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Homebrew #101: Lazy Rabbit

by Rob Friesel

With summer coming, it seemed I should brew some kind of easy-drinking sessionable beer. Something simple. Like an American Wheat that I could use as a glorified starter for an up-coming Wheatwine. Thus was Lazy Rabbit formulated.

My first thought was to riff on the now defunct Chasing Rabbits,1 but looking over my tasting notes and an old sell sheet, I thought maybe that’s kinda more of a wheaty IPA? Then I remembered Weikert’s article on the style, and decided to turn out something that was… almost exactly what he spelled out in there.

Brew Day

After some very minor hiccups with my mill,2 I got down to business, reminding myself to take it easy and just let it be a leisurely brew day. Mashed in just a bit on the high side, but left the lid off for a few minutes.

Lazy Rabbit brew day

Mash pH of 5.56 adjusted with lactic acid down to 5.2. Pre-boil volume of 6.4 gallons and gravity of 1.041.3

Lazy Rabbit brew day

I planned for a 30 minute boil, did a little on-the-fly math around the gravity and volume, and decided to add 5 minutes to the front. Then, with about 5 minutes remaining, took another gravity reading and decided to add 5 minutes at the end.

Chilling, etc. Into the fermentor: 5.25 gallons at 1.051 original gravity. (It was supposed to be 1.048 so… Oops? I guess I should have stuck with my original 30 minute boil?)

Lazy Rabbit brew day

Fermentation

I’d built up the yeast with a 1 liter starter to get a slightly-more-than-adequate cell count. When the wort had sufficiently cooled (i.e., 62ºF), I decanted the starter down to approximately 500 ml and pitched that. Set the controller for 62±1ºF and… let it ferment.

After about 52 hours post-pitch, the activity in the blow-off bucket had all but completely stopped. I took a small sample for gravity. The refractometer showed 6.4ºBx which BeerSmith converted to 1.009. Could it be “done” already? Given that 1.011 was the estimated F.G., it certainly could be.

I took another gravity reading two days later and 5.6ºBx which BeerSmith converted to 1.004.4 And as for that tiny sample? It was still tasting like a young beer.

I decided to give the beer at least a few more days to mature and let those yeast flocc out. But things got a little hectic on the home front and a couple of days turned into two weeks which … given that I planned to re-pitch probably wasn’t the worst idea.5

But I got it into a keg, and I got it on gas, and I got it tapped.

Overall Impressions

It’s a bit hoppier than I’d planned, but it’ll do the trick.

Lazy Rabbit

AROMA. Malt goes to medium-low grainy-sweet and a low doughy impression. Hops are moderate pine into herbal and a low citrus pith character. Clean fermentation overall — some low indistinct fruity esters, but otherwise no significant detectable off-aromas.

APPEARANCE. Vibrant yellow bordering on pale gold. White head that pours frothy and has excellent retention. Decidedly hazy but no suspended particulates — not murky.

FLAVOR. Flavors largely follow aroma. Malt character is medium grainy-sweet into moderate bread with a very low doughy impression. Hops are moderate pine and herbal flavors (almost minty?) with a medium-low citrus character. Bitterness is medium-low and soft. Clean overall fermentation with light fruity esters. Balance is mostly even but leans noticeably to hops. Off-dry finish that just misses the mark for crisp. Noticeable alcohol on the palate.

MOUTHFEEL. Medium-light body. Carbonation is just on the high side of medium; lively but not prickly. Perceptible alcohol warming. No significant creaminess. No detectable astringency.

OVERALL IMPRESSION. Very good example of the style,6 and could be excellent with some minor tweaking. Malt character seems about right, but it’s a little too hoppy and that throws it out of balance. Fermentation was well-managed, but the alcohol is detectable here in a style that should be more sessionable and easy-drinking. Recommend dropping gravity a couple of points and dialing back the late hops. That said, it’s a pleasing beer to drink.

While American Wheat Beers have not historically been my favorite style, there are a couple that I’ve enjoyed immensely — Gumballhead and Oberon come immediately to mind. I’m iffy on my own interpretation here. The malt character is one that I like, but it’s overshadowed by the hops — and the hops are… not the best combination. (The individual components are each appropriate for the style, but they’re over-done and don’t fully marry synergistically.) Were I to make this again, I’d probably cut the late hops by half, and probably just stick with one varietal.

That said — this will be a fine beer to have sitting out on the back deck as it warms up around here.

Recipe

The all-grain (BIAB) recipe for Lazy Rabbit is as follows:

Water Chemistry

Starting with the Seattle municipal water profile (carbon filtered) as a base, target the Yellow Balanced profile in BeerSmith for:

Target values in ppm
Ca Mg Na SO₄ Cl⁻ HCO₃⁻
51.3 9.2 6.2 74.4 59.2 22.9

Grist

  • 4 lb. 8 oz. Skagit Valley Copeland Pale
  • 4 lb. 8 oz. Great Western White Wheat

Hop Schedule

  • 0.4 oz. Warrior (30 min.)
  • 1 oz. Chinook (10 min. steep/whirlpool at 170ºF)
  • 1 oz. Motueka (10 min. steep/whirlpool at 170ºF)

Yeast

Wyeast 1056 American Ale (1000 ml starter)

Brew Day

  1. Collect 27.34 qt. water and heat to 159.6°F. Mash in; hold at 152.1°F for 75 minutes. No mash out.
  2. Remove filter bag from water. Squeeze filter bag to extract as much liquid as possible for wort. No sparge. Pre-boil volume should be 6.2 gallons.
  3. Bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes; follow hop schedule as described above.
  4. Cool to 62°F as rapidly as possible. Post-boil volume should be approx. 5.25 gallons.
  5. Aerate wort; pitch 1056 yeast from starter.
  6. Start fermentation at 62°F.

Beyond Brew Day

  1. Allow fermentation to complete (approx. 2 weeks) at approx. 62±1°F.
  2. Raise temperature a few degrees for a diacetyl rest if necessary.
  3. Keg and force carbonate to 2.6 volumes.
  4. Enjoy!

Details

Lazy Rabbit an American Wheat Beer by Tilde Gravitywerks

Original Gravity 1.051
Final Gravity 1.006
ABV 5.9%
Attenuation 87.8%
IBU __
SRM 4
Links Flickr
  1. And/but/so yes — the name I chose was absolutely an homage to that beer, even if it wound up going in a different direction. []
  2. Which — aside — that’s becoming a bit of a regular occurrence and is starting to bum me out. []
  3. Refractometer was reading 10.3ºBx and that seemed about right to me. Even if you can never trust a refractometer. []
  4. Which… that seemed too low. Lying bastard refractometer. []
  5. In other words: the yeast was probably better served sitting under the maturing beer rather than in a Mason jar in the refrigerator. []
  6. I did a scoresheet here at home and came up with a 34. That said, this is also me being pretty lenient with myself around the individual components. I could be talked down to the high end of the good range. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night; weekend homebrewer. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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