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Beer Recipes of the Month

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German Wheat Beer

William Harrison's Wife's Ale (1577)

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German Wheat Beer (Weizen)


1 Can (3.3 lbs) Amber Unhopped Malt Extract 3 lbs Light Dry Malt Extract
3 lbs Wheat Malt 1 1/2 oz Hallertau Hops (boiling)
1/3 oz Willamette Hops (finishing) 1 TBS Gypsum
1 pkg Ale yeast 3/4 cup Corn Sugar (Dextroxe)

This German beer (pronounced "vy-tsen" or "vite-sen") is typical of Berlin style wheat beers. This recipe is fairly modern and makes 6 gallons.

Crush the wheat grains with a rolling pin, just enough to crack the grain. Heat 3 quarts of water to 158 degrees and add grains and gypsum. Mash for 1 hour, maintaining a temperature of 154 to 156 degrees. Strain out grains, pouring water into 2nd pot. Heat 2 quarts of water to 170 degrees and use it to rinse the grains. Add all the extract (liquid and dry) and the boiling hops. Boil for 30 minutes. Add finishing hops during last 2 minutes of the boil. Put 2 gallons water into primary fermenter and add hot malt mixture. Make sure final volume is 6 gallons. Pitch the yeast, cover, and attach airlock. Ferment for 10 days, rack and ferment 4 more days. Rack again, add 3/4 cup of priming sugar and bottle.

Allow 6 weeks in the bottle for maturation.

William Harrison's Wife's Ale

This Ale recipe was first published in 1577 in William Harrison's "A Description of England", and was found in Lost Country Life, by Dorothy Hartley, on page 192.  It is the recipe that William's wife used to brew for the two of them.

8 bushels of malt 1/2 oz Arras
1/2 bushel of Wheat meal 1/8 oz Bailberries
1/2 bushel of Oat Meal Handful of Wheat Flour
4 Lbs of the Best English Hops

Grind 8 bushels of Malted Barley, add 1/2 bushel of Wheat meal and 1/2 bushel of oat meal.  Mix until you can't tell them apart.  Pour on 80 gallons boiling water, letting it all rest with no stirring. 

Boil 80 gallons more, and when boiling, pour off the liquid of the first and adding the second to the mix.  Boil the first adding 2 pounds of the best English hops.   Let steep together for 2 hours in the summer, less in winter.  Reserve 8 gallons of the first in a closed vessel, which becomes yellow (brackwort or charwort), which yields not unto amber or gold color. 

Boil 80 gallons more with 2 pounds hops.  Finally, mix all 3 lots with 1/2 ounce of Arras, 1/2 of a quarter ounce of bailberries finely powdered, and a handful of wheat flour.  The brackwort is added. 

Proceedeth in such order as common brewing required.  Some add long pepper instead of arras and bailberries, but it is not as good in the opinion of my wife and I.    Makes 3 hogsheads. 


My translation figure out the amount of malt used in the recipe is: as follows:

8 bushels  x 8 gallons x 4 quarts x 4 cups x 1 lb = 512 lbs
1 bushel 1 gallon 1 quart 2 cups

Since there is nothing in the description about lettng the liquid boil for any length of time (to boil off some water), I assumed that all 240 gallons was accounted for, especially since a hogshead is 80 gallons. 

5/12 lbs (of malt) / 240 gallons = 2.133 lbs of malt per gallon.      For a 5 gallon batch, this is 10.6 pounds of malt.


11 lbs of barley malt Pinch Arras
2/3 lb of  Wheat meal 1/2 pinch Bailberries
2/3 lb of Oat Meal 1 tsp Wheat Flour
1 1/3 oz Kent Goldings  Hops 1 pack Doric Ale yeast

Crush the malt and mix with the wheat and oats.  Boil 1 1/2 gallons of water and pour it over the malt and meal mixture.  Because of the time that would hvae been required to boil "another 80 gallons", let this steep for at least one hour.   Put another 1 1/2 gallons of water on to boil.  When boiling, pour the liquor off the mash and pour on the second 1 1/2 gallons.  Boil the wort (the first 1 1/2 gal) with 2/3 oz of hops and let sit for two hours.  Boil the last 2 gallons, add 2/3 oz of hops and the spices and flour, turning off the heat.  Add the other 3 gallons of wort, and let it cool til "bloodwarm" (approx 90 deg F or cooler) and then add yeast. 

Let primary sit for a week, and then rack into secondary for another week.  Rack again, add 3/4 cup of priming sugar and bottle.  Allow 6 weeks in the bottle for maturation.

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