Author Topic: Altbier Recipe  (Read 839 times)

musseldoc

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Altbier Recipe
« on: April 18, 2014, 04:12:48 AM »
I am reading Altbier by Dornbusch, and I have a few questions. The book is 16 years old now, so I imagine this may have been hashed out already, but...

First, he describes the Munster Alt as having a sourness to it because it uses a lot of wheat malt.  I don't notice sour flavors when I brew with wheat, so why is sourness contributed to wheat? 

Second, he speaks of the use of crystal malts as almost heresy to German brewers and that they would use little to no crystal malt.  He repeats this several times in the book, however, in all of his recipes (minus the one from a German brewer) he uses 5-10% crystal malt.  Sometimes he even uses multiple kinds of crystal malt in a single recipe.  How do you interpret and/or reconcile this?
« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 04:17:27 AM by musseldoc »

Online klickitat jim

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2014, 06:47:06 AM »
Ive not read the book but at face value I'd take it to mean he is saying Germans don't but he does.

Offline jeffy

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2014, 06:47:45 AM »
I have never been impressed by his level of expertise.  Being German does not make you an expert on beer.
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Offline denny

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2014, 08:11:21 AM »
I definitely get sourness from wheat a lot of times.

I've always had trouble with some of the things in that book, but AFAIK, the use of crystal in the book is fairly accurate, no matter what he says in the text.  For years, I ridiculed it, then came across the recipe fro Zum Uerige, my absolute favorite alt.  There is some crystal in it.  The recipe comes from Dr. Frank Hebmuller, brewmaster at Uerige.  Here's something I wrote on B&V years ago....

Water can be relatively hard with a high carbonate level.  Malt is based on well modified pils, with a bit of caramel malt and a bit of "chocolate roasted wheat malt".  Mash schedule has rests at 125, 144, 158, and 169 (mashout). Boil time is 60-70 min. Mittelfruh, Perle, or Spalt are the preferred hops. Aroma hop addition is about 25% of the total hop amount. Add aroma hops no earlier than 20 min. before flameout. OG is 1.044-1.052. Primary between 59-68F. Secondary at 50F. Then condition at 32F for 14 days. FG should be 1.008-1.014. 4.3-5.5% ABV Here's the recipe he gives for 5 gal. ....

5.9 lb. Pils malt
.15 lb. Caramel malt (e.g. Weyermann Caramunich)
1.34 oz. Chocolate Roasted malt (e.g. weyermann Carafa Spezial Type 1)
.7 oz. Hallertau Mittlefruh - 6.5% - 60 min.
.46 oz. Perele - 7.5% - 60 min.
1.11 oz. Spalt - 5% - 20 min.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 08:13:41 AM by denny »
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Offline goschman

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2015, 03:31:42 PM »
Hey Denny. I am a bit confused by this recipe. There is only ~6.14# of grain for a 5 gallon batch? Should I just scale up proportionally to reach the OG I desire?
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Offline denny

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2015, 03:43:48 PM »
Hey Denny. I am a bit confused by this recipe. There is only ~6.14# of grain for a 5 gallon batch? Should I just scale up proportionally to reach the OG I desire?

Yep.  Wish I had more explanation, but that's what was published.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2015, 03:45:08 PM »
That does look light on the grain.
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Offline Steve Ruch

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2015, 03:47:55 PM »
Hey Denny. I am a bit confused by this recipe. There is only ~6.14# of grain for a 5 gallon batch? Should I just scale up proportionally to reach the OG I desire?

Yep.  Wish I had more explanation, but that's what was published.

That looks like the amount that I'd use in one of my three gallon batches.
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Offline goschman

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2015, 03:48:43 PM »
Okay thanks.

I am not necessarily going for a clone so I came up with this

9.25# pilsner
10 oz caramunich II
4 oz carafa I special
« Last Edit: February 18, 2015, 03:52:13 PM by goschman »
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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2015, 03:52:27 PM »
Okay thanks.

I am not necessarily going for a clone so I came up with this

9.25# pilsner
10 oz caramunich
4 oz carafa I special

I've brewed that recipe by just keeping the % and scaling it up, plus a little more choc wheat for color.  It was good, but I thought it needed a bit more caramunich.  What you've got there looks perfect to me.
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Offline goschman

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2015, 03:57:27 PM »
Okay thanks.

I am not necessarily going for a clone so I came up with this

9.25# pilsner
10 oz caramunich
4 oz carafa I special

I've brewed that recipe by just keeping the % and scaling it up, plus a little more choc wheat for color.  It was good, but I thought it needed a bit more caramunich.  What you've got there looks perfect to me.

Ok cool. I might sub some pilsner out for light munich as well
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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2015, 04:03:59 PM »
That'll work too.  FWIW my best altbier by far was 50/50 Pils & Type II Munich as a base.
Jon W.

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2015, 06:03:40 PM »
I don't have time to look up what I did exactly, but I used the %s to come up with a 10 gallon batch using that malt bill, and had the bittering at 50 IBU. I really like it! Of course I have spent wasted several afternoons and evenings at Zum Uerige drinking the alt there. It is an outlier, but my favorite. No Munich malt for me.
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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2015, 06:33:57 PM »
Second, he speaks of the use of crystal malts as almost heresy to German brewers and that they would use little to no crystal malt.  He repeats this several times in the book, however, in all of his recipes (minus the one from a German brewer) he uses 5-10% crystal malt.  Sometimes he even uses multiple kinds of crystal malt in a single recipe.  How do you interpret and/or reconcile this?

Below is the text of an email from Dornbusch that Denny posted on the Northern Brewer forum back in 2005. 

"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"

Offline majorvices

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Re: Altbier Recipe
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2015, 05:20:25 AM »
Another thing to consider is that there are lots of different alts in Dussledorf and Germany and they don't all taste the same! There are variations on the style.
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