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American Altbier

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It’s been a good while since I’ve brewed anything malty. Everything I’ve made for the past five months has been pale other than the Black IPA I made. Even though it’s really hard to imagine the cooler temps of fall when it’s July in Arizona, I’m going to brew an Altbier in anticipation of the cooler fall nights. I really didn’t stick to a specific style for this one (Dusseldorf or Northern German), and I’m using decidedly American ingredients for this batch. Which makes this beer sort of an American Altbier.

 

The goal here was something with a really clean fermentation character, and a nice crisp finish. I also wanted a nice big malty profile, but without loads of crystal malt; basically something like an Oktoberfest for fall. Since I have a sack of 2-row and I’m lazy, I won’t be using the traditional German pilsner malt that makes the base of the beer. We will be adding a a heavy dose of Munich malt for that ‘alt’ character though. In terms of hops, most Dusseldorf Altbiers are bittered with Spalt or Magnum hops. I’m only looking for clean bitterness, so I used Warrior. I am going to ferment this on the cool side with Kolsch yeast, and it will have around two months to lager before fall hits.

 

We’re right in the middle of monsoon season here in Phoenix. It’s still 105-110 during the day, and then in the afternoon, massive storms roll in. There’s no ‘dry heat’ this time of year, unfortunately.  Thankfully, I’m brewing indoors with my electric HERMS these days (it’s about 95% complete), so I can stay nice and cool. The only thing I did differently with this batch, was I tried a 10 minute protein rest at 131*, before stepping the mash up to 150* for a 50 minute rest. We’ll see if this has any impact on head retention; my beers typically have good lacing, but it could be better. Otherwise, this was a very straight forward brew day. 60 minute boil, chilled to 63*, and pitched a decanted 2.5QT starter of WLP029. Then I set the fermenter fridge to 62*, and went to bed.

Brewed: 07-15-12
Kegged: 08-04-12
OG:1.050
FG: 1.011
ABV: 5.1%
IBU: 27
6 Gallons


7lbs 2-Row
3lbs Munich
8oz Crystal 60
2.5oz Carafa III Special
Mash @ 131* for 10min then 150* for 50min
0.65oz Warrior @ 60
WLP029 – Kolsch Yeast – 2.5QT starter

 
WLP029 worked much quicker than the WYeast 2565 that I’m used to. It was also substainially less messy than 2565, which was nice, and it fermented out in a just a few days. I brought it up to room temperature after a week, and let it sit in the primary for 2 weeks before kegging it.

 

This beer turned out really nice. It has a big malty aroma and flavor without any big caramel notes. The yeast character is very clean, and the beer finishes rather crisp. Hop aroma is basically null, but there is a nice balancing bitterness that doesn’t linger into the finish. I would definitely cut back on the Carafa just a pinch though. It’s flavor contribution was little-to-none, but this beer was about 2-3SRM darker than i expected. I’d use around 1.5-2 oz of Carafa next time.

 

As far as the protein rest was concerned, I think it did more harm than good. The clarity on this batch is slightly sub-par, and the head retention sucks. Which is funny because improved head retention was what I was after. So lesson learned, no protein rests with highly modified malts.

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