Organic American Wheat with Rakau Hops – Haka

In 2009, I made a Gumballhead clone that turned out great and not too terribly far off the mark from the original. It even got a silver medal in the Dominion Cup for the Light Hybrid Beer category.  I wanted to make it again but, being me, I couldn’t make the same recipe twice.

In the end, I changed more things than I expected.

I wanted to keep the same grain base, which was almost a 50/50 split between American 2-Row and Wheat malt with a touch of Crystal 20L. The first was a single hopped beer of all Amarillo, so the real question was what hop did I want to highlight with this batch?

After some random conversations and stumbling around, I came across a New Zealand hop called Rakau. I could only find it on the Seven Bridges Cooperative website and it was described as having a “fruity character with tropical aroma highlights of passionfruit, mango, and peach.”

That sounded interesting and, since the Seven Bridges Coop is all about organic products, I decided to make the entire batch organic. After further conversations, and some advice from Bison Brewing, it didn’t appear that brewing an organic beer was in anyway different from the my normal brew day.

The only wild card was that I ordered the wrong yeast for the beer. I meant to get the WLP001 California Ale yeast, but accidentally asked for the WLP060, which is an American Ale Yeast Blend. The WLP060 is a mix of the WLP001 and two others strains, and sounds like it brings more of a lager character to the beer. This would accentuate the bitterness and the hops.   

These are the three organic grains: Crystal 20L, American 2-Row and Wheat Malt

These are the Horizon hops since the Rakau were pellets and really boring to photograph

The final change in the beer was a major one and completely accidental. In fact, it would be better labeled as a sloppy mistake. While putting this recipe into my brewing software, the Horizon hops defaulted to 0.25 ounces and I simply forgot to adjust it up to 1 ounce. Since Horizon is a 10.2% alpha acid hop AND it was added for the full 60 minute boil, it blew the IBUs off the top of these beer. Instead of being ~25 IBUs, like a normal American Wheat, this one is probably closer to 60 IBUs, like an American IPA.

I don’t what that spells for the beer. From my pre-carbonation tastings, it isn’t overwhleming bitter, but it certainly isn’t an American Wheat anymore. The hops are evolving. It is certainly like nothing I’ve made before.

It is named “Haka” for a traditional dance form of the Maori of New Zealand. I first saw this dance performed by the New Zealand All Blacks before a rugby game, and it was nothing but intensity and intimidation.

Just like this beer so far.

Haka – (Organic Rakau American Wheat)

Starting Gravity: 1.057 (4/3/11)
Final Gravity:  1.012 (5/4/11)
6.0% alcohol (by volume)
Apparent Attenuation: 78.1%
Real Attenuation: 64.0%

Mash (@150º 70 min)
5 lb American 2-Row
5 lb Wheat Malt
1 lb 20L Crystal Malt

1.00 oz Horizon Leaf Hops (10.2% AA) (60 min)
0.75 oz Rakau Pellet Hops (12.7% AA) (15 min)
1.00 oz Rakau Pellet Hops (12.7% AA) (5 min)
Irish Moss (Boil – 15 min.)

Primary (66º F)  

WLP060 American Ale Yeast Blend – Starter Made
2.0 oz Rakau Pellet Hops (12.7 AA) (4/27/11) (Dry hopped for 7 Days)


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