Black Witbier: A Homebrew Recipe

I've been homebrewing for about 16 years now and after tasting nearly everything on the shelf, I enjoy pushing the boundaries.  I don't see the joy in duplicating Guinness when you can buy it for a heck of a lot less work and likely cheaper than to make your own.  If the Reinheitsgebot was the Wicked Witch of the West, I'm a bucket of water.

A Witbier is a Belgian style that uses spices besides hops to flavor.  Coriander and bitter orange peel are standard but black pepper, grains of paradise, chamomile, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger are sometimes (albeit rarely) added by brewers to add a little more depth.

Today we take a more-or-less common Witbier and add chocolate malt to it.  This gives it a dark color but also a smokiness and a little toasted earthiness.  I added a little more spices than usual to compensate for the added flavor of the dark malt.

Besides the normal bitter orange and coriander, I also added ginger.  I first tasted a Wit with ginger from Shmaltz Brewing Company's "Coney Island Albino Python."  It has a distinctive ginger bite, and although I wasn't going for that so much, it is an excellent beer.

Disclaimer:  I've been brewing for so long, I haven't read a recipe in a while.  If I make some what you may consider "errors," please leave them in the comments.  I have made, quite possibly, a ton of beer and this technique works. 

Black Witbier

  • 3 gallons of water
  • 5 pounds dried pale malt extract
  • 1 pound crushed chocolate malt
  • 1 packet of dry Belgian yeast
  • 2 ounces of Cascade hop pellets
  • 3 tablespoons bitter orange
  • 3 tablespoons Grains of Paradise
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered ginger
  • 5 pound bag of ice


Put all the chocolate malt into a brew bag.  Add it to your largest brew pot and fill with water, leaving 6 inches from the rim, bring the water to 140 and keep it there for 40 minutes, stirring continuously.  

Once that step is done, hold the bag over the pot and rinse the grains with fresh water to extract the most from them.  This is called the wort (pronounced wert).  Take 2 tablespoons of the wort and pout them into a bowl, when it has cooled completely, sprinkle your yeast on top (called pitching the yeast).

Add the 5 pounds of malt extract and 1 ounce of the hops and bring to a boil.  Keep it there for 45minutes.  Add 1/2 ounce of the hops, boil for another 15 minutes.  Kill the heat and add the remaining 1/2 ounc of the hops along with the spices.

Add the bag of ice to your clean and sanitized primary fermenter and dump the wort into it.  Once it has cooled to 80 degrees add the yeast/wort slurry.  Cap and wait 10 days.

Once primary fermentation is done, rack into a second bottling bucket and bottle.  Give the bottles another 2 weeks to carbonate at room temperature.  Once they are ready, chill and drink!

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes