Thursday, August 19, 2010

On creationism...

No, I'm not talking about creationism in the theological sense. I'm talking about creating a new beer style! So here's the deal...

Every year we brew three beers for Novemberfest, and one of them is an Oktoberfest/Märzen style. Well, it occurred to me that since the party is called Novemberfest, not Oktoberfest, we should come up with a unique style to declare the official beer of Novemberfest (a Spätjahren--"late year" or autumn beer--if you want an analog for Märzen). Now I've already brewed an Oktoberfest, as well as a Schwarzbier, for this year's Novemberfest. Initially I was planning on making the third beer an Altbier, and then I thought of making it a Dampfbier (since it's a little more of an easy-drinker than the Alt). But now my inclination is to go brew the inaugural Novemberfest/Spätjahren. So what should it be?

Here are my initial requirements:

1. It must be German-inspired in its ingredients, techniques, etc.

2. It must be relatively light (i.e. it won't scare off casual beer drinkers).

3. It must be an ale (I might have time to brew one more lager before Novemberfest but I'd prefer to have the flexibility of brewing an ale).

So there we have it. Somewhat restrictive, but not overly so, right? Well, I have a few ideas up my sleeve. I figured I'd post them now and see if anybody has other ideas (or suggestions regarding mine). Here are the two I'm considering right now:

Prototype #1: Grain bill of 90% pilsner, 5% Munich, 5% wheat. Starting gravity around 1065. Around 30 IBU's. Fermented with WLP 380 (American Hefe yeast). The idea here is to make a beer that's part Kölsch (the ratio in the grain bill and the fact that it's an ale), part Maibock (the higher gravity and the more aggressive hopping), and part Kellerbier (the American Hefe yeast, which was originally an Alt yeast and is fairly similar to a Kölsch yeast but doesn't flocculate well, thus giving it a cloudy appearance).

Prototype #2: Grain bill of 55% pilsner, 25% rye malt, 15% Munich, 5% carapils. Starting gravity around 1048. Around 35 IBU's. Fermented with WLP 029 (German ale-Kölsch yeast). The idea here is to basically make a light version of a Düsseldorf Altbier but adding rye to add some complexity to the malt profile. I had an awesome Belgian tripel brewed with rye at the now-defunct Mattlingly brewpub in St. Louis that opened my eyes to what rye can do in lighter ales so I think this could be quite interesting. My only concern is that it might be too hoppy for many people there.

Thoughts? Warnings? Anybody else have an idea for this new style?

P.S. I stole the above image from these guys. Just figured I should give credit where credit is due.


Anonymous Minnesota Brew Boy said...

Think your prototype 2 has great possibilities -- the altbier is a style many/most haven't heard of, but it's still accessible to the non-homebrew/craft brew drinkers. I don't think 35 IBU is to hoppy - maybe challenging some, but not absolute 'yuck'. Have you worked with rye before? Used rye flakes this weekend; gooey mess, and really made for a difficult step mash -- tried to cook it first. I think using rye malt may give the rye flavor but yet be easier to work with.

5:01 PM, August 19, 2010  
Blogger Hunington said...

Hmm, maybe a "German Pale Ale" swapping out German ingredients for Belgian. It's pale and dry, it's German-inspired, it's an ale. Maybe it's just a Dampf beer?

German Pale Ale: The original is at

11 lbs. - Pilsner Malt (German)
1 lb. - wheat or rye
1 lb. - Victory malt
1 lb. - CaraMunich Malt
1/2 lb - Light sugar or Honey (end of boil)

Hop Schedule (26 IBU)

3/4oz - Tett or Hallertauer (60 Min.)
1oz - Tett or Hallertauer (20 Min.)
1/2 oz - Saaz (15 Min.)
1 oz - Saaz (5 Min.)
Yeast -- 003 German Ale II; 011 European Ale (Wisenschaftliche Station #338 (Munich)); or an Alt or Kolsch yeast.

5:27 PM, August 19, 2010  
Blogger Señor Brew™ said...

How about a German Pils fermented with an ale yeast? Kind of like a German blonde ale? Will be a big hit with the non-"craft" beer drinkers.

10:32 PM, August 19, 2010  
Blogger Russ said...

Minny- I've brewed with rye malt a couple time. I've been pretty generous with the rice hulls and haven't had too much of a problem. That being said, I've found flaked anything can be pretty damn gummy.

Hunington- Interesting thought... The idea of brewing with honey again did cross my mind.

Señor- I'd definitely like that one, but I think I want to go a little more experimental with this one. Plus I'm hoping to brew a regular ol' Pilsner soon!

10:43 PM, August 19, 2010  
Blogger Ryan said...

How bout a Kotbusser?

Its a pretty much dead german style, basically a Hefe grist with a sizeable addition of oats, honey and molasses, fermented with a hef yeast

I made one a couple years back and it was a big hit, very easy drinking and lots of flavor

12:23 AM, August 25, 2010  
Blogger Russ said...

Ryan, I thought about possibly brewing an obscure, dead German style but thought it would be more interesting to come up with something new altogether. That being said, the Kotbusser sounds pretty damn good and I may try that one in the spring. Did you read about it in Radical Brewing?

1:17 PM, August 26, 2010  
Blogger Ryan said...

originally yes, but recently I read about it on Barclay perkins

8:28 PM, August 28, 2010  

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