Sunday, February 10, 2013

Brew Day, Batch 384: Altbier

Mmm, yes, altbier. That dry, bitter, but aromatic and flavorful ale from Dusseldorf. Or in  this instance, Michigan. This is a beer not widely available in the States, and it is rare to find it really fresh. Thus, we homebrew... Alt should be a coppery to light brown color, with a German malt nose and perhaps just a whiff of noble hop (Spalt, traditionally.) It meets your palate with melanoidin-rich German malt flavor and rather high bitterness, and then... poof- gone. It finishes dry and clean; even the hop bitterness hardly lingers. Mrs. C. and I have been lucky enough to get some fresh samples of the real McCoy, most recently thanks to our friends Jeff and Susan.

This is a beer I've fiddled with intermittently over the years, but never really gone at 'hammer and tongs' like some other beers. This time around, I've changed my grist up a bit, though it is still a blend of Pils (50%ish) and light and dark Munich malts, with a wee bit of roast malt (Carafa I) thrown in for tint. The mash was a two decoction affair designed to attain a very fermentable wort, mashing in at around 120F, sacch rest at 146F, and a mashout at 165F. Target OG was 1.045.

I decided that perhaps 'first wort hopping' might be appropriate for this beer. This is an old practice (and "alt" means "old" in German,) where a portion of the hops are added to the kettle as soon as it begins to fill with wort. I've always eschewed the technique, because it conflicts with my tightly reasoned thesis (read: half-ass speculation) about cleaning up my imprecise mashing habits. But many German brewers feel it lends a finer hop character to the beer, and this seems like a good vehicle to try it out, especially since there are no late hop additions to interfere with any subtle effect. My choice of hop to try this out was the aforementioned Spalt, which is only available to me in pellet form. I would love to use all Spalt hops in this beer, but my low-tech home brewery becomes badly constipated when I try to use pelletized hops. Thus, I must include a majority of whole hops in the kettle- in this case domestic Saaz hops at  a 3:2 ratio to the Spalt, for an estimated 45 BU.

Fermentation will hopefully proceed in the low-mid 60s, carried out by a generous slurry of the esteemed Wyeast 1007, which I have on good authority is sourced from Zum Uerige in Dusseldorf.

Owing to the fact that I've changed the recipe again, and am possessed of a somewhat childish sense of humor, we will henceforth be calling this beer, "Neue Alt."

No comments:

Post a Comment