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Wheat Neutral Spirit Recipe

edited January 2019 in Recipes

Hi, I am hoping someone might be able to help with a few pointers here as I have tried a few times to use a recipe I found in the book ‘The Joy of Home Distilling’ but am having a few problems with achieving a decent Specific Gravity reading.

The recipe calls for:

  • 1kg crushed wheat malt (I have been using a traditional Ale Malt)
  • 3.8kg flaked wheat
  • 23L of water

(I’m not going to go into the fermentation side of the recipe as that’s not what I am having an issue with)

Following the guideline I heat the water to 67 degrees centigrade and stir in the flaked wheat until it absorbs water and becomes soft (maybe 30-45 minutes), stirring regularly to avaoid any scorching. Then I add the wheat malt and hold the temperature very precisely at between 65-67 degrees centigrade for 90-120 minutes.

According the the recipe in the book this should result in an SG reading of around 1.065. However, I am struggling to get 1.045 and that’s only when I leave things to cool down over night.

I have tried upping the flaked wheat to 5kg and the malt to 1.4kg but am struggling to get an SG above 1.055 even doing that. I am having to add around 3kg of dextrose in order to get a decent SG reading (1.070-1.075) and achieve a decent amount of alcohol so that I don’t have to keep fermenting heaps of batches.

I was wondering if either the flaked wheat I am using might not be very good (its from Blue Lakes Milling) or maybe I should just get normal wheat and coarsely mill it?

I would be really keen to hear if anyone has any advice on the matter or perhaps a good recipe?

I know a sugar wash is much easier but if there is a hard way of doing something I will find it! Also I much prefer the product that comes from using a grain recipe, I just want to try and up the SG reading as I am positive I am completing the mashing process correctly and whilst its fine adding Dextrose it annoys me that the recipe doesn’t work and adding the dextrose ultimately adds to the cost of things and personally I feel removes some of the romanticism from it (I’m a big sook at heart).

Any help or advice is much appreciated.



  • Mate I've run your recipe through Beersmith using barrel burstone wheat malt (not how white trad ale) and english flaked wheat (cause I done't have the spec for blue lake). Beersmith tells me to expect 1.045 for 23l at an efficiency of 72%. I tried again using JW trad able and got the same OG.

    Upping the trad ale to 2kg and the flaked wheat to 6kg will get you to an OG of 1.075 for 23l. If you don't you need to look at things like your crush, water ph, mash tun setup (does it maintain temp?), false bottom / brain / manifold.

    what sort of performance do you get on a beer mash?

    Forget dextrose - it's too expensive for what you get - use regular white sugar instead (if you do use sugar) as it's around $1/kg and available everywhere.

  • Agree with @crozdog sounds like the recipe in the book is wrong, no way that mash bill is going to get you to 1.065.

    Don't use sugar.

    Instead, use enzymes. Mash at a higher temperature using high temp alpha amylase, also use glucoamylase. You should be able to maximize mash efficiency and not have to worry about all the headaches the brewers need to.

  • SamSam
    edited January 2019

    Thanks guys, I feel better that its not just me and will increasing the ale and flaked wheat to 2kg & 6kg respectively as I do want to try and get to a 100% grain mash without adding sugar.

    I don’t have a false bottom but I haven’t found that there has been an issue with the mash sticking or burning to the bottom. I use an 80L brew kettle (I adjust the recipe to get 50 of low wines out the end to run through the still) and mash paddle. I have found that given the size of the kettle and the amount of grains the temperature is pretty steady and not hard to control, I watch the thermometer really carefully (not the one on the front of the kettle as that’s not very accurate, I use a more accurate probe).

    I have never made a beer mash so cant comment (its on my to do list).

    @grim I am interested in the use of enzymes and glucoamylase, what the benefits of this and do you have any link to some more information on this?

    Thanks again.


    600 x 800 - 59K
  • I would also be interested in what yeasts you guys would recommend for a grain mash, I have been using a Still Spitit Turbo Vodka Yeast but I’m not sure if you might be able to suggest a better one as ultimately I do want to maximise my yield.

  • sam, have a read of John Palmer's excellent "how to brew" you'll pick up a lot i'm sure.

    i asked about a false bottom etc as I thought you were loitering like a beer mash, but it sounds like you are fermenting on the grain.

    If you can increase you efficiency by tweaking your rig and process eg using enzymes like grim suggests to improve your conversion go for it. Eg the 4kg trad all & 6kg flaked wheat will give you an OG of 1.089!

    The protocol to use will vary by manufacturer. If you are in Aus, call Deltazyme and ask them about product and how to use theirs.

  • @crozdog Thanks, I haven’t read that but will give it a read as getting the mashing right is something I am really keen on. I’m still very much in the setting up phase of my set up so am keen to look at options and tweak or acquire the right set up as I go.

  • edited January 2019

    checkout how to brew online.

  • I would never use turbo yeast... you can make 10% or more ABV and still have great flavor easily from DADY or even the $6/lb brick of bakers yeast...

    turbo might be good if you can only ferment, and not distill, such as a legal requirement for a wine-based RTD cocktail... or for fuel... but otherwise, turbo is considered crap in most beverage distiller circles...

  • You are really asking a lot of your malt in a 1-2 mash.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • I was a bit suspicious of the turbo yeasts but my local brew shop pushed it on me...

    Can you suggest any strains of yeast that work well, I have seen quite a few people talk about Champagne yeast and was thinking about giving that a go next time.

    I did also read about having to add yeast nutrients in a few places (or is this just for activating it)?

  • Champagne yeasts are fine, any ale yeast will work well too although they may add some flavour depending on strain.
    You won't need nutrient with all that grain.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Thanks punkin, out of curiosity might there be some yeasts that add desirable flavours or is it better to look for a yeast that adds little to no flavour

  • You looking for flavor or for neutral? The optimal approaches aren’t necessarily the same.

  • Well at this stage my interest lies in Gin and Vodka but I would like at some point to give whiskey a crack.

    At this stage I guess it’s about experimentation and finding the right combo, I guess there could be a happy medium of some sort in there.

    I suppose I’m looking for a mash that yields a decent OG and can be fermented without attracting all the negative flavours.

    Sorry to be so vague I am really new to this so am sort of trying to find my feet so to speak

  • edited January 2019

    For neutral the champagne yeasts would be best. I like pastuer red. Its 006 yeast.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • We do a lot of malt whiskey, fermenting just sparged wort at OG 1.070, and Red Star bread yeast at a rate of 1/4 cup per 22 (US) gallons gives great flavor and 3.0 to 3.5 day ferments, with a typical FG of .994-.995.

    I love the smell of the ferment, and the taste of the distillate (out whiskies have a firm malt flavor). It's cheap, easy to get in bulk, fast, and finishes low. What's not to like?

    I've never used a turbo; I've heard way too many horror stories about flavor, but I guess turbos have improved since the early days.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • edited January 2019

    You guys got me thinking about wheat malt spirits, so today I traded for a 15kg pail of Briess Bavarian Wheat liquid malt extract. 65%/35% unhopped wheat/barley.
    I just bought a 2# bag of Red Star bread yeast, so Zymurgy Bob's your uncle... ;<)

    Gonna make some 4-plate white dog with half of it, and VM the other half for gin base spirit.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • I think wheat is the bees knees when it comes to neutral.

    I've tasted dozens of commercial GNS bases, even not-G GNS. For me, wheat is absolutely the most neutral, and this is true across multiple manufacturers.

  • @Kapea, I reacently made a hefeweizen using a wheat/barley DME, same ratio as yoiur LME. Came out great. Was thinking of trying a whiskey using theDME. Let me know how your comes out.

  • I've attended several gin tastings at ADI conferences. The wheat-based base spirit gins were my favorites. They have a softness that is very pleasant. Rye malt base spirit ones are pretty damn tasty too.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • @Grim. In South Australia our most readily available NS is Grape. How would you compare GNS to Grape NS ?

  • Two 10 gallon batches with the wheat/barley malt extract.
    O.G. 1.063
    Boiled the wort to get a hot break in the kettle instead of in the boiler while distilling.
    Decided to pitch Lalvin EC1118 instead of the bread yeast. 20g rehydrated yeast per batch.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • Thanks for everyone’s input...

    So I managed to get to a better brew shop today (my local one can’t understand why I’m not just doing a sugar wash) who also suggested alpha amylase & glucoamylase, they also recommended M15 yeast. They were saying that using the M15 yeast does increase the cost but it can be reused up to 4 times which then keeps the cost down so I was going to try that instead of a turbo yeast.

    I’m going to do a mash over the long weekend and from what they were saying I just follow the same steps I have been and add the alpha amylase at the same time with the malted grain and the glucoamylase with the yeast.

    Despite what the brew shop guys said about just following the same steps as before am I right in thinking that with the addition of alpha amylase it would be best to mash at 68-75C (rather than 65-67C as I have been) as I’m worrying less about beta amylase and adding the glucoamylase to break down the longer sugar chains?

    I was also going to up the rolled wheat to 6kg and malted grain to 4kg.

    I’m interested to hear anyones thoughts on this before I give it a go, failing that I will let you know how it goes!

  • I only use those enzymes for corn. You can achieve a very good conversion without them on grain.

  • edited January 2019

    @GD50 - Grape is nice, but I think it's got distinctive character, not as distinctive as cane based NS.

  • edited January 2019

    @TheMechWarrior said: You can achieve a very good conversion without them on grain.

    An expert with the right tools can, a beginner usually can't. HTAA and GA - fairly cheap insurance.

  • lots of home brewers make great weizen using just wheat and malt ie no extra enzymes. ratios vary from 1:1 - 2 parts wheat to 1 part malt.

    The higher ratios might need rice hulls to help lauter, but if you're fermenting on the grain, i wouldn't worry.

    Re temp, 63-65 will give you a thinner beer, while higher eg 68 will give you more unfermentable sugars & hence more body. if you do use enzymes, follow the directions as they are all a bit different

  • True @grim, the enzymes are pretty cheap and if they make life easier you may as well use them if you have them.

  • Hi @crozdog thanks for all your advise on this thread, its been a while since I posted or run a mash. The only time I tried since January I managed to get smashed glass into the mash and had to bin it so never got to see how it all turned out. Anyway, I'm planning to have another crack this weekend and am trying to get a couple of things straight in my mind before I do...

    Since I was posting here in January I have made a few adjustments to my set up and added a HERMS coil to help better control my temperatures.

    What I did notice from what I did manage to complete was with 6kg of rolled wheat, 2kg of malted wheat and 25l of water the mash was like porridge with very little 'free' water to circulate and create the wort.

    I have tried having a play with the Beersmith system you mentioned in an earlier post but its a tad to sophisticated to use for a complete novice such as myself... What I was trying to work out was how much water should I add to get 25l of wort out the end and what OG to expect using the 6 & 2 quantities.

    Alternatively I was considering cooking the rolled wheat until it becomes soft and then adding more water to try and get to around 25l of 'free water' to use in the mashing process, then adding the malted grain and starting the mashing process from there.

    I would be grateful for any advice!

  • edited June 2019

    Beersmith can be pretty daunting. Checkout Breersfriend or some of the others like brewtarget.

    I reckon the porridge like gloopiness is due to the ratio of wheat : malt. you're running 3:1 which is pretty high IMO, try increasing the amount of malt eg 3kg malt : 5 kg wheat to give you a 1:1.666 ratio - in the range I mentioned earlier. I'd also stick with barley malt instead of wheat malt as it has a higher diastatic power.

    If you really want to simplify things, start by mashing just 100% barley malt. Do it a few times to get your process nailed before trying to add other grains. FYI, there is a whole world of speciality barley malts you can use to add a variety of character from chocolate to toffee.

    Also consider your mashing process. I't should be pretty simple & not need a herms eg heat your pot to strike temp (use the calculator here to work out what that temp is), add your crushed grains, stirr well; sit for an hour (you should wrap the pot in insulation (eg camp mat or blankets etc) to maintain the temp during the mash). Do an iodine test to see if you've achieved full conversion. If you have full conversion, cool the mash and add yeast when at the right temp - ferment on the grain if you don't have a false bottom - it makes lautering much easier

    Grain absorbs a bit over 1l/kg, so if you want 25l out and you're using 8kg grain, heat up a bit over 33l of water (ie 8+25) to strike temp

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