Monday, November 10, 2008

Hohenoelsner Alt

It's a weird time of year for me as a beer brewer. I don't have the space/money/equipment to do very much as far as controlling fermentation temperature is concerned. Yeast, like probably all other biological life forms, have an optimum working temperature, and that differs from strain to strain. It's early November though, and while it's definitely colder now than a month ago, it's not quite cold enough for me to start doing lagers.

I started reading through yeast strain guides (I know. I'm strange. I suspect few people on CTA buses are reading the Wyeast catalog), and discovered that there are some German strains that are particularly well suited to cold ale temps, but don't quit working if it actually drops into lager temp territory. These beers (Koelsch, and Alt) are malt driven German barley ales. They have one hop addition at the beginning of the boil, which is particularly nice given how expensive hops are right now. So the first I'm doing is an Altbier.

Hohenoelsner Alt-

Belgian Pilsner- 5 lbs- the LHBS didn't have the full 7 pounds of German malt, so I had to substitute some.
German Pilsner- 2 lbs
Dark Munich- 1 lb
Black Patent- 4 ounces- this addition is mainly for coloring

Mt Hood- 2 ounces- 60 minutes

Wyeast 1007- German Ale- 1200 ml starter

128/149/170- infusions with a traditional decoction mash out

The grain bill itself is a standard looking recipe for a Duesseldorf style Altbier. The hops are decended from the German Hallertauer hop strain, so with that and the German yeast, this isn't too different than what you see in a Rheinland brewery that was brewing an Alt. It should make for a nice malty red colored ale.

Brewing was smooth, as it always is nowadays. I missed my gravity by .002, which I don't feel too bad about. My equipment isn't calibrated down to the quart, so it's hard to get an exact reading as to volumes in the brew kettle.

The yeast was quick to take off, and since I was using a five gallon carboy as a primary, I had to put in a blow off tube, as the starter went bucky. I've never seen so many gigantic chunks of yeast swirling around. The temperature outside dropped at just the right time, so the yeast were held perfectly at 63 degrees.

The name of the beer is named for the tiny village in Germany where I lived for a year back in 1993. It was so small that the cows would walk down the main drag when they moved from the summer pastures to the winter ones.


Jonathan said...

Great solution to tackle two different problems: expensive hops and fluctuating temps. How did it turn out?

Kevin LaVoy said...

It seems to have gone really well. A little darker than I was suspecting. I transferred the beer to the secondary over the weekend, and the sample I tasted was still pretty green, so I'm going to leave it alone for a month before I bottle it to give it time to condition. I'm going to try and start posting pictures and tasting notes on finished beers, so it should be fun.