Saturday, February 6, 2010

Steinsdorf Schwarz

When I lived in Germany, I drank lots of beers and lots of different beers. But the most memorable moments seemed to take place with the darkest of the dark lagers, the Schwarzbier. My host family had a garden house in Bad Köstritz, home of the famous Köstritzer. The world owes this beer a debt of gratitude culturally, as it was the beer that Goethe would sustain himself with when he was too sick to eat. Indeed, I remember my host mom warming some of this beer to give to me when I was so sick that they nearly stuck me in an ice bath to try and break a fever. The other great black beer memory I have was a trip to Prague with my host dad and brothers where we drank some of the divine dark lagers at U Fleků. The pub had been in business more than 250 years when the Declaration of Independence was written, and it was amazing to think about that in the Prague sun in the garden with trees growing up through the tables.

Obviously, I've got some fond memories of this style, so it was important that I do this one right. Named after a town next to the town where I lived, where my buddy Igor is from, Steinsdorf Schwarz. The village of stones. A proper name for a dark lager.

Steinsdorf Schwarz

Pilsener Malt- 3 lbs
Vienna Malt- 3 lbs
Dark Munich- 2 lbs
Melanoidin- 8 oz
Carafa 2 400L- 6 oz

Hallertauer Northen Brewer- 1 oz- 60 minutes

White Labs WLP833 Bock- Yeast cake from Winter Solstice Dunkel and Bock Bier

Mash Schedule-
151/167- hot water infusion

Gravity- Target/Actual/Final/ABV-

The style is sometimes referred to as Black Pils, so I elected for a bigger Carfa charge in this beer to try to get most of the color from there. I also elected to do a single water infusion, trying to keep this simple. Also, in keeping with the general idea of the Black Pils, I wanted to let the melded flavors of malt and bitterness tell the story, as opposed to hitting you in the head with the malts. I also stuck with a single, albeit large hop addition with a fairly high alpha acid varietal, Northern Brewer.

The exciting bit today was getting to use my new mash tun from More Beer. It was well worth the expense, as you can tell immediately that it's built to last. It also made the brew day faster as far as getting the mash going was concerned. With the cooler, I would heat my mash water up to a few degrees higher, then have to wait until the cooler had absorbed some of the heat, then started mashing. If I missed too high, getting that correct temp in the cooler could take 20 minutes. With this pot, I was able heat right to the temp, and start the mash right away. Also, because it is three gallons larger than the cooler, I was able to mash at a higher water to grain ratio. The lautering has rarely gone by so quickly.


Tom Michigander said...

Good story to go along with your beer setup. Sounds like my kinda beer.

Leigh said...

Interesting style - I've got a Schwarz scheduled for late this year when I look at smoked grains. Hope it turns out well.

Kevin LaVoy said...

Leigh, thanks for commenting. I don't know if you've used smoked grains before, but I would avoid them if you're trying to brew to style with this. It can take over real quick. If not, have at it! I love smoked beers.

This one ended up turning out pretyt decent, although in retrospect, I might opt for a debittered version of the Carafa for the color grains.