Watermelon Wheat in Glass…

On June 8, 2008, in Family and Friends, Food, Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

Boiling WatermelonThe Watermelon Wheat has been in carboys now for 3 days. It took off quickly and was off-gassing CO2 within four hours. As with all my wheat fermentations, this one shot out the blow-off tube in less than twelve hours. The wort had an interesting taste – not really a strong watermelon taste, but I didn’t expect that anyway. Surprisingly, the OG was way higher than I expected (seems like I just can’t make a small beer:) and came in at 1.069. The recipe projected an OG of 1.055, so I think another 14 points of gravity were extracted from the sugars in the watermelon, that were released during the boil.

The fermentation was fast and furious and today I pulled the blow-off tubes off and gave both the carboys a good swirl. I think this ale will be done pretty quickly and carbonated in the keg, in time for the 4th of July. Wheats are best enjoyed fresh:)

Thanks to Evan for the company, clean-up help and the great taco truck carne asada burrito!

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While I’m not much for fruity ales, I have been intrigued by the stories of 21st Amendment’s Watermelon Wheat ale. It was the buzz beer of several beer festivals a couple years back and 21st Amendment has made its name in the craft brewing business on its accolades. It is also interesting that it is only available in cans for retail packaging. At tonight’s Modesto Mashers homebrew club meeting, one of our members, who is in the craft brewing industry, told us that cans make for a more stable product, as well as being a more environmentally friendly retail package. His words were compelling. 21st Amendment was one for the first to return to cans, rather than bottles for its retail offerings. Oskar Blues Brewing, in Colorado, is also going back to cans for their retail packaging and I’d expect more craft brewers to do the same in the near future as it is actually cheaper than bottling.

Watermelon Wheat Ale LabelI’m looking for a quick turn-around, summer ale for the masses, that I can have ready for the July 4 holiday. I dug around the web looking for a clone recipe of 21st Amendment’s Watermelon Wheat, but there are very few existing recipes out there. I found several that use Williams Brewing’s watermelon extract flavoring, (and they even have an extract-based kit for a watermelon wheat ale) but I wanted a more traditional recipe using fresh fruit. I came up blank for an all-grain version of the recipe I wanted, so I decided to develop one of my own. I started out with a basic American Wheat ale recipe, and then was lucky to discover that one of my brew club buddies has some inside info on how much watermelon to use, as well as when to add it to the boil. The amount of watermelon works out to about 1.06 pounds per gallon of finished ale, with the watermelon cut into wedges, rind and all, added to the last ten minutes of the boil. 21st Amendment’s own site states that their Watermelon Wheat ale is a 5.5 ABV ale, with 17 IBUs, so I tweaked my basic American Wheat ale to match these numbers. Here are the details of the recipe:

Mark’s Watermelon Wheat
6-D American Wheat or Rye Beer

Size: 10.56 gal
Efficiency: 75.0%
Attenuation: 75.0%
Calories: 245.46 per 16.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.055 (1.040 – 1.055)
Terminal Gravity: 1.014 (1.008 – 1.013)
Color: 3.7 (3.0 – 6.0)
Alcohol: 5.44% (4.0% – 5.5%)
Bitterness: 17.02 (15.0 – 30.0)

2 tbsp 5.2 pH Stabilizer – added during mash
10.0 lbs Wheat Malt
11.0 lbs Standard 2-Row
0.5 lbs 2-Row Carapils® Malt
1.6 oz Willamette (5.0%) – added during boil, boiled 60.0 min
1.0 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10.0 min
1.0 oz Liberty (4.0%) – added during boil, boiled 10.0 min
10.6 lbs Watermelon (fresh) – added during boil, boiled 10.0 min
1.0 oz Liberty (4.0%) – added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
1600.0 mL White Labs WLP320 American Hefeweizen Ale

My budding brewing buddy, Evan, will be joining me this Thursday, at about noon, and taking away a five gallon prize of Watermelon Wheat Ale wort:) Hopefully this summer thirst quenching brew will be a hit!

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