Hoegaarden beer project kick off

I had initially wanted to taste the beer from my first project before i start another round of home brew (it’s 8 weeks since i bottled them and i will start tasting them only from 10 weeks onwards). Then i thought, what if run out of beer! So i quickly made preparation for the second round of home brew. I chose a completely different style of beer – wheat beer, just for variation. I don’t even need it to be close to the Hoegaarden beer.

In order to store the 34 bottles of beer from the first round, i bought another temperature regulator. Don’t ask me why, but i have another upright freezer at home which can hold 32 beer bottles. A chest freezer can probably hold more than 100 beer bottles, but what you place at the bottom is very hard to access afterwards. That said, i’m not suggesting that you get an upright freezer because the capacity is simply too small.

I took cues from my first round of home brew, which was quite frantic, and made changes to how i go about it. Firstly, i prepared 1 litre of ice and 4 litres of cold (5°C) water the night before. Instead of having the fermentation bucket outside, i placed it inside the chest freezer direct. This saves me the trouble of having to lift more than 30kg to move the filled fermentation bucket into the chest freezer, which would be accident prone. Also, on top of the ice and cold water, i topped up the fermentation bucket with water to get a total of 14 litres (the target for the Hoegaarden recipe is 19 litres). The chest freezer continued to work to cool down the water while i boiled the dried wheat malt, and by the time i poured the wort into the fermentation bucket, i had 14 litres of 5°C water inside, so there was no worry over pitching yeast at the wrong temperature (which was the case in my first round).

Ice slab and cold water in fermentation bucket, which is already sitting in my chest freezer
Ice slab and cold water in fermentation bucket, which is already sitting in my chest freezer

This time i also ensured that i got everything from inside the can of beer extract out by pouring hot water into the can, so there was no wastage. The recipe calls for using a pot that is at least 10 litres in capacity, which i don’t have at home. I adaptated by using 2 pots of 5 litres each. One pot was used for boiling the dried wheat malt and the other i used for mixing and warming up the beer extract. When the dried wheat malt reached boiling temperature, i poured a few ladles of it into the beer extract. There is no fixed method to go about it, as long as you get everything into the fermentation bucket in the end.

Unfortunately, i don’t have a thermometer that works properly, so i don’t know the actual final temperature of the content of the fermentation bucket, but when i let the temperature regulator sensor touch the fermentation bucket, i got a reading of 15-16°C, which was actually a little low but within the recommended working range of the yeast (15-23), and so i pitched the yeast and sealed the bucket. The temperature regulator was set to maintain 20°C. All in all, it still took me about an hour, but this was already an improvement over the last round.

The cost to make this Hoegaarden wheat beer is a little higher than the lager i made in my first round, since i had to get the yeast, dried wheat malt, hops and orange peel. These came up to S$32. When i visited ibrew, they didn’t have the WYeast 3944 yeast (which they sell at S$19!), so i made do with Safbrew WB-06. The Hoegaarden recipe also calls for coriander seeds, which i bought from BIGBOX for only S$1.35. These seeds are extremely fragrant, and indeed they smell like an ingredient used in the Hoegaarden beer. The total cost, including the beer kit, is about S$60. Since i get a total of up to 19 litres (there will be some wastage in the form of sediments), which equals no more than 28 bottles, it costs S$2.15 per bottle (660ml). That is certainly much cheaper than the real Hoegaarden, which usually cost at least S$3 per bottle (330ml).

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