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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: tomsawyer on January 01, 2011, 06:56:12 am

Title: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 01, 2011, 06:56:12 am
I've now read his altbier style book written in '98 and noticed he espouses some dogma that is now being questioned (eg, hot side aeration.)  I have a couple of questions regarding his advice, that I was hoping to solicit opinions on.

First, he spends a good deal of time emphasizing the need for a protein rest, and lays out some good reasoning.  I have been under the impression that today's malts, even the German malts, are well-modified and as such no longer need to have this protein rest and that it can even be detrimental.  Is this the case, or should I be doing a protein rest for this style?  Not sure how much German malting methods have changed in the last twelve years.

Second, he mentions the need to lager on yeast.  I have been reading that people typically keg and force-carb prior to lagering, which would seem to be at odds with his advice (although he does call for racking a time or two during lagering).  I am doing a diacetyl rest on my alt right now (low 60's after 10 days at 56F), should I lager the primary or rack to keg and lager in that?  His reasoning seems less intuitively appealing on this, since the idea of yeast doing much metabolism at 40F and lower seems unlikely and reduction of gasses like H2S would occur slower since the solubility of gas is greater at lower temps.

I'm not badmouthing this book, in fact for a style book it has a lot of excellent information on general brewing (mash pH, calculating SRM/IBU) as well as great info on alts.  Just looking to do the right things to get a nice altbier.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 01, 2011, 10:29:43 am
Personally, based on my own experience with that book and brewing MANY altbiers, I think you can safely ignore much of what he wrote.  First, malts have changed a lot in the years since the book was written.  I find that a long (90-120) minute rest at 148F gives me a very clear and fermentable wort. Second, I've never found it necessary to do a d rest for an alt (YMMV, of course) and I have found no benefits to conditioning on the yeast.  I feel like the book, like others in that series, are written from the standpoint of a commercial brewer rather than a homebrewer.  I advise you to follow your instincts and experience.  Use the book as a tool to understanding rather than a bible to follow step by step.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 01, 2011, 08:49:15 pm
Thanks Denny, I kind of thought the advice was a little dogmatic in several respects.  I generally like the idea of a d-rest, not only for attenuating diacetyl but just to be sure things finish as completely as possible.  Conditioning on a yeast cake doesn't make much sense, and he does say you should rack a time or two which doesn't jibe with the rest of the advice.  I'm torn on the protein rest, but I don't typically have problems with a good rocky head when using the right yeast.  I did appreciate his description of the subtle differences between British and German malt, I usually try to get the authentic ingredients but didn't know exactly what parameters might be affecting the outcome.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 02, 2011, 04:33:05 pm
D-rest is fine. I usually ramp up my temp at the end of fermentation.
Cold conditioning is always good from 2 weeks to 4 weeks.
I did recently do short protein rest based on this article:
http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/publications/the-new-brewer/online-extras/show?title=style-spotlight-bohemian-dunkel

I have to say that I got a HUGE egg drop soup wort with a lot of protein coagulation.
Actually I did 100F for 10 min then infuse with 175F water to 124F for 15 min.
Other rests were at 143 F and 161F and Mash Out at 172F with HERMS.

I have to say it was interesting mash schedule.
My HLT was at 175F all the time and system was VERY responsive.
So I have to say I am pumped about this mash process.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 02, 2011, 07:08:25 pm
Interesting article, although they are using an under-modified malt so the protein rest is certainly more likely to be necessary for that reason.  I'm not sure that Global pils and munich malts are going to need this same protein rest to provide adequate medium-chain polypeptides for body and head retention.  In fact I've read that a protein rest on a well-modified malt can actually break down proteins too much, resulting in the opposite effect.  I generally get a really nice egg-drop soup effect using pils malt and proper salts in my water.  But I'm certainly open to suggestions.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: jasoncap on January 03, 2011, 08:27:32 am
I don't have near the experience brewing Alts that Denny does, but since it is my favorite style I probably put more thought and care into brewing those batches and I agree with his comments.  I don't know that there is much need for a diacetyl rest, especially if you use WY1007 and pitch and ferment on the cooler side.  Even at 56 deg f that yeast attenuates very well and finishes clean.  I'm sure raising the temp can't hurt, though. 

I did enjoy his book, mainly for the historical information on Altbiers and good discussion on the style vs. the technical brewing info.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: chumley on January 03, 2011, 01:47:33 pm
His recipes always kind of freak me out as he will specify using huge amounts of crystal or aromatic malts...I like to use those malts in moderation and have a hard time believing a recipe with 20% crystal malt will taste good (at least for my tastebuds).
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 03, 2011, 05:01:37 pm
I don't have near the experience brewing Alts that Denny does, but since it is my favorite style I probably put more thought and care into brewing those batches and I agree with his comments.  I don't know that there is much need for a diacetyl rest, especially if you use WY1007 and pitch and ferment on the cooler side.  Even at 56 deg f that yeast attenuates very well and finishes clean.  I'm sure raising the temp can't hurt, though. 

I did enjoy his book, mainly for the historical information on Altbiers and good discussion on the style vs. the technical brewing info.

How long does 1007 typically take at 56F?

His recipes always kind of freak me out as he will specify using huge amounts of crystal or aromatic malts...I like to use those malts in moderation and have a hard time believing a recipe with 20% crystal malt will taste good (at least for my tastebuds).

I see his Altstadt recipe is only 5% crystal, that seems reasonable.  Supposedly alts from other areas are sweeter, although 20% crystal is a lot and I wouldn't be wanting that kind of beer.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: chumley on January 03, 2011, 05:26:37 pm
You should read some of his recipes in BYO, when Horst was the Style Editor.  Pretty scary.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 03, 2011, 10:06:54 pm
yeah. 20% crystal is quite excessive to my opinion.
I did try it once.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: jasoncap on January 04, 2011, 05:19:49 am

How long does 1007 typically take at 56F?


I usually leave my Alt in primary for 3 weeks but the bulk of fermentation is probably done in 10-12 days at that temp.  I like to give it a little bit of time after the Krausen falls back in before I move it to a keg and start lagering.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 04, 2011, 06:13:07 am

How long does 1007 typically take at 56F?


I usually leave my Alt in primary for 3 weeks but the bulk of fermentation is probably done in 10-12 days at that temp.  I like to give it a little bit of time after the Krausen falls back in before I move it to a keg and start lagering.

Thanks thats a good benchmark.  I pulled mine out of the 56F chamber after 11days, of course the d-rest temp is only 62-64F.  I'll give it three weeks total before lagering.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: jeffy on January 04, 2011, 07:27:36 am
His recipes always kind of freak me out as he will specify using huge amounts of crystal or aromatic malts...I like to use those malts in moderation and have a hard time believing a recipe with 20% crystal malt will taste good (at least for my tastebuds).

I've often wondered what qualified him to become an expert and finally decided that it's because he's German. ;)
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Kaiser on January 04, 2011, 07:38:55 am
I've often wondered what qualified him to become an expert and finally decided that it's because he's German. ;)

Yes, I noticed that many of his recipes and techniques have caused controversy in the home brewing community. 20% crystal, especially when it is dark, does seem to be a bit much.

I haven't figured out yet what exactly his background in brewing is. But I met him once at a beer festival in Boston.

Kai
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: mabrungard on January 04, 2011, 08:11:55 am
As Stan Hieronymus (Brewing with Wheat, Brew like a Monk) put it...he is not an expert, but he took the time to find out from experts in authoring his books.

So, I wouldn't be surprised that Dornbusch doesn't really have any expertise either, but I would hope that he took the initiative to consult experts in writing his book. 

My hat's off to those who do take the time and effort to author good work.  But as we know, the state of the art moves on.  The problem is that there aren't many forums such as this to help dispell the missinformation that still exists until an updated edition comes out. 
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Kaiser on January 04, 2011, 08:47:36 am
As Stan Hieronymus (Brewing with Wheat, Brew like a Monk) put it...he is not an expert, but he took the time to find out from experts in authoring his books.

Just as we home brewers cannot agree on what is actually necessary to make the best beer, professionals cannot agree either. And unless you know that there is controversy about  the need for a protein rest you may easily take a few brewer’s, who believe it is necessary, word for it.

I don’t think his advice is faulty and make bad beer. I just think it makes you do more work than what is necessary. Finding that out is part of the continues learning in this hobby. This is why you should read multiple books and try to come to your own conclusion.

The 20% crystal is a different issue. It may have worked for one or two recipes but one should always be skeptical about that much crystal in a recipe. Just like Alton Brown who, IMO, puts way to much salt into his recipes. I have tried many of his recipes but end up noting that next time I’ll have to cut the amount of salt.

Kai


Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 04, 2011, 09:10:23 am
How long does 1007 typically take at 56F?

Maybe a couple weeks...
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 04, 2011, 09:13:54 am
As Stan Hieronymus (Brewing with Wheat, Brew like a Monk) put it...he is not an expert, but he took the time to find out from experts in authoring his books.

So, I wouldn't be surprised that Dornbusch doesn't really have any expertise either, but I would hope that he took the initiative to consult experts in writing his book.  

My hat's off to those who do take the time and effort to author good work.  But as we know, the state of the art moves on.  The problem is that there aren't many forums such as this to help dispell the missinformation that still exists until an updated edition comes out.  

My understanding is that he was a commercial brewer.  Years ago (maybe 10) a friend of mine emailed him about the seeming strangeness of his recipes.  Dornbusch wrote back a very good defense of his reasoning.  Didn't convince me, but it was at least some interesting info.  I'm trying to find that email.

EDIT:  Found it!  From 2004...

"Thank you for your two inquiries about Alt and Sticke.

 

Let me first respond to the Sticke question about replacing carared with melanoidin malt.

 

Carared is one of the typical malts used in Germany to impart ¡°reddishness¡± to Alts, Vienna lagers, and similar brews. Carared is slightly aromatic and contributes a relatively mild maltiness as well as some body to the finished beer. I recall having been told by a maltster that a grain bill should contain no more than 25% carared or 20% melanoidin malt, but I do not know why this limitation.

 

Replacing the carared with melanoidin malt is perfectly OK, but I would use a little less melanoidin than carared, if you are looking for a comparable result. This reason lies in the different specs:

 

Melanoidin malts tend to be slightly darker (the Weyermann product, for instance, comes in a color range of 23 ¨C 31¡ãL/SRM, compared to the Weyermann Carared at 16 ¨C 23¡ãL/SRM). Melanoidin malts tend to be slightly more acidic than carared malts. This enhances flavor stability, but you should check you mash pH. (Perhaps this is the reason for the 20%-limit on melanoidin malt? If the mash becomes too acidic, the diastatic enzymes won¡¯t work!) Melanoidin malts also have excellent friability and fairly low ¦Â-glucan values. This enhances lautering performance. They are more malt-aromatic (which is OK in an Alt. including a Sticke) and add more body and mouthfeel to the finished beer (also OK). Importantly, however, melanoidin malts (as opposed to carareds) add deep-amber to red-brown, rather than brilliantly reddish, color values to the beer. For the Sticke, therefore, mostly because of the color contribution, I would use no more than perhaps 15% melanoidin malt (instead of the 20% carared in my Zymurgy recipe).

 

As for the amount of crystal malt I mention in some of the Alt recipes in my book, the answer is more complex:

 

I tried to cover the wide range of Altbiers that I have tasted both in Germany and in the US. At one end of the spectrum is the Schmalz¡¯s Alt from Minnesota, for instance (see p. 114 -- not sure if it is still available nowadays). It seems to contain a TON of highly roasted malts. At the other end of the spectrum is the Schumacher Alt, which is made from just one type of Munich malt (which I happen to know is Weyermann Munich Type I producing a wort of 5.1 - 7.3¡ãL/SRM ). The Enderlein Alt recipe (pp. 105/106) is based entirely on this brew.

 

The crystal quantities I mention in some of the recipes are deliberate. No typos. In D¨¹sseldorf, there are clear differences between, say a F¨¹chschen or Uehrige Alt, on the one hand, and a Hannen or Diebels Alt, on the other. The former are lighter-copper in color with very little residual sweetness in the finish, while the latter are more reddish-brown with a much maltier aftertaste. I happen to know that the color in the darker D¨¹sseldorf Altbiers comes from the addition by those breweries of a malt-essence coloring agent called SINAMAR. This is a patented tincture made by the Weyermann Malting Company of Bamberg. It was invented n 1903. It is made entirely made from a vacuum-evaporated, unhopped beer brewed just from dehusked Weyermann Carafa malt. Because the grain base of this product is dehusked, there is no bitterness associated with this liquid, just dark concentrated color. Because it is made entirely from barley, it meets the requirements of the German Reinheitsgebot, which makes it a legal ¡°additive¡± to beer.

 

When I wrote the manuscript for the Alt book in 1997/8, SINAMAR was not available in North America, so I did not mention it then. For the darker versions of Altbier, therefore, I resorted to crystal malt for color in the book. To avoid roasty notes, though, I kept the color value to no more than 60¡ãL. Now, since last year, SINAMAR is available in the United States, where it is imported and distributed by Crosby & Baker. Of course, I would mention SINAMAR as an option today.

 

The grain bill of my own commercial Alt, which won a bronze medal at the 2000 GABF, contained about 15% crystal from Briess, at 60¡ãL. As a test, I once made the same Altbier by replacing the Briess crystal with an equivalent amount (calculated on color value, not weight) of Carastan Malt. This malt is roasted at about 300¡ãF (150¡ãC). The mathematical color value of the two brews was supposed to be identical, but visually the Carastan beer turned out almost as dark as a Porter, compared to the brilliant copper-red color of the Briess crystal beer. The two beers also tasted completely differently. The Carastan Alt tasted too acrid and toffee-toasty to be an Alt. The Briess Alt, by contrast, was even identified in a blind taste test by the best-known German-language beer writer, Conrad Seidl, as being an authentic Alt.

 

From this I conclude that you can both succeed and fail in making an authentic Altbier with crystal. What I was after in the recipes in which I used crystal (and I tested them all!), was color without roastiness. If you rely on crystal for color, they key, at least in my experience, is to get the right BRAND of crystal. You want a crystal malt that is stewed longer at lower temperatures rather than faster at higher temperatures. Also, you want a crystal malt that is produced in a roasting drum, not in a kilning box. For these reasons, I disclosed on p. 34 of the book, that I had used Briess malt for all the test batches. I did not disclose the brand to give Briess a plug, but because I knew the recipes worked with this brand. Weyermann malts work well too, by the way.

 

I understand why some people do not believe I should have used crystal at all (or up to 15%) in the recipes, but the reality is that these critics may not be sufficiently familiar with ALL the varieties of Alt that are and have been brewed in and around D¨¹sseldorf, as well as in Westphalia (with lots of wheat in the grain bill), Frankfurt, Dortmund, Hanover (with lots of crystal!), and even Bavaria (with plenty of residual sweetness). My goal was to be both authentic and comprehensive, while supplying recipes that could actually be made in North America with the ingredients available (then!).

 

I hope this explains, why there is crystal in some (though not all!) of the Alt brews in my book. The explanation I am giving you here is probably something that I should have included explicitly in the original book manuscript. If you could rewrite the book today, I certainly would do so. Please, feel free to disseminate this information to everybody in your discussion group, and keep me in the loop.

 

Cheers.

Horst

 

P.S. Amidst the many complimentary reviews the Alt book has received since publication, there was a small sprinkling of inexplicably vicious and dismissive attacks, mostly by self-appointed, self-important know-it-all experts who have obviously never been in a real Altbier brew house or talked to a real Altbier brew master. I did not grace any of these uncivil broadsides with a reply, because their opinionated and dogmatic tone made dialog a priori impossible. However, I gladly reply to your query. Thank you for being a gentleman."
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 04, 2011, 10:05:49 am
Interesting reading, I'm surprised that you would use crystal simply for color when it brings so much with it.  You could get neutral color from a little dab of dehusked carafa added late in a mash.  I do think there are sweeter alts though, and in this country BluCreek makes a fairly sweet alt that is pretty tasty.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Kaiser on January 04, 2011, 10:08:43 am
Denny,

Thanks for posting this. I think it explains a lot. This part in particular might be key in understanding his recipes:

Quote
I understand why some people do not believe I should have used crystal at all (or up to 15%) in the recipes, but the reality is that these critics may not be sufficiently familiar with ALL the varieties of Alt that are and have been brewed in and around D¨¹sseldorf, as well as in Westphalia (with lots of wheat in the grain bill), Frankfurt, Dortmund, Hanover (with lots of crystal!), and even Bavaria (with plenty of residual sweetness). My goal was to be both authentic and comprehensive, while supplying recipes that could actually be made in North America with the ingredients available (then!).

Many  Germans, me included, have not been exposed to a variety of Altbiers. They are a very localized beer style and except for some of the larger brands, like Diebels, only available in northwest Germany. One you may be able to say that one dosn’t like an Alt with that much crystal but you may not be able to say that this much crystal is out of line for an Alt. The same would go for bitterness, I think. German Alts tend to be less bitter than many American brewers think. Their bitterness level tends to be similar to North German Pils styles.

Kai

Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 04, 2011, 10:20:38 am
Interesting reading, I'm surprised that you would use crystal simply for color when it brings so much with it.  You could get neutral color from a little dab of dehusked carafa added late in a mash.  I do think there are sweeter alts though, and in this country BluCreek makes a fairly sweet alt that is pretty tasty.

Like Sinamar, though, carafa wasn't available to homebrewers at that time.  While I can't agree that crystal is a good alternative, I respect his opinions.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 04, 2011, 12:31:13 pm
Wow its hard to believe those malts weren't available twelve years ago.  Of course his research was probably based on experiences from another ten to twenty years prior, with no internet.

I do think 5% crystal in an alt isn't a bad level is it?  Thats what was in his altstadt recipe.  Thats a pretty modest amount.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: majorvices on January 04, 2011, 12:52:39 pm
Wow its hard to believe those malts weren't available twelve years ago.  Of course his research was probably based on experiences from another ten to twenty years prior, with no internet.

I do think 5% crystal in an alt isn't a bad level is it?  Thats what was in his altstadt recipe.  Thats a pretty modest amount.

I use 4.5% Cara Vienne and 4.5% Cara Minuch (for a total of 9% crystal malts) in my alt.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Kaiser on January 04, 2011, 01:12:29 pm
I use 10% CaraMunich I and I like it a lot.

Kai
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: jasoncap on January 04, 2011, 02:17:35 pm
Major and Kai - what do you find the crystal malt additions add to your beer that you wouldn't get with a very high percentage (80+%) of Munich, or a combo of Munich 1 and 2 with some Carafa Special to adjust color?

The reason I ask is I have set a goal this year to brew the perfect Alt, or at least close to it, and I am looking for all the suggestions/advice I can get. 

Thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: davidw on January 04, 2011, 02:57:35 pm
Ahem, okay, so who is going to tell John at Rogue that 20% crystal in a beer is a bad thing? Anyone remember that article in BYO (IIRC) five or six years ago where the recipe for Rogue Red (straight from him) had something like 20-30% crystal and munich malt in it? Just sayin . . .
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 04, 2011, 03:13:20 pm
Zum Uerige's recipe supposedly has only 2.5% caramunich.  And Denny's Milo alt has no crystal.

I've always heard the "rule" that 20% is upper end for crystal, and since I'm not big on sweet beers I've rarely even used 10% but I'm inching upwards because I keep drinking great commercial craft brews that just seem to have more malty flavors than I am coming up with in my beer.  I've also procured some better quality malts, but I am thinking the sweetness might bring out the flavors somewhat better.  I'm also mashing at a little higher temp to get more body and maybe a little more sweetness.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: chumley on January 04, 2011, 05:10:15 pm
Personally, I detest Rogue beers because of all the crystal malt.  As I noted earlier, high percentages of crystal malt in beer just doesn't taste good to me. I'm sure Mr. Dornbusch's recipes are technically accurate, but I have no urge to brew any of them (well, not the ones with a boatload of crystal malt).

He once had a Helles recipe in BYO that called for some outrageous amount of carapils.  I can't see brewing that one either.

I'm with the other posters who stick to 10% or less crystal in the alts.  For me, those would be the pilsner malt-based ones.  I wouldn't use any crystal in an all-Munich malt alt.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Kaiser on January 04, 2011, 05:14:45 pm
Major and Kai - what do you find the crystal malt additions add to your beer that you wouldn't get with a very high percentage (80+%) of Munich, or a combo of Munich 1 and 2 with some Carafa Special to adjust color?

I actually brew my Alt[\url] with 89% light Munich and 1% Carafa as well. The crystal taste is very distinct from the Munich on that it doesn't have the dark toasted character. But it also doesn't really impart sweetness to the beer either. The final extract for my Alt tends to be around 2 Plato (1.008) and with that it is very drinkable.

Maybe the others can help. Are there any good commercial taste examples for crystal, roasted malt and Munich out there?  I know that Budweiser American Ale has a pronounced crystal taste.

Kai
 (http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Kaiser_Alt)
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 04, 2011, 05:46:19 pm
Ahem, okay, so who is going to tell John at Rogue that 20% crystal in a beer is a bad thing? Anyone remember that article in BYO (IIRC) five or six years ago where the recipe for Rogue Red (straight from him) had something like 20-30% crystal and munich malt in it? Just sayin . . .

20% crystal is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your goals.  Both my Rye IPA and BVIP have a lot more crystal than most recipes, but they seem to be pretty well accepted.  But when I make an alt, I want it crisp and dry.  Over the years, I've gone back and forth on adding small amounts of crystal to my alts.  These days I leave it out.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 04, 2011, 05:47:13 pm
Wow its hard to believe those malts weren't available twelve years ago.  Of course his research was probably based on experiences from another ten to twenty years prior, with no internet.

I do think 5% crystal in an alt isn't a bad level is it?  Thats what was in his altstadt recipe.  Thats a pretty modest amount.

I started brewing in March of 1998, just under 13 years ago.  I've seen a huge increase in the availability of ingredients in that time.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 04, 2011, 05:48:26 pm
And Denny's Milo alt has no crystal.

It used to.  the original recipe used 1/2-1 lb., IIRC.  I'll have to dig up the recipe to double check.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Malticulous on January 04, 2011, 08:26:32 pm
I stumbled over this a little while ago.
http://www.tastybrew.com/brews/view/18

I was actually looking for Alt with no crystal because right now I only have a little Pilsner and Munich malt. The Alts I've made before used about 5% of Caramunich.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: majorvices on January 05, 2011, 05:12:15 am
Major and Kai - what do you find the crystal malt additions add to your beer that you wouldn't get with a very high percentage (80+%) of Munich, or a combo of Munich 1 and 2 with some Carafa Special to adjust color?

The reason I ask is I have set a goal this year to brew the perfect Alt, or at least close to it, and I am looking for all the suggestions/advice I can get. 

Thanks in advance.

My recipe uses a blend of Vienna and Munich as the base malt and a touch of carafa to make it darker. I like the malt back bone that the blend of cara vienne and cara munich gives the beer. I mash relatively low (150-152 for about 90 minutes) and the beer finishes out fairly dry in spite of all the crystal.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 05, 2011, 06:05:38 am
I knew I should've let Denny report on his recipe, sorry.  I was going off this '09 report.

http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=80186&p=749514&hilit=Milo+alt#p749514
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: mabrungard on January 05, 2011, 06:16:56 am
I've been a long-term fan of Al Korzonas' Alt recipe that is 89% Munich malt and 11% Aromatic malt with a big charge of Spalt hops at 90 minutes. 
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 05, 2011, 06:28:06 am
Wow its hard to believe those malts weren't available twelve years ago.  Of course his research was probably based on experiences from another ten to twenty years prior, with no internet.

I do think 5% crystal in an alt isn't a bad level is it?  Thats what was in his altstadt recipe.  Thats a pretty modest amount.

I started brewing in March of 1998, just under 13 years ago.  I've seen a huge increase in the availability of ingredients in that time.

Couldn't you have just kilned some of your base malt though?  Assuming you could get the fire started by rubbing two sticks together.

Man the good alt recipes are coming out of the woodwork now, I love it!

Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: davidw on January 05, 2011, 07:15:45 am
Personally, I detest Rogue beers because of all the crystal malt.

Well, chumster, I would hazzard a guess that you are in the minority.

The point I was getting at is, that much crystal is not necessarily a bad thing. I would think Rogue gets away with it because of the high attenuation of their Pacman yeast. And to relate this to the topic, consider that one of the parameters for an alt is high attenuation. Along the lines of 80% I do believe. Low temp and a longer mash will aid in attenuation for an alt along with a healthy pitching rate. Mine have always ended up in the range of 77-82% AA.

Now with that said, I rarely use any more than 5 to 10% crystal in my alt grist bills, if at all. My favorite recipe continues to be 100% Munich malt, (with just a touch of carafa to get the colour right), all Spalt hops and Wyeast 1007. It is delicious!
 
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: majorvices on January 05, 2011, 07:20:39 am
I guess I'll put it out there that I'm not a huge Rogue fan either, though I certainly don't "detest" their beers. Just not a huge fan. I do like there Imperial India Pale Ale, but that beer does not use much crystal.  ;) I also like the Shakespeare Stout fairly well, when I'm in the mood for a stout. Which isn't very often.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 05, 2011, 09:24:41 am
I stumbled over this a little while ago.
http://www.tastybrew.com/brews/view/18

I was actually looking for Alt with no crystal because right now I only have a little Pilsner and Munich malt. The Alts I've made before used about 5% of Caramunich.

That's the old recipe.  These days I use no crystal only Munich and pils malts and Sinamar for color.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 05, 2011, 09:25:45 am
I've been a long-term fan of Al Korzonas' Alt recipe that is 89% Munich malt and 11% Aromatic malt with a big charge of Spalt hops at 90 minutes. 

That was the recipe that got me to go all grain!
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 05, 2011, 09:26:31 am
Couldn't you have just kilned some of your base malt though?  Assuming you could get the fire started by rubbing two sticks together.

Why, I oughta.....;)
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: chumley on January 05, 2011, 09:40:31 am
Well....I don't detest "all" of Rogue's beers, just most of them. The Morimoto Imperial pilsner is a dandy beer, and I can stomach Brutal Bitter once a while when I have a taste for a sweet ale. ;)

The worst, though, is "Dead Guy Ale", which I think is actually billed as an alt.  I do detest that beer. I dislike their Irish lager as well.

I used to be a fan of the Al K recipe, but I had a series of disappointing string of beers with it when I changed Munich malts (unwillingly, DWC malt was discontinued). I should give that a try again sometime.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: bluesman on January 05, 2011, 09:42:28 am
I make my D-Altbier using:

83% Pils
10% Munich
5% Caramunich
2% Carafa

I use a double decoction although a single infusion works well too. I like the very slight roastiness from the carafa in this recipe. I can't keep it on tap very long as my family and friends love this one.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 05, 2011, 10:21:51 am
Well....I don't detest "all" of Rogue's beers, just most of them. The Morimoto Imperial pilsner is a dandy beer, and I can stomach Brutal Bitter once a while when I have a taste for a sweet ale. ;)

The worst, though, is "Dead Guy Ale", which I think is actually billed as an alt.  I do detest that beer. I dislike their Irish lager as well.

I used to be a fan of the Al K recipe, but I had a series of disappointing string of beers with it when I changed Munich malts (unwillingly, DWC malt was discontinued). I should give that a try again sometime.

Dead Guy is called a maibock, but I know that John realizes it's not.  But Dead Guy does for Rogue what Fat Tire does for NB....allows them to make some other really great beers.

Funny you like the Impy pils....for me, that's one that's too sweet.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: skyler on January 06, 2011, 01:00:39 am
I likr Rogue beer fine - particularly brutal bitter/ipa and their imperial stout and imperial ysb. That being said, I am never willing to spend $10.99 for a sixer of Rogue (or Stone) when I can buy equally-good beer with unpainted bottles for $6.99-7.99.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: majorvices on January 06, 2011, 05:53:56 am
I guess part of the thing with Rogue for me is that they don't have freshness dates on their beer (at least, they didn't used to, not sure about now). Had too many beers from than that sat on the shelf way too long. One of the most important ingredients to me in a beer is "freshness". I just don't care for old tasting beer.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 07, 2011, 07:51:27 am
I kegged my first real attempt at alt last night.  The FG was 1.015 (OG 1.051), I guess my decoction mash and the use of caramunich and cararoma did bring more body to the beer.  It wasn't overly sweet so I can live with the 70% attenuation.  It does have a borderline roasty note to it though.  The wife described the flavor as coffee, I thought it was slightly chocolate but with a roasty hint.  I used the equivalent of 3oz of carafa special 1, I suppose this is the source of the flavor?  I'm brewing another tonight, doing an all light Munich base with 5% Caramunich 1.

I also detected just a hint of sulfur in the beer, I purged it a few times with CO2 as I was putting the keg on gas to try and get rid of that.  Hopefully that'll dissipate during lagering.  Its in the lager fridge at 30F now, I'll give it as long as possible before breaking it out.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: blatz on January 07, 2011, 08:03:09 am
I also detected just a hint of sulfur in the beer, I purged it a few times with CO2 as I was putting the keg on gas to try and get rid of that.  Hopefully that'll dissipate during lagering.  Its in the lager fridge at 30F now, I'll give it as long as possible before breaking it out.

one thing to try (majorvices helped me with this a couple years back) is to hook the gas up to the beer side and bubble the CO2 up through the beer - will help release some of the sulfur.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: davidw on January 07, 2011, 08:26:22 am
It will dissipate during lagering.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 07, 2011, 08:32:58 am
I kegged my first real attempt at alt last night.  The FG was 1.015 (OG 1.051), I guess my decoction mash and the use of caramunich and cararoma did bring more body to the beer.  It wasn't overly sweet so I can live with the 70% attenuation.  It does have a borderline roasty note to it though.  The wife described the flavor as coffee, I thought it was slightly chocolate but with a roasty hint.  I used the equivalent of 3oz of carafa special 1, I suppose this is the source of the flavor?  I'm brewing another tonight, doing an all light Munich base with 5% Caramunich 1.


I'd recommend no more than an oz. of carafa.  I've switched to Sinamar for coloring alts and prefer that to carafa.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 07, 2011, 09:38:25 am
one thing to try (majorvices helped me with this a couple years back) is to hook the gas up to the beer side and bubble the CO2 up through the beer - will help release some of the sulfur.

That's how I always carbonate my kegs.  I really didn't smell sulfur when I purged the gas a few times so I think its going to be fine.

[I'd recommend no more than an oz. of carafa.  I've switched to Sinamar for coloring alts and prefer that to carafa.

I avoided it entirely this time.  Its not the roasty note is overwhelming or unpleasant, I just think it is out of place for the style.  I may get some sinemar, or at least add carafa late in the mash if the color is needed.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 07, 2011, 09:40:20 am
Another general alt question.  Why do so many recipes use a combination of pils and munich malt, when a light munich is only 6-7L anyway?  Is all munich too overpowering in terms of the flavor?  I was going to try that Al K recipe but found I was out of Aromatic.

Sorry if it sounds like I'm "virtual-brewing", I do intend to try these different approaches to find out what I like best.  Just can't do a real brew while I'm here at work.  This morning I did weigh and crush the grist, load it in the MLT, and put my water and brewing salts in the pot so I can heat and mash as soon as I get home.  I even considered an all-day mash but I think I want to keep using a mash schedule that leaves a little more body.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: johnf on January 07, 2011, 09:45:36 am
Another general alt question.  Why do so many recipes use a combination of pils and munich malt, when a light munich is only 6-7L anyway?  Is all munich too overpowering in terms of the flavor?  I was going to try that Al K recipe but found I was out of Aromatic.

Probably because most of the Dusseldorf alts are made that way including Zum Uerige which a lot of people will name as the archetype or their favorite (and AFAIK the only altstadt beer available in the US).

Schumacher is all light munich and is distinctive because of it.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 07, 2011, 10:50:42 am
The fellow I talked to at Zum Uerige in '02 while he was shoveling grain said pils malz, caramalz, farbe malz.  Might have been the guy who Denny has referred ot on the HBD - the brewer - who's recipe looks like that.

I talked with Al K at the Chicago NHC about that, and he said that he may have misunderstood.  I get Munich malt in the Schumacher Alt, but not in the Zum Uerige.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: johnf on January 07, 2011, 11:25:05 am
The fellow I talked to at Zum Uerige in '02 while he was shoveling grain said pils malz, caramalz, farbe malz.  Might have been the guy who Denny has referred ot on the HBD - the brewer - who's recipe looks like that.

I talked with Al K at the Chicago NHC about that, and he said that he may have misunderstood.  I get Munich malt in the Schumacher Alt, but not in the Zum Uerige.

Yeah I meant Zum Uerige uses a pilsner malt base not specifically a pilsner and munich grist.

Shumacher was my favorite and how I thought alt would taste when I first heard about it (a highly hopped copper colored top fermenting German beer). They were all good though. Very high on my list of places to go back to.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: jasoncap on January 07, 2011, 12:03:16 pm
Tom,

I use about 2-3 oz of Carafa Special (along with 80%+ Munich and usually some Pale Ale Malt) in my alts and I have never picked up a roasty note from that small amount.  Maybe I don't have that sensitive a palate?   Was that 2-3 oz in a 5 gallon batch?
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 07, 2011, 04:42:20 pm
My grist was:

53.4% pils
35.6% light Munich
4.4% caramunich 1
2.2% cararoma
2.2% melanoidin
2.2% carafa special 2

I thought the roasty flavor came from the carafa but it could be a combination effect.  And if lagering tames it down a bit it might be more in the realm of toffee than coffee.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 08, 2011, 09:17:13 pm
CaraAroma has a toasty notes.
I would leave it out.
Another trick is to add Carafa Special to the mash out.
This will reduce contact time and gives you the color but reduce roastines.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: johnnyb on January 09, 2011, 08:22:49 am
CaraAroma has a toasty notes.
I would leave it out.
Another trick is to add Carafa Special to the mash out.
This will reduce contact time and gives you the color but reduce roastines.

Could I add the Carafa Special just prior to batch sparging and let the sparge water soak for 5 or 10 minutes before draining?
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 09, 2011, 09:45:28 am
Yes, you can do that.  Personally, I find Sinamar much easier to use, though.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 09, 2011, 10:49:06 am
Where are you getting sinemar Denny?
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 09, 2011, 11:03:38 am
Where are you getting sinemar Denny?

At my LHBS.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: lonnie mac on January 09, 2011, 01:15:57 pm
Wow, this whole thread has really inspired me! Like Denny, a guess in about 12-13 years and over 300 batches you would think I have brewed an Alt at some point! Nope. Never...

I'll be brewing up Kai's recipe this weekend.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: corkybstewart on January 09, 2011, 05:33:23 pm
Where are you getting sinemar Denny?

At my LHBS.
Must be nice-my closest LHBS is 200 miles away and they had never heard of lambics or sour beers, the possibility of them having Sinemar is laughable.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: richardt on January 09, 2011, 05:49:50 pm
http://www.rebelbrewer.com/shoppingcart/products/Sinamar-Coloring-Agent-%252d-4-oz..html (http://www.rebelbrewer.com/shoppingcart/products/Sinamar-Coloring-Agent-%252d-4-oz..html)
Here you go.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: majorvices on January 09, 2011, 06:16:25 pm
Another general alt question.  Why do so many recipes use a combination of pils and munich malt, when a light munich is only 6-7L anyway?  Is all munich too overpowering in terms of the flavor?  I was going to try that Al K recipe but found I was out of Aromatic.


They use the pils malt "for the enzymes" according to a recipe I have seen from a German Brewmaster a few years back. Some may argue whether or not this is necessary. But I would recommend never arguing with a German Brewmaster.  ;)

Also, I mispoke about my grain bill earlier. That was an old recipe. My grain bill for my alt is Vienna, Munich, pilsner, cara munich and a touch of carafa special. And I prefer the carafa special to the sinmar, personally.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 09, 2011, 06:38:13 pm
Yes, you can do that.  Personally, I find Sinamar much easier to use, though.

Easy but not cheap!  Does easy trump cheap (I am kidding here Denny)?

Wait a minute. Hey, this is about 1/2 of what I paid for the stuff at the LHBS.  Not too bad for 4 oz.
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=sinamar

Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: lonnie mac on January 16, 2011, 07:19:54 pm
Ah, just finished the longest brew day of my life! Looks like it will be a perfect brew too using Kai's Alt recipe. I hadn't realized how slow a 100% Munich base malt mash would take to convert but Scotty, it's all she's got now... Dang you Kai! My arms are friggin worn out! The color is spot on to your recipe. It's happily fermenting away now...
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 17, 2011, 08:47:12 am
Ya know, I keep hearing about how difficult and/or slow it is for a 100% Munich grist to convert, yet I've done it may times (using both domestic and continental Munich) and haven't experience it myself.  What am I doing wrong?  ;)
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 17, 2011, 09:03:36 am
Ya know, I keep hearing about how difficult and/or slow it is for a 100% Munich grist to convert, yet I've done it may times (using both domestic and continental Munich) and haven't experience it myself.  What am I doing wrong?  ;)

You using the traditional chicha mash method?
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: johnf on January 17, 2011, 10:01:37 am
Ya know, I keep hearing about how difficult and/or slow it is for a 100% Munich grist to convert, yet I've done it may times (using both domestic and continental Munich) and haven't experience it myself.  What am I doing wrong?  ;)
Could be a brand thing. Weyermann Munich I, for example, seems to convert easily at 100%. Also could be that your water happens to give a pH close to the optimum for alpha amalyse. I know you are an advocate of a fine crush for batch sparging, that could allow the enzymes to get into solution and active sooner.

Kai has used more Munich malts than me (I aways use the two Weyermann ones and I always use a bit of pilsner with Weyermann II) and he has complained about problems getting some of them to convert, so I think it is primarily brand/type.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: corkybstewart on January 17, 2011, 10:38:26 am
I brewed my dopple alt this weekend with 15 pounds of Munich, 10 pounds Pilsner, 6 oz's of carafa special and 1 pound of Caravienne for a 10 gallon batch.  I was really surprised how dark it turned out.  My son gave me a couple of bottles of Uerige sticke dopple alt and it's very dark too, so maybe I'm not too far off.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 17, 2011, 10:41:18 am
Could be a brand thing. Weyermann Munich I, for example, seems to convert easily at 100%. Also could be that your water happens to give a pH close to the optimum for alpha amalyse. I know you are an advocate of a fine crush for batch sparging, that could allow the enzymes to get into solution and active sooner.

Kai has used more Munich malts than me (I aways use the two Weyermann ones and I always use a bit of pilsner with Weyermann II) and he has complained about problems getting some of them to convert, so I think it is primarily brand/type.

Good points on water and crush.  I've used Great Western, Weyermann II, Best II and a couple other continental dark Munichs I can't think of at the moment.  Never had a problem wiht any of them.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on January 17, 2011, 07:40:06 pm
I have a similar experience with Munich II 100% mashes as Denny but I step mash.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 18, 2011, 06:26:22 am
What beer grist calls for 100% Munich?
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: Kaiser on January 18, 2011, 06:55:15 am
My Alt recipe uses Weyermann Munich I as its base and in my experience this malt converts just fine. It's the Best Malz Dark Munich that I had problems with in the past.

Kai
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: johnf on January 18, 2011, 07:47:58 am
What beer grist calls for 100% Munich?

Nearly every traditional Munich dunkle or dark bock recipe will at the very least have no diastatic power from other than munich malt.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: denny on January 18, 2011, 10:01:01 am
What beer grist calls for 100% Munich?

Nearly every traditional Munich dunkle or dark bock recipe will at the very least have no diastatic power from other than munich malt.

Besides traditional styles, I also make a 100% Munich AIPA and what I can an "uber alt" that's 100% Munich.
Title: Re: Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
Post by: tomsawyer on January 18, 2011, 10:10:49 am
I'm intending to try the Korzonas recipe, in fact I ordered more Aromatic just for that purpose.  Will have to give a dunkel and an Ofest a try since I'm set p for proper lagers now.  Bleeding some off in my APAs sounds good too.  I'm not a fan of bock so I was wondering how else I could work through this sack.