Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Brew Day: AltBier

I've been looking forward to using the Brewtek (CL400) Old German Ale for a while now, and a Dusseldorf Altbier should be the ideal style for it:

Estimated OG: 1.052 SG, Estimated Color: 14.1 SRM, Estimated IBU: 47.2 IBU
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Munich I (Weyermann) (7.1 SRM)            52.5 %       
Pilsner (Best Malz) (1.8 SRM)             41.2 %       
Melanoidin (Weyermann) (30.0 SRM)         3.1 %        
Caraaroma (130.0 SRM)                     1.6 %        
Carafa Special II (Weyermann) (415.0 SRM) 1.6 %        
Northern Brewer 08 [9.60%]  (60 min)      32.6 IBU     
Wuertumberger (HG '10) [4.50%]  (FWH)      12.1 IBU     
Mt. Hood (HG '10) [5.00%]  (15 min)        1.6 IBU
Wuertumberger (HG '10) [4.50%]  (15 min)      1.2 IBU     
0.022ml/L       Lactic Acid (Sparge)
0.025g/L      Calcium Sulfate (Mash)                      
0.05g/L       Calcium Chloride (Mash)                      
0.075g/L       Calcium Carbonate (Mash) 
0.05g/L       Whirlfloc (Powder/Granules) (Boil)                     
0.05g/L       Yeast Nutrient (Boil)
13.6 billion cells/L  (Starter)  Old German Ale (Brewtek CL400)
The Style Guidelines suggest "Moderately carbonate water" but I didn't want to overdo it so there is a mix of Calcium Carbonate, Chloride and Sulfate.  Low temp single infusion mash @65C so the Munich and specialty malts should provide ample rich malty flavours balanced by the decent amount of hops.
CaraAroma,  Melanoidin, Carafa Special, & Pilsner base
Here is the new grain-crush (same size roller gap, just no pre-conditioning of the malt:
The other new addition to the 'high tech plastic fly sparge arm' is a tiny bit of aluminum foil that 'floats' on top of the grain bed and helps distribute the flow just a little better:
Both the MtHood and Wuertumberger hops were home grown (the MtHood by myself and the Wuertumberger by another home-brewer), hopefully they will add some more interesting flavours since Alt beers traditionally use very spicy Spalt hops.

Since it's virtually impossible to know the exact IBU level of home-grown hops, they're being used mostly for flavour and aroma additions with the bulk of the bittering from the commercially grown, packed and lab-analyzed Northern Brewer.  Even if there is a bit of a difference between the home grown IBU estimation it should not have a large impact on the end result.

First wort hopping (and pre-oxidation of hops) have gotten some attention on various forums recently, with all sorts of theories about how much bitterness and flavour FWH adds.  Some people have suggested that FWH adds less bitterness, others that the bitterness is more rounded and more palatable so it is perceived as a lower bitterness level, others say you should take a percentage of your late hops and add them as FWH but not adjust the bitterness levels.  While there is probably some logic (but not that much testing) behind many of those suggestions, most hop calculations are simply best-guesses anyway, especially when working with home brew quantities and conditions, so it's more about trial and error and finding a beer that tastes good rather than reaching some specific commercial type IBU target.

With this in mind I'm happy to let the brewing software assume the FWH add bitterness at the appropriate level for the full boil duration, but also presume that there may be some perceived roundness and more flavoure from the FWH additions when compared to typical 60min additions.  Besides they look good and make the wort smell so good, so who needs other reasons than that:
Wuertumberger FWH hop addition.
When brewing with all commercial pellet-hops a decent vigorous whirlpool is usually enough to settle the hops and break material in the middle of the kettle.  However whole hops are too bulky, retain too much wort and take up too much room in my kettle to settle neatly in the middle, even if Whirlpooled.  When using a percentage of whole hops, I use a simple 'hop strainer' which is just a slotted copper pickup, much like that on the mash tun.
The hops seem to provide a good filter bed and actually help filter out all the break material, leaving the wort very clear and bright right out of the kettle, which is one reason why I generally prefer to brew with whole hops.  However they do tend to retain a bit more of the wort, resulting in a decrease in efficiency of up to 5%, in the past I've decanted the hops, trub and remaining wort into 2L glass bottles.  The hops and break will settle to the bottom of the bottle and if you were paranoid about efficiency the wort decanted into the fermenting beer, however I typically keep the kettle-dregs and use them to make yeast starters.
Kettle dregs after being left to settle in the fridge for a few days.

No comments:

Post a Comment