Friday, March 18, 2011

Brew Day, Batch 337: Altbier

If you like beer, really like beer, an alt is hard to resist. Bittersweet, candy-like malt and hop blast, with a clean, dry finish, in a normal-gravity beer. A bit of lingering bitterness makes the next quaff mandatory. Yeah. The best example to be found hereabouts is the Zum Uerige altbier, which is also available in sticke- (special, literally "secret",) and doppel- (developed for the EXTREME DUDE!! US market,) variations.

When I make altbier, I use a step mash calculated to make a highly fermentable wort. Since that means a decoction mash in my brewery, there is the added benefit of a heightened malt character. It all works out quite nicely. Here is a shot of the essential setup:

In the foreground is my mashtun, an orange 10 gallon Coleman drinks cooler fitted with a slotted drain manifold. To the right is the decoction kettle, with my mash paddle resting across its lid. When heating the decoction, one must stir it constantly to keep the very thick mash from scorching, for which effort one is rewarded with a continual face full of steam. Thus, one other essential item: a refreshing beer of low gravity, which today is a 3.5% Irish stout. Also, since it takes a long time to bring a potful of thick mash to a boil, it helps to have something to read, hence the laptop sitting on the mashtun....


  1. It occurs to me today, for the first time, that stirring the pot during the decoction, in the winter months anyway, might be a good remedy for my poor, suffering "winter dried-out skin and lips and bleeding nose " blues...