Jack Smith’s article and recipe for Elvis Has Just Left The Building: Peanut Butter Hefeweizen originally appeared in Craft Pittsburgh magazine (Issue 17, Winter 2015). Thanks to Jack Smith and Craft Pittsburgh for allowing us to reprint in and share with fans of Chop & Brew. As seen discussed in this Chop & Brew Lagniappe tasting notes and brew discussion video.
Hey, You Got Peanut Butter in My Hefeweizen!
by Jack Smith
So there I was loafing on the couch watching re-runs of CHiPs when an ad for a set of Elvis Presley commemorative porcelain plates came on. After committing to make four easy installments I realized I really had a hankerin’ for The King’s namesake sandwich – The Elvis: peanut butter, banana, and honey on white bread. Alas, I was fresh out of bread. So I did what any of you would have done: I brewed a hefeweizen with peanut butter in it.
Think about it: what flavors make up German Hefewiezen? Primarily yeast-derived banana esters and clove phenols layered atop a Wonder Bread-like wheat malt backbone. Take away the clove and you’re left with a couple of the key components of the man in white’s favorite sandwich. All we need is peanut butter & honey. Enter: PB2 powdered peanut butter and Gambrinus Honey Malt. Done. Now how do we put it all together? This unique, oddly drinkable beer is – like most well-designed beers – pretty simple. It starts as a straightforward German Weissbier recipe and has just a few tweaks: (1) Add some honey malt to the otherwise simple grist bill, (2) Choose a mash schedule that reduces clove phenols, (3) add PB2 to the fermentor, and (4) choose a fermentation regiment that produces more banana ester.
The best Weissbiers are ones with a delicate balance of banana and clove, neither trait overpowering the other. Elvis, on the other hand, is neither delicate nor balanced. We want to silence clove and crank the banana up to 11. Clove and banana are produced by German wheat beer yeast strains under specific conditions. To boost clove one needs to perform a complex step mash. Which means to eliminate it we just need to simplify: a simple single-infusion mash (or extract brew) works great. Boosting banana, meanwhile, is achieved through manipulating the fermentation – allowing for more cell growth than desired in “clean” beer such as lager or American pale ale. (Esters are formed in abundance during the growth phase of fermentation.) Pay close attention to yeast pitching rate, oxygenation levels, and fermentation temperature and your results will be rewarding. As for the peanut butter, one pound of PB2 for a five gallon batch is perfect. See the recipe below for details of when and how to add it.
I dreamed this beer up as a goof, but it turned out to be surprisingly good. It is now a medal winner and, more importantly, was a huge hit with the crowd at Brewing Up a Cure. Most tried it out of curiosity. Many came back for seconds. Or thirds. So go ahead, brew this. You’ll be rewarded. A little less conversation, a little more fermentation please.
Batch Size: 5.25 gal.
Boil Time: 75 min.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
*Assuming 70% brew house efficiency
6 lbs. German Wheat Malt
2 lbs. German Pilsner Malt
1 lb. Gambrinus Honey Malt
1 lb. Munich Malt
*Extract Brewers: Replace the Wheat Malt with 3.5 lbs wheat DME. Replace the Pilsner malt with 18 ounces of Pilsner DME. Replace the Munich malt with 9 ounces of Munich DME. Crush and steep the honey malt at roughly 150F for 30 minutes. Remove steeping grains, and add DME while heating to a boil. Boil for 75 minutes.
20 grams Hallertauer (4.1% AA) @ 75 minutes
Single Infusion @ 154 degrees for 60 min.
1 lb. PB2 powdered peanut butter – Add it to your fermenter just as the boil is finishing up.
When there’s 5 minutes left in the boil, put the PB2 in a large stainless or Pyrex mixing bowl and ladle 2-3 quarts of the boiling wort into the bowl. Whisk until smooth and pour into a sanitized fermentor. Cap the fermentor with a sanitized cap and set aside. After the boil finishes, chill the wort to 64F and rack into the fermentor with the PB2 mixture. Stir or swirl to mix the PB into the wort.
Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen or White Labs WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast. The key is in the pitching rate. A 5.25 gallon batch of cleanly fermented 1.048 ale needs about 175 Billion cells. For hefeweizen, aim to pitch 20% less – about 140 Billion cells – to boost banana production.
Aeration/Oxygenation: Aerate or oxygenate well using your favorite method – plenty of oxygen helps promote yeast growth.
Primary Fermentation: 10-14 days; pitch at 62-64 degrees F and hold there until fermentation is complete.
Conditioning: This style requires high carbonation as it should be effervescent and spritzy. If kegging, carbonate to 3.5 volumes. If bottle conditioning, prime with 6.5 ounces of table sugar. Drink fresh; age is not this beer’s friend.
This beer works great as a standalone half-liter, maybe a bag of hard pretzels by your side on the Barcalounger. That’s how I imagine Elvis would drink it. Or maybe he’d pour it over a couple scoops of vanilla bean ice cream. The best pairing I found for it, though, is with the spicy, sweet, peanut-laden world of Thai food. Pad thai and massaman curry are perfect partners for this unique beer.