer

Overall the beer came out great  and I am very happy with the aroma and taste but I did make one error by adding gelatine to clear it when cold crashing. Weissbiers should be a bit cloudy from suspended yeast and in fact if you order a bottled version in Germany or Austria the bar tender will pour half into the glass then place the bottle on its side and roll it to mix the yeast into the beer then pour the contents into the glass – this gives both the cloudy appearance but also some sweetness. The error happened because I was working with 4 beers at the same time so was on auto-pilot… next time a bit more focus and less haste!

What’s Next?

In my next article in this series I will be examining Brewing a Kolsch which is in the ‘Pale Bitter European Beer’ category so please check back for that article to be published.

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