Sunday, February 20, 2011

Opening Day Altbier

Even though we've had one of the snowiest, coldest winters in recent years, Spring is not that far away and the Sox will once again be regular fixtures on the living room tv. But before Jon Lester or Josh Beckett throws their first real pitch, I need to take advantage of the winter temperatures to brew my annual "lager".

With no real temperature control, I rely on the various temperatures in my house and garage for different fermentation and conditioning regimes. Since my cellar sits in the low high 50s/low 60s, and my "mudroom" sits in the low-mid 50s, and my garage is in the high 30s/low 40s right now, I like to take a short hiatus from my usual ale brewing and try something that can take advantage of these colder temps.

This is my second attempt at brewing an altbier. Though technically not a lager, it benefits from a cooler fermentation and some cold storage - think of it as a transitional style between ales and lagers. Once again, I am trying to emulate the traditional altbiers of Dusseldorf in honor of a friend and colleague whose wife hails from Dusseldorf and both of whom rave about the beers available there. Last year, my friend's wife said my attempt "was good", which I take as a high compliment given I have never been to Dusseldorf and have only sampled a couple Dusseldorf alts (thanks to my friend's generosity in sharing his private altbier stash he collects during his regular visits to his wife's family). I even took 3rd place in a local competition with it (the South Shore Brew Off). My version was a little too dark and roasty however and I am hoping to adjust for that this year by adding the dark malt only during the sparge. My LHBS also had White Lab's Dusseldorf Altbier yeast in stock this year, which I hope will put this beer over the top.

I think traditionally this beer was brewed using a decoction mash. I'm not confident yet to give that a whirl (maybe next year), so instead I augmented the grist with some Munich and Melanoiden malts. I fermented this in the cellar for 7 days - ambient temp was 59°F - before moving it up to the first floor for a diacetyl rest for 3 days (ambient temp = 67°F). I then racked to a secondary glass carboy and moved it to the mudroom for 4 days (ambient temp = 50°F) and then to the garage (ambient temp = 38-42°F), where it will sit for a few weeks before bottling.

Opening Day Alt
Brewed on 1/30/11

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 3.50 gal
Boil Size: 5.00 gal
Estimated Color: 12.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 38.8 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes
OG: 1.049 SG

5 lbs Pilsner (Weyermann) - 81.57 %
8.0 oz Melanoidin (Weyermann) - 8.16 %
8.0 oz Munich I (Weyermann) - 8.16 %
2.0 oz Chocolate Wheat (Weyermann) - 2.12 % (added to mash during sparging)

50.00 grams Tettnang [3.50 %] (60 min)
14.00 grams Hallertauer [3.00 %] (30 min)

Dusseldorf Alt Yeast (White Labs #WLP036)

Mash Schedule
Single Infusion, 150°F, Batch Sparge

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