Watermelon Wheat 2015

>> Sunday, June 28, 2015

Time for another brew session. Today I'm brewing what I consider to be a quintessential summertime beer, Watermelon Wheat. You do have to really like watermelon to enjoy this beer, and I do. The watermelon really comes through in this beer in both the flavor and aroma. I haven't been able to figure out why, but this beer tends to age fairly well and the fragrant watermelon almost takes on a floral perfume-like quality with age.

I haven't made this beer in a long time, but it's always been a crowd pleaser. Usually I wait to brew this beer until late summer when the Green River Melons folks have started showing up at the local Farmers Market. It's still a bit early for that, but Sam's Club had seedless melons for $4 so I decided to pick a couple up. These early season melons tend to be hit or miss, but fortunately the ones I picked up turned out to be really good.

To prepare the fruit, a few days before brewday, I diced up the meat and used a potato masher to puree the melon. This was then poured through a strainer with the juice going into one container and the pulp into another. Both containers went into the freezer. Freezing the pulp will help break down the cell walls allowing us to extract a bit more juice. Freezing the juice just keeps it from going bad before we use it in secondary. I'll also be treating the juice with some potassium metabisulfite before adding it to secondary. This helps ensure we don't get any unexpected critters into the secondary.

For those that have never made a watermelon beer before, don't expect this beer to turn out pink. The red part of the melon drops out with the yeast, so you'll be left with a straw colored wheat beer.

I changed up a couple things this time, primarily the hops. I've been wanting to try Huell Melon hops for a while and based on the description, I think they'll work well in this beer.

6 lbs 8.0 oz Fruit - Watermelon
6 lbs Rahr Pale 2-Row
4 lbs White Wheat Malt
8.5g Columbus (60 min)
28g Huell Melon Hops (5 min)
Rice hulls
1 Pkgs US-05

Don't forget the rice hulls in the mash (helps avoid a stuck sparge). Mash at 152F for 1 hour, 90 minute boil, ferment at 62F

Add fruit to secondary

Brewing Notes
No issues with the brew session. Fermenter is currently in the ferm chamber chilling.

Update 7/9/2015
I thawed out the watermelon juice/pulp overnight and put it into the secondary today. I also added 1/8 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite dissolved into 1/4 cup RO water. This should help kill off any wild bugs that could have made it into the juice. This will sit overnight with a 1 gallon paint strainer bag stretched over the mouth (keeps bugs out while letting the juice off-gas). I'll rack the beer into the juice tomorrow. Oh and I ended up with about 1.5 gallons of juice.

Update 7/10/2015
Racked to secondary this morning. Believe it or not this pink beer will end up straw colored.
Update 7/20/2015
I started cold crashing this beer over the weekend to get the yeast and watermelon to drop. So far it's clearing up nicely but it still has a touch of pink. I'll let it continue to chill throughout the week before racking to a keg.

Update 11/22/2015
So this keg has been sitting around. The beer is good but my taste in beer has definitely changed since the last time I made it. One of the guys in my brew club brought an accidental sour watermelon saison to a meeting not too long ago. It was delicious. The lactic acid really brightened up the watermelon character. I decided to intentionally sour this beer and see what happens. For the souring, I added the oak cubes from the CS Experiment beer.

Update 5/27/2016
Pulled a little sample tonight. It's subtly sour right now, definitely much improved over the last time I tasted it. I'm going to let it ride a little longer and see what happens. It definitely seems to be heading in the right direction.