Altbier is a really enjoyable style for me, but it’s tough to find a good version commercially in our area. So, I’ve been brewing it from time to time in the quest for a perfect batch. I think I might have found one!
My jumping off point was the Alstadt Altbier recipe from Horst Dunbusch’s Altbier book. I made a version of it last year, and was fairly happy with the results. At the time, I noted that I would like a touch more hop character, and would also like to experiment with using CaraMunich or something similar instead of American Crystal 60. So…that’s what I did for the latest version!
The base of the new batch is fairly similar to the old one, with 61% pilsner malt,14% Munich I, and 14% Vienna malt. Instead of crystal 60, though, I used an even split of Briess’s Caramel Munich 60L and Weyermann’s Caramunich I. I also swapped out Carafa Special III for Carafa Special I, in the color adjustment (I figure such a small amount won’t make a major flavor difference, but the devil is in the details). Finally, I dropped in some Spalt for the aroma addition (instead of Mt. Hood).
The end result is spectacular. The aroma in a freshly poured glass is absolutely heavenly, and the beer drinks so easily. I will be making this again!
Alstadt Altbier 2.0
- 6.5 lb. Pilsner Zero malt (Viking)
- 1.5 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
- 1.5 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
- 0.5 lb. Caramel Munich 60L malt (Briess)
- 0.5 lb. Caramunich I malt (Weyermann)
- 2 oz. Carafa Special I malt (Weyermann)
- 1.2 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1.0 oz. Spalt Spalter hop pellets (3.0% alpha), 5 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet
- 1 pkg. German ale dry yeast (Fermentis K-97)
- 1.048 s.g., 1.012 f.g., 4.8% abv, 34 IBU, 13 SRM
- 60 minute infusion mash, full volume, 152°
- Claremont tap water treated with Campden tablet
- I mashed in with 7.1 gallons of water at 158°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. I added 4mL of 88% lactic acid and held the mash here (with recirculation) for 60 minutes, before raising to 168° for the 10 minute mash-out.
- After removing the grain basket, I had 6.4 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.040. This is only 64% mash efficiency–this spurred me to tighten down the mill from 0.037″ to 0.034″.
- I brought the runnings to a boil, adding malt and finings per the recipe. After the 60 minute boil, I chilled to 78° and transferred to the fermenter. I think let it sit at ambient for a few hours before pitching the yeast at ~69°. Ambient was around 60°, so the beer finished out fermentation at that temperature.
- I brewed the beer on 1 January 2021, and it had a starting gravity of 1.046. I kegged the beer on 31 January 2021, and it had a final gravity of 1.013. This works out to 4.3% abv.
- Deep amber color, brilliantly clear. Persistent and creamy ivory colored head.
- Floral hops and rich bread crust aroma, both very prominent. This is a delicious combo! So good!
- Rich malty flavor of bread crust, and a clean yeast character. There is a slightly floral hop flavor. The beer is moderately bitter, with the balance tilted very slightly to bitter over malty. There is a low level of a cherry/fruity ester.
- Medium body, moderate carbonation, slightly dry finish, but not too much so.
- Would I brew this again?
- YES. This is the best altbier I have ever done, and it is a massive step beyond the previous (also pretty good) version. The malt and hop character are amazing, making an incredibly interesting and very drinkable beer.