Are you ready to brew a Hefeweizen but don’t know what yeast strain to use? Are you unsure of whether to use liquid or dry yeast?
The best yeast for brewing Hefeweizen beer should have banana and clove esters and phenols, a seven-day fermentation period, a medium-high attenuation, low flocculation, and about 73℉ fermentation temperature. The best yeast choices include Wyeast Weihenstephan Weizen (liquid), White Labs Hefeweizen Ale (liquid), and SafAle WB-06 (dry).
Keep reading for everything you need to know to choose the right yeast for Hefeweizens, how to culture your own yeast and harvest strains from commercial beers, as well as the particularly best strains for both liquid and dry yeasts and the difference between them.
How to choose the right yeast for Hefeweizens
To choose the right yeast for Hefeweizen beers, we want to consider the primary characteristics that make up a good Hefeweizen yeast strain.
The best yeasts for Hefeweizen beers will include banana and clove esters and phenols, top-cropping krausen, a one-week fermentation time, 70-80% attenuation, low flocculation, and a 65-78℉ temperature range.
These factors are important when considering the best yeast strain for this style. Each one will affect the beer differently and provide slight variations depending on the strain’s qualities.
Esters from Hefeweizen yeasts are paramount in this beer style. Their tastes and aromas are strong and prominent.
Hefeweizen beers are known for having strong ester profiles. For Hefeweizen yeast, the ideal ester profile emanates notes of banana and clove in both taste and aroma at low to medium-high levels.
Hefeweizen krausen can be a tricky game depending on the yeast used.
Be patient with your yeast krausen for Hefeweizens. Some don’t last long, and some can last for weeks at a time.
It mostly depends on the strain, but patiently let it do its thing during fermentation.
The fermentation time for Hefeweizens can vary, depending on a couple of things.
Your Hefeweizen fermentation time will be contingent on the amount of yeast you use and the temperature that you ferment at. The process typically takes about one week but can take up to three weeks.
Find that sweet spot for Hefeweizen yeast attenuation. You don’t want your beer to be too dry or too sweet.
Yeast attenuation for Hefeweizen should be 70-80%; the ideal attenuation is close to 75%.
Another very important aspect of Hefeweizen yeast is flocculation. This yeast characteristic is vital to the Hefeweizen style.
Choose a yeast with low flocculation. The yeast particles will flow throughout the beer, instead of clumping together, promoting the hazy, fuller appearance and mouthful that many beer drinkers know and love the style for.
By the way, this article is part of a whole series on Hefeweizens. If you want to learn more I have articles on the best water profile for Hefeweizens, how to brew a Hefeweizen, and the best Hefeweizens to try in 2022!
Harvesting commercial yeast from craft Hefeweizen beers
Harvesting yeast is the process of taking yeast from a beer and culturing it in a sustainable environment with the goal of creating a larger sum of a particular desired yeast strain.
Harvesting yeast from beers is simple and easy to do. There are some verified commercial beers that people like to harvest yeast from, either to save money, replicate a beer or style, or to experiment and have fun.
To harvest yeast, save some leftover beer from the bottom of a bottle or keg of beer and add distilled water. Let the yeast and the water separate over 30 minutes and pour the contents into a sanitized container. Place your yeast remnants into the fridge for a couple of days and let the yeast thrive, creating an active culture from a commercial beer.
A safe, confirmed commercial beer option for harvesting yeast is Widmer Brothers’ Hefeweizen.
The best liquid yeast strains for brewing a Hefeweizen beer
Liquid yeast works well in homebrewing for various reasons and is often favored over dry yeast strains.
Liquid yeasts are more prevalent compared to dry yeast. They’re always fresh but spoil more quickly than dry yeasts. Because of packaging and transportation costs, liquid yeast is generally more expensive than dry yeast. Some of the best liquid yeast strains for Hefeweizen beer are WY3068, WLP300, IYG01, and OYL-021.
|Imperial Organic Steton German Ale||63-73℉||73-77%||Low|
|Omega Bananza Ale||64-75℉||73-77%||Low|
|Omega Hefeweizen Ale I||64-75℉||73-77%||Low|
|Omega Hefeweizen Ale II||63-75℉||70-76%||Very high|
|White Labs American Hefeweizen Ale||65-69℉||70-75%||Low|
|White Labs Hefeweizen Ale||68-72℉||72-76%||Low|
|White Labs Hefeweizen IV Ale||66-70℉||73-80%||Low|
|Wyeast Bavarian Wheat||70-76℉||64-75%||Low|
|Wyeast PC German Wheat||63-75℉||70-76%||High|
|Wyeast Weihenstephan Weizen||64-75℉||73-77%||Low|
Keep reading for more information about each of these liquid yeasts.
Wyeast has a prime selection of liquid yeasts for your next hefeweizen homebrew, including:
WY3068 Weihenstephan Weizen
A top-cropping yeast strain with traditional Hefeweizen banana and clove esters and phenols, this yeast can be manipulated to produce more or less of the banana and clove characteristics by changing temperature and amount pitched.
It has low flocculation with 73-77% attenuation. It has a temperature range of 64-75℉ with a 10% ABV.
WY3333 – PC German Wheat
Similar to the Weihenstephan Weizen, this beer attains a harmonious banana and clove relationship. It can also be manipulated through pitch rate and temperature. It sediments rapidly, resulting in a brighter beer.
This strain has very high flocculation with an attenuation of 70-76%. Its temperature range is 63-75℉ and has an ABV of 10%.
WY3638 Bavarian Wheat
This strain is less traditional in that it produces more fruity esters – pear, plum, and apples. However, it still retains a banana flavor that dominates the pallet. There’s a subtle vanilla taste to this strain, as well.
WY3638 has low flocculation with a temperature range of 70-76℉ and 64-75% attenuation. It has an ABV of 10%.
White Labs has a few different yeast strains for Hefeweizen beers including:
WLP300 Hefeweizen Ale
This is a traditional Hefeweizen yeast strain that, like most hefeweizen strains, produces banana esters. It produces clove esters and phenols as well but the banana notes dominate the playing field.
It has low flocculation with 72-76% attenuation and a temperature range of 68-72℉. It has a 5-10% alcohol tolerance.
WLP380 Hefeweizen IV Ale
This yeast strain hits the mark of a traditional Hefeweizen strain. Clove esters are less prominent and are instead replaced more or less by notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and bubble gum. It still has a banana prominence.
WLP380 has low flocculation with a temperature range of 66-70℉ and an attenuation of 73-80%. It has an alcohol tolerance of 5-10%.
WLP320 American Hefeweizen Ale
The American Hefeweizen Ale strain ferments more cleanly than the previous two strains from White Labs. It still maintains a banana and clove flavor and has low flocculation that is still characteristic of the style.
Its temperature range is 65-69℉ with 70-75% attenuation. This strain has an alcohol tolerance of 5-10%.
The prime Hefeweizen liquid yeast strain at Imperial Yeast is G01 Stefon German Ale.
IYG01 Stefon German Ale
Imperial Yeast’s Hefeweizen yeast strain is perfect for the style. It’s a well-balanced strain that features prominent banana esters and phenols, as well as some mild clove notes. Like other Hefeweizen yeast strains, slight underpitching will result in an even more prominent banana profile.
This strain has low flocculation and a temperature range of 63-73℉. The attenuation is in the 73-77% range, and it has an ABV of 10%.
Omega Yeast has three Hefeweizen yeasts:
OYL-021 Hefeweizen Ale I
This top-cropping strain boasts the classic banana and clove notes desired in a hefeweizen yeast strain. Under pitching heightens the banana flavors, and sulfur is present but conditions out.
It has low flocculation and a temperature range of 64-75℉. It has a 73-77% attenuation and a 10% ABV.
OYL-022 Hefeweizen Ale II
Very similar to OYL-021, but it is highly flocculent. Another top-cropper, this yeast strain leaves your finished beer crystal clear. Increase its banana-forward esters by under pitching for a taste and aroma true to the Hefeweizen style.
Unlike its sibling strain, this particular yeast has very high flocculation with a near-identical temperature range of 63-75℉. It has a 70-76% attenuation range and a 10% ABV.
OYL-400 Bananza Ale
This trademark strain from Omega Yeast is all about banana esters. It is non-phenolic and, as a result, is incapable of producing flavors that would otherwise get in the way of the banana profile. Omega recommends a 68℉ pitch for the best banana flavor.
OYL-400 has low flocculation and a 64-75℉ temperature range. It has attenuation in the 73-77% range. It has a 10% alcohol tolerance.
The best dry yeast strains for brewing a Hefeweizen beer
Dry yeast strains for Hefeweizen beers are hard to come by.
Dry yeast strains are extremely limited – even more so for Hefeweizens. The two best dry yeast strains for brewing a Hefeweizen beer are Fermentis’ SafAle WB-06 and Lallemand’s LalBrew Munich Classic. These dry yeast strains are true to the style and result in an excellent Hefeweizen beer.
|Lallemand LalBrew Munich Classic||63-72℉||Medium to high||Low|
Although limited by sheer lack of variety, these dry yeast strains work well, are relatively inexpensive, and last much longer than liquid yeast strains.
SafAle has one particular strain offered for Hefeweizen-style beers. Fermentis’ SafAle WB-06 is their go-to strain for wheat-based beers.
This yeast strain offers traditional Hefeweizen yeast strain characteristics with a banana and clove profile. It exhibits a lingering effect to provide a full appearance and mouthfeel, characteristic of the style.
SafAle WB-06 has low flocculation and a temperature range of 65-79℉ and an apparent attenuation of 86-90%. It has an alcohol tolerance of 9-11%.
Lallemand Brewing’s LalBrew Munich Classic is an exceptional yeast strain for the Hefeweizen style. It holds true to traditional wheat beer yeast strain characteristics.
LalBrew Munich Classic
LalBrew Munich Classic is a good strain for Hefeweizens. It boasts banana and clove phenols where banana esters are dominant. It hangs around in the beer for that desired haziness of the style. It works well under various fermentation conditions.
The temperature range for this strain is 63-72℉. It has medium to high attenuation and low flocculation.