BAVARIAN HEFEWEIZEN #2 – Unrestricted Fermentation

As homebrewers, the lesson we never stop learning is the importance of timing. As I jaunted down to the homebrew store with my latest Hefe in hand, passing it off to the store owner I explained a bit about the recipe, process and aim for the beer, citing one of America’s best Hefeweizens from Live Oak as a source of inspiration. I would of course learn once again that timing is everything, as another customer came up to the counter sporting a ‘Live Oak’ shirt, introducing himself as an employee of the brewery. Of course I pounced at the opportunity to seed out some guidance on fermentation. His advice was simple,

‘That beer is all about horizontal fermentation.”


Back at home I hopped online, sifting for images of Live Oak’s FVs which are in fact, on their sides. Most of us have seen the billowing krausen atop open fermentors before but what is actually at play with this method? In the most basic form, it increases surface area which allows the top cropping yeast more access to oxygen during active fermentation. In turn this allows the yeast to produce more esters and phenols. Now how does a homebrewer implement this method?

A 5 gallon batch in a 6.5 gallon glass carboy has a volume of 1155 cubic inches and a surface area of 95 square inches, a ratio of ~12 to 1. A circular open fermentor with a 100 bbl capacity , say 4′ tall with a 12′ diameter has a ratio of 4 to 1. Luckily I picked up the carman which offers 195 cubic inches at its widest. Couple that with a 3.75 gallon batch and you have a ratio of 4.4 to 1. Close enough.


Recipe – Another iteration to the Never Ending Hefe. This time focusing on the method of increased surface area and access to oxygen during fermentation. The grain bill changed from my last iteration. Increased wheat malt and decreased pilsner for a more bready taste. Cara wheat for better head retention and Caramel 20 for a orange hue. A slightly higher mash temperature for a higher FG. Same practice of under pitching and under oxygenating.

  • Batch Size: 3.75 gallons
  • 4.75 lbs Wheat Malt
  • 2.5 lbs German Pilsner
  • 2 oz Cara Wheat
  • 1 oz Caramel 20
  • 5 mL Lactic Acid
  • 11 grams Hallertau Mittelfrueh @ 60 min
  • 20 Seconds Oxygen (2 micron stone)
  • 0.5 tsp Wyeast Nutrient
  • 5 grams WB-06 (rehydrated)

Specs –

  • OG: 1.050
  • Target FG: 1.012
  • SRM: 7.41
  • IBU: 5.1
  • ABV: 5.1%
  • Mash: 60min @ 154°, single infusion.
  • Boil: 60min
  • Fermentation temp: 70° and let rise up to 72°
  • Brewday Cost: $12.18
  • Brewday Time: 3:35 min



Brewday – 

Milled the grains morning of, filled the kettle and treated the water with lactic acid and campden. Mashed in at 162° which brought the temp down to ~154°. Held it there for 60 mins.



Sparged with the trusty colander up to 3.75 gallons and brought it to a boil, adding 11
grams Hallertau Mittelfrueh at 60 minutes. Boiled, cooled a prepared the yeast in 200mL 100°  sterile water.


Transferred to the Pyrex carboy at 70° and pitched the yeast.



Fermentation – The plan of action for this batch is to remove the airlock once it begins bubbling and replacing it with a sanitized tin foil cover to allow oxygen to flow without restriction.

1 day post Brewdown unrestricted fermentation open ferm wb-06 hefeweizenpitch – Airlock began bubbling, replaced with tin foil. Krausen forming by 12 hours. This time of year the house is a consistent 70°, perfect for these types of fermentation.

3 days post pitch –  Krausen has fallen, replaced tin foil with air lock.

14 days post pitch –  1.006, bottled to 3.0 Vol

Tasting – I think this yeast was simply the wrong yeast to try and muster esters out of. It reminded more of the old school American Hefe (Widmer etc) yeast than a proper Bavarian one. The grain bill, carbonation and mouth feel all tasted to style but the flavor was lacking. Back to WLP300 for the next experiment, really really precise temp control.


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