Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brew day: F5 Altbier

It's been a busy week. How busy, you ask? Well, I brewed on Sunday and I'm finally blogging about it today. Thursday. During my lunch break at work. Anyway, here it goes...

Sunday I brewed my F5 Altbier. This is my first time brewing the style since visiting Düsseldorf, and I decided to scrap my old recipe all together and craft a new one that was a hybrid of two recipes found in Horst Dornbusch's Altbier book (one which Horst described as a traditional Altstadt Altbier and the other which allegedly came from the technical brewmaster at Brauerei Schumacher). I followed the mash schedule that Iain Wilson at Rock Bottom Orland Park shared with me, as I had the pleasure of trying his Alt at the Great Taste of the Midwest and it was the closest thing to a true Düsseldorf Alt that I've found in the States. I also added a single decoction to boost the malt profile a tad.

I doughed in with a 1.5 qt./lb. water-to-grain ratio at 12:15, overshooting my target protein rest of 125°F by four degrees. Ten minutes later I pulled an 11-qt. decoction from the mash. Adding 1/4 tsp. acid blend to each the mash and the decoction, I brought the decoction to a boil ten minutes later and returned the decoction to the mash after a fifteen-minute boil (so overall there was a twenty-five minute protein rest). The decoction addition brought my mash temp up to 152°F, which it rested at for an hour and ten minutes (thanks to my propane tank running low, which meant it took longer than usual for my sparge water to heat). I added the sparge water to the hot liquor tank at 172°F (lower than my usual 175-178°F).

I recirculated 1.5 gallons of wort from 2:05-2:20 and sparged from 2:20 to 3:25. I ended up collecting 12.5 gallons of wort, which after a 90-minute boil reduced to 11 gallons. I had hop additions at 60 minutes and 2 minutes, though the two minutes ended up being ten minutes after I couldn't find my ice pick to break up my block of ice that I used to pre-chill the water coming into the wort chiller. Anywho, the wort was chilled to ~70°F and added to one 6.5 gallon carboy and two 3-gallon carboys. My original gravity was a bit low (1045 instead of 1049) but I suspect that was due to my paranoia of having the sparge water be too hot after the last brew day. In the future, I think I'm going to stick with adding the sparge water to the hot liquor tank closer to 178°F, and I'll measure the temp of the sparge water as it's actually sparging to see how much heat I'm losing between pumping and sparging.

I'm doing a bit of an experiment, yeast wise. I pitched a 500mL starter of WLP029 (German Ale-Kölsch) into the two 3-gallon carboys. This is the yeast I've used in the past and the yeast Iain at Rock Bottom used, as well as Kevin Blodger, the brewmaster at Gordon Biersch in Bolingbrook who made an excellent Sticke Alt earlier this year. However, for the other carboy I pitched a 500mL starter of WLP320 (American Hefeweizen). As I explained last week, the rumor is this originally came from Uerige and I'm going to test it out, though it will require a clarifying agent in the secondary.

Anyway, I threw the carboys in the chest freezer set at 60°F, and once fermentation was started the next morning I dropped the temp to 55°F (figuring it would run a little hot). It seems to be fermenting away a few days later. If you want to try the Alt, come to Oktoberfest!

In the meantime, I had to rack my Oktoberfest beer to a keg even though it's still fermenting. The good news is the phenolics seem to be subsiding during the diacetyl rest. The bad news is I've got both kegs at room temperature and under pressure (I keep relieving the pressure every morning and night, but since it's still fermenting there's a lot of pressure!). I'm hoping it finishes fermenting in a week or so so I can drop it to lager temps and let it clean up. I really hate to do it this way, but it was either that or keep the Oktoberfest in the chest freezer and start the Altbier at room temp, and I figure there's a much greater risk of phenolics at the beginning of fermentation than at the tail end. I guess we'll find out for sure after it lagers!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what was your grain bill and hop schedule like? i'm getting ready to brew my first all grain alt, and was going just follow one of the recipes from the alt book, but if this came out well, i'd love to hear it

2:55 PM, August 20, 2009  
Blogger Russ said...

My recipe is basically a hybrid between the traditional Düsseldorf Alt and Schumacher Alt recipes that Horst Dornbusch provides in his Alt book. I went with 70% Munich, 20% Pils and 5% CaraMunich III. Hops are at 60 minutes (~40 IBU's) and 2 minutes (1 oz. Spalt per 5 gallons).

4:20 PM, August 21, 2009  

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