Thursday, January 26, 2012

Frühlingstraum (2012 Altbier)

Making up for missed brewing time this past fall, this is my 2nd brew of the month. I'm hoping to get one more in, but it will close. This is my 3rd attempt at brewing a Düsseldorf Altbier, a style I was turned onto by a friend whose wife hails from Düsseldorf. Since there aren't many altbiers imported to the US and since, according to my friend and his wife, there aren't really any good American-made versions of the style, I've taken it upon myself to see if I can make something that will satisfy them. The first version, while a fine beer, turned out too dark with a touch of roast character that was out of style. I used less dark malt (chocolate wheat) in last year's version, which turned out lighter, with less roast, and again was a fine beer. But I used a lot of low-alpha Tettnang for bittering and perhaps too much Hallertauer in the middle of the boil. The result was that I felt like it had too much hop flavor, detracting from the style once gain (not to mention that I strayed from using the traditional altbier hop, Spaltz).

So, I tweaked the recipe once again this time around. I cut back the chocolate wheat even more, used some high-alpha Magnum for bittering, and returned to using Spaltz hop for flavor. I also did a single decoction mash for the first time - essentially followin Kai Troester's process for his altbier, mashing in at 150°F and pulling a thin decoction after 45 minutes. I boiled the decoction for about 10 minutes before adding it back to the MLT to hit mash-out @ 168°F.

Everything else proceeded as normal for my brew process. My only concern is that I ended up having to add some baking soda to the mash to offset the amount of acid malt I thought I was going to need for this beer. Hopefully this won't negatively impact the flavor.

I started fermenting this at an ambient temp of 50°F. I was a bit nervous of going this low, but was also pretty sure that the yeast could handle it. Fermentation started no problem, though was never really vigorous. After a couple of days, a cold front swept in and I was nervous that it would drop the ambient temp too low, so I moved the carboy to the part of the cellar where the furnace is located. The ambient here (as far from the furnace as possible) was a steady 58°F. Once fermentation is complete, I'll rack it to another carboy and "lager" it for a few weeks before bottling (I'll stash it in my garage, which is normally in the 30s this time of year, but with the very warm winter we're having, it's currently only in the mid-40s). Should be ready to drink by mid-March (hence the beer's name),

Frühlingstraum Altbier
Brewed on 1/18/12

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 3.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 3.50 gal
Estimated Color: 10.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 40.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.0 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes
OG: 1.047
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.6%

2 lbs Munich Malt - 32.3 %
2 lbs Pale Malt (Weyermann) - 32.3 %
2 lbs Pilsner - 32.3 %
2.0 oz Acid Malt - 2.1 % (for mash pH)
1.0 oz Chocolate Wheat (Weyermann)- 1.0 %

6 g Magnum [13.10 %] - 60.0 min
14 g Spalter [5.00 %] - 60.0 min
10 g Spalter [5.00 %] - 15.0 min

Dusseldorf Alt Yeast (White Labs #WLP036)

Mash Schedule
Single Decoction Mash, Batch sparge
  • Saccharification 150.0 F (45 min)
  • 1st Decoction 165.0 F (10 min)

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