Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lelu Dallas Multipass Orange Vanilla Wheat

Lelu Dallas Multipass Orange Vanilla Wheat.

Yeah, that name is a handful.  I try to include the dominant flavor notes in a beer's name, but I also simpy gave this one a long name.

The story behind the name is kind of sad, honestly.  Once the beer was brewed, the orange and vanilla were the dominant flavors, and I tried to think of things that were orange and white colored.  I immediately thought of Milla Jovovich's character in Fifth Element - the orange hair and the white shirt.  Hence, "Lelu Dallas Multipass Orange Vanilla Wheat" was born.

Let me back up for a bit.  I've brewed an Orange Wheat each of the past two summers.  It's one of the first beers I made that was universally loved, so I try to brew a batch every year as a nice spring / summer quaffer.

I started thinking it was time for this beer when I was reading about yeast varieties one evening.

Yes, I spend my evenings reading about yeast varieties.

Don't judge me.


Anyway, I came across White Labs Kolsch yeast WLP029, and how it was actually recommended for American style wheat beers.  As the orange wheat has been so popular for me, I decided to make a variation on it using the Kolsch yeast.

The recipe is largely unchanged from my last attempt, although I cut the grain bill from 10.5 pounds down to 10 pounds:

4.5lb Wheat Malt
4.5lb 2-row Malt
1lb Caramel 40 (for color and sweetness)

1oz Cascade 6.8% @ 60min
1oz Centennial 9.2% @ 5 min
2oz Orange Peel (I peeled 2 naval oranges) @ 5min
1oz Cascade 6.8% Dry Hop
1 Vanilla bean dry hop

The 2oz of orange peel and the oranges I peeled it from.
You'll notice a bit of pith on the peeled orange slices.  Some people prefer to zest the orange or peel even thinner, as the pith will add some bitterness.  But with this beer, I didn't think the slight amount of bitterness it might contribute to be an issue.

I've gotten to the point now where there's not much to say about my brew days.  I have been using the same equipment for quite a while, and I tend to not even document my process anymore.  For this beer, it was mashed in at 151 and held for 60 minutes, and sparged with 170 degree water.

90 minute boil, with the Cascade added at 60 min, and the Centennial and orange peel at 5 minutes or less. 

Fermented with the Kolsch yeast in the low 60s, and it was done in about a week.  

Final Stats:
OG: 1.049
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.9%
IBU: 29

I liked the sample from the fermenter enough that I decided to try and amp up the flavors in the keg.  I thought that the orange was pleasantly strong, but I could use a bit more citrus and some sweetness to balance the tart.  So I added 1oz of Cascade hops and 1 vanilla bean in a hop bag to the keg.  I was shooting for a balanced beer where the vanilla was a subtle complement to the orange and other citrus flavors already present.

Unfortunately, I think the single vanilla bean was too much.  I also have simply left the vanilla bean in the keg, and maybe I should have pulled that out after a week or so.

Appearance: Crystal clear with a gorgeous rich white head.  Astonishingly clear for a wheat beer, although the 2 months it has been in the keg helped with that.
Aroma: Vanilla.  So much vanilla.  And a little orange.  The cascade dry hop is completely wasted as far as aroma, but it's contributing to the thick head.
Mouthfeel: Exactly right for a wheat.  A little bit of body but very drinkable and clean.
Taste: Punch of vanilla up front.  The sweetness really lingers the whole way through.  If you search for it, there's some hop bitterness, which may be accentuated by the orange peel.  Orange is a strong flavor, but really takes a backseat to the vanilla.  You can taste the hops due to the lack of any malt sweetness, but they are completely overpowered by the vanilla.  The wheat is very much there, contributing that "wheat" flavor that's hard to define.
Overall: Too much vanilla.  It would be better without the vanilla bean as a whole, or at least with less vanilla.  It's an interesting beer - I can totally drink this, and it's great on a hot day.  But I can recognize it is fundamentally flawed.

It makes me think about beers I could use vanilla in, as opposed to a hoppy wheat.  A malty German beer would probably handle it better.  I could see a Vanilla Oktoberfest being a crowd pleaser.  But I just don't think that the vanilla works with hoppy beers.

It also makes me think about how good this beer could have been without the vanilla.  With that said - I've had several "non-beer drinkers" tell me they can drink this beer because of the vanilla.  So it has that working for it, which is nice.  Still, for my personal tastes, I'll probably make this again with a bit more cascade and no vanilla.

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