Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Final analysis: F5 Altbier

So, at long last I'm getting around to critiquing my Alt. Unfortunately, it's starting to oxidize a hair so I'm not going to do complete tasting notes. However, I had a chance to sit down with Doug and Tracy Hurst of Metropolitan Brewing (after the brewery visit which I blogged about here) and do a tasting of my Alt (brewed with WLP 029 German Ale/Kölsch yeast... I stupidly forgot to bring a bottle of the Alt fermented with WLP 320 American Hefe) along with Füchschen's Alt and Rock Bottom Chicago's Alt, which was brewed with members of the Chicago Beer Society. This sort of summarizes my conclusions based on the tasting.

Overall, my beer compared favorably with the other two. While I got dinged at the CBS Spooky Brew Review because my Alt was too bitter and not malty enough, it was actually only a hair more bitter than the Rock Bottom Alt brewed with none other than CBS. It was also only slightly more bitter than Füchschen's, though I suspect it would compare favorably with Uerige Alt on tap. I think I'm going to stick with my initial thought of cutting down the bittering hops a tad, but Doug and Tracy insisted I don't cut it much.

As for the malt profile, the one thing I wasn't happy about is I felt it needed a tad more sweetness. The Rock Bottom Alt was definitely sweeter, but Doug noticed a sweetness on the nose that he attributed to crystal malts. My recipe contains only 0.5 lb. Caramunich, so I thought about upping that but Doug felt I should first try upping the mash temp from 152 to 155°F. That combined with slightly reduced bittering hops may give it a little more malt backbone without becoming sweet. I'm also considering substituting 0.5 lb. of the Pils malt bill with Carahell, as this allegedly softens the bitterness, but I don't want to change too many things at once so I'll hold off on that for now.

Now on to the yeast... As I noted above, I stupidly forgot to bring the Alt brewed with the American Hefe yeast (and that yeast allegedly came from Uerige). Rock Bottom's Alt used the same German Ale yeast I did. It's very clean, and while Doug liked it, we did note a little more fruitiness out of the Füchschen beer. I also noted a slight fruitiness in the batch I brewed with the American Hefe yeast, so I'm thinking it might be a better match for brewing an Alt. Unfortunately, the American Hefe yeast doesn't really floculate so it has to be either fined or filtered, and either process increases the likelihood of oxidation.

So overall I think I'm on the right track with my Alt, but I definitely have a couple things to tweak next time around. In the meantime, a quick note on our Dunkelweizen... Leah and I bottled/kegged it on Sunday (Feb. 1). Specifically I bottled about six gallons and kegged the rest; five gallons is currently conditioning (with one cup corn sugar) in the Frink keg (more on that later). In the third week of fermenting it dropped from 1016 to 1012; apparently the WLP 300 yeast really slows down when around 60°F. Tasting it before bottling it seemed like there was a slight sour tang but I'm hoping it was just from the yeast (like you get from Schneider Weisse) as opposed to any infection. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

3 Comments:

Blogger Señor Brew™ said...

Your wife is 9 months pregnant, and she's kegging/bottling beers with you? How did you get her to do that?! The only time I got SWMBO to help me bottle was when it was for a wedding gift for mutual friends of ours!

7:34 AM, February 05, 2009  
Blogger Russ said...

Señor: It helps when your wife is a brewer herself... ;-)

11:24 AM, February 05, 2009  
Blogger Leah said...

To be fair, I did disqualify myself from anything involving bending. Or picking up. Or really exerting myself at all. So I basically sat there and sanitized bottles - not that amazing. But I think I have a good excuse...

8:25 PM, February 05, 2009  

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