Dimorphos Kellerbier

I’m still working my way through the world of German beer, and there is no shortage of varieties to try. Although kellerbier isn’t necessarily a discrete style (just being vaguely young lager), I wanted to give it a go. I also wanted to use up some ingredients. How convenient!

I aimed for an amber kellerbier, with a rich and malty character. I had some Munich malt to finish, as well as Vienna malt. A little bit of melanoidin (Great Western’s Mela malt, in this case) went in to raise the maltiness bar, and I used some Carafa Special II for color adjustment. Spalt hops are apparently somewhat traditional; I had a little bit to use up, so in they went too.

The name of “Dimorphos Kellerbier” is after the smaller member of the 65803 Didymos asteroid system. Coincidentally, it’s also part of the root for the pterosaur Dimorphodon, which appealed to my paleontological side. In any case, Dimorphos is the planned target for the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission, in which the orbit of the asteroid will be changed very slightly through impact by a satellite. It’s testing technology that may be used to save Earth from an asteroid impact someday, which I can definitely support as a paleontologist. The mission launched on November 24, and I was just a few miles from the launchpad to see the satellite head into the great beyond. It was a pretty incredible experience, and one worth commemorating with a beer batch!

The DART mission on its way to its rendevous with Dimorphos and Didymos, during its launch with a Falcon 9 rocket on November 24, 2022. The ring represents clouds pushed aside by the shock wave of the rocket’s passage; the rocket itself is the bright object in the middle of the photo, with the exhaust plume to the left of the image.

For many of my beers, I write up the tasting notes after a few weeks on tap. This gives the beer chance to mature, and allows me to figure out the character of the beer. This time, I wrote up the tasting on my very first glass out of the keg. Because the style is supposed to be served young, I figured I didn’t gain anything by waiting. It also gave me a chance to provide first impressions, before I’ve had a chance to talk myself into a particular opinion about the beer.

Dimorphos Kellerbier

  • 5 lb. 1 oz. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 3 lb. 12 oz. pilsner malt (Viking)
  • 15 oz. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
  • 4 oz. Mela malt (Great Western)
  • 2 oz. Carafa Special II malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.5 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.1% alpha), first wort hop and 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Spalt hop pellets (3.0% alpha), 20 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Spalt hop pellets (3.0% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Diamond lager dry yeast (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.049 o.g., 1.007 f.g., 5.5% abv, 28 IBU, 10 SRM
  • Full volume Hochkurz mash, held at 144° for 45 minutes, 160° for 45 minutes, and 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Claremont tap water

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7 gallons of water at 149°, adding 6 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the pH. This hit an initial rest temperature of 144°, which I held for 45 minutes with recirculation.
  • Next, I raised the mash (while recirculating) to 160°, and held it here for 45 minutes.
  • Finally, I raised the mash temperature to 168°, and held it there for 10 minutes before removing the grain basket.
  • In total, I collected 6.4 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.045, for 77% mash efficiency. The Hochkurz mash protocol seems to do well for efficiency!
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe.
  • After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the heat and chilled to 70°, before transferring to the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on 22 November 2021, and let it sit overnight in the fermentation chamber to get down to my target temperature of 50°. I pitched the yeast on the morning of 23 November 2021.
  • Starting gravity was 1.050.
  • I raised the fermenter to 52° on 24 November 2021, to 54° on 28 November 2021, 56° on 1 December 2021, and let it free rise to 60° on 3 December 2021.
  • On 6 December 2021, I started to cycle down the temperature, lowering it by 5° to 10° daily (sometimes dropping 5° in the morning and 5° in the evening). It was down to 34° on 9 December.
  • I kegged the beer on 11 December 2021, and force carbonated it.
  • Final gravity was 1.013, which equates to 4.9% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Deep copper beer with a slight haze; very persistent ivory head
  • Aroma
    • Bready, malty aroma with a slight bread crust character and a slight spicy hop character. Yeast character is very clean.
  • Flavor
    • Rich and very pleasant maltiness. Moderate bitterness with a spicy, slightly herbal quality. Clean yeast character.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, medium-low carbonation. Smooth, very slightly dry finish with extended bitterness.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • Yes! This is like tearing off a piece of warm, crusty bread pulled straight from the oven, and popping it into your mouth. There is so much awesome malt character, and the yeast quality is super clean. This is a perfect winter lager!
  • Overall
    • 10/10

Farke’s Best Pils

My dad has a few hop bines on the farm in South Dakota, and usually has a fair bit of Cascade that he sends my way (see my recent pale ale). This year, I also managed to snag some South Dakota-grown versions of Saaz, Hallertauer, and Sterling, so a German pilsner seemed like an awesome use of them. I went with a super simple grist, and loaded up most of the hops towards the end in a hope to elevate relative flavor and aroma. I had to guess on alpha acid levels, so aimed a bit higher in estimated IBU in the presumption that they would be a bit lower in potential bitterness than is typical for the varieties.

Farke’s Best Pils

  • 10 lb. Viking Pilsner malt
  • 1 oz. Sterling whole hops (est. 7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer whole hops (est. 4.8% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Saaz whole hops (est. 5.3% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (WLN1000), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Saflager lager yeast (W34/70)

Target Parameters

pale yellow beer with white foam held aloft in tall clear glass
  • 1.046 o.g., 1.009 f.g., 4.9% abv, 32 IBU, 4 SRM
  • Full volume mash at 149° for 60 minutes, with 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Water built up from RO water, to hit target of 59 Ca, 8 Mg, 89 SO4, 63 ppm Cl, RA=-47

Procedure

  • I added 2.8 g gypsum, 2.3 g epsom salt, and 3.6 g CaCl in 7.25 gallons of water to hit a profile of 59 Ca, 8 Mg, 89 SO4, and 63 ppm Cl, with RA=-47.
  • I heated the water to 154° and mashed in to hit a temperature of 149°. At this point, I added 0.7 mL (approximately) of 88% lactic acid, to hit the target mash pH of 5.3 to 5.4.
  • I mashed at 149° for 60 minutes (with recirculation), before raising the temperature to 168° and holding it there for 10 minutes.
  • After the mash, I removed the grains. In total, I collected 6.5 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.041, for 70% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I chilled to 78°, let settle for 90 minutes, and then transferred to the fermenter. I chilled it down the rest of the way to 50° in the fermentation chamber, before pitching the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.046. I brewed the beer on 18 September 2021.
  • After starting fermentation at 50° on 18 September 2021, there were active signs of bubbling by 20 September 2021. I raised the temperature to 53° on that day, and then up to 56° on 22 September 2021, and 60° on 30 September. I dropped it to 55° on 3 October, 50° on 4 October, 45° on 5 October, 40° on 6 October, 35° on 7 October, and to 32° on 9 October.
  • I kegged the beer on 11 October 2021. There was a gorgeous and delicate malt flavor at that time, with a really nice floral hop character, and moderately low level of bitterness. This was shaping up to be a nice beer!
  • Final gravity was 1.010, for 4.7% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Light yellow, very clear (nearly brilliant), with a fairly persistent white head
  • Aroma
    • Delicate malt aroma with a grainy character and light honey-sweet quality. A very low floral hop aroma. Very nice and clean fermentation character!
  • Flavor
    • Light malty character, slightly sweet, with a clean fermentation character. The bitterness is clean and moderate, but not overly so. There is a nice balance between hops and malt!
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body and moderate carbonation, with an off-dry finish.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • The malt aroma is amazing, but I wish there was a little more hop aroma alongside that in the final product. The bitterness level is perfect, and it dodges some of the issues I have had with overbittering in past recipes. The body could be a touch lighter. That said, I’m very happy with how clean the fermentation turned out, and the water character is great, too! Overall, this is not an amazing beer, but still a pretty good one.
  • Overall
    • 7/10

Mow the Damn Lawn, Farke

I brewed this American lager recipe last summer, and thought I’d give it another go to close out the warm months here. The 2021 version is nearly identical, just with a small hop swap as well as water built (mostly) from scratch.

Mow the Damn Lawn, Farke

  • 8.5 lb. 2-row malt (Great Western, California Select)
  • 2 lb. flaked rice
  • 4 oz. rice hulls
  • 0.6 oz. Vanguard hop pellets (6.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (WLN1000), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Saflager Lager Yeast (W34/70)

Target Parameters

  • 1.046 s.g., 1.008 f.g., 5.0% abv, 14 IBU, 4 SRM
  • 148° full volume infusion mash, 75 minutes, with 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Water built from 6 gallons RO and 1.5 gallons Claremont tap water, to produce a water of 7 ppm Ca, 2 ppm Mg, 19 ppm Na, 10 ppm sulfate, 21 ppm Cl, 31 ppm bicarbonate, 26 ppm alkalinity; 19 ppm RA

Procedure

hand holding willi becher glass of yellow beer with white head
  • The night before brewing, I set in the water by mixing 1.5 gallon of tap water with 6 gallons of RO water and a quarter of a Campden tablet, to that it would all be ready to go in the morning.
  • I heated the strike water to 153°, and hit a mash temperature of 148°. I recirculated at this temperature for 75 minutes, noting that the top of the mash read at 147.5°; I was pretty happy with this.
  • After the mash, I heated to 168° for 10 minutes, and then pulled out the grain basket.
  • In total, I had 6.75 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.038, for 68% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, boiling for 30 minutes before adding the hops, in order to bring the gravity up a bit. Then, I boiled for another 60 minutes while adding hops and finings per the recipe.
  • After the full 90 minute boil, I chilled the wort to 75°, and transferred to the fermenter for the final chill to 48° in the fermentation chamber. Finally, I pitched the yeast directly and let it free rise to 52°.
  • I brewed the beer on 19 June 2021, fermenting at 52°. Starting gravity was 1.044.
  • I cold crashed the beer on 10 July 2021, and kegged it on 14 August 2021.
  • Final gravity was 1.009, which works out to 4.6% abv.
  • The beer was surprisingly hazy at the time of kegging, especially after over a month of lagering.
  • I tasted the beer on 17 August 2021, and it was an acetaldehyde bomb. Ugh. This was a surprise to me, because it had plenty of time to clean up (two months since brewing). I’m not sure why this was; maybe it hadn’t actually cleaned up because I skipped a diacetyl rest? I’ve gotten away without it before, though, and as mentioned it sat on the yeast for plenty of time. My other thought is that maybe if the airlock dried out a bit, this introduced some oxygen and created more acetaldehyde. In any case, I pulled the beer out to room temperature (~75°), and let it sit there for a few days, with occasional keg purges to outgas any unpleasantness, before re-chilling. It still had a decent bit of green apple when I tasted a week later, but it was much improved. After two more weeks, any acetaldehyde had faded to virtually nothing. In any case, a slight green apple quality is acceptable in the American lager style, so let’s just pretend that I meant to do this.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Very clear, nearly brilliantly so, with a light yellow color. It pours with a creamy and tall white head that subsides to a modestly persistent thin rim.
  • Aroma
    • Light malty sweetness with a very very slight green apple character (virtually imperceptible), and a crisp, faint hop spice note
  • Flavor
    • Low level of maltiness and light sweetness, and a moderately low and clean bitterness. As with the aroma, there is a very faint green apple character, which has faded considerably since the early days on tap. It is a very drinkable beer.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Light body, moderate carbonation, and slightly dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a pretty good beer, which is fun as an experiment to see if I can pull off a light, high-adjunct beer. It’s certainly quite drinkable in decent quantity during a hot day, so I’ve hit that goal quite well. It’s not the most exciting beer ever, but then again that’s not what I was aiming for. I’m a bit disappointed by the heavy acetaldehyde in initial servings, and I don’t quite know what led to that. I suspect it was a combination of things, and will likely do a higher temperature fermentation rest on future batches.
  • Overall
    • 6.5/10

Schell’s Pilsner Clone 2021

I brew this recipe from time to time, and have enjoyed it pretty well so far. It’s a nice German pils to have around, and has a wonderfully simple approach. This year’s edition is generally the same as in past years, although I used all-Sterling as the hop, rather than a mix of Mt. Hood and Sterling, and I have a different brand of base malt.

Schell’s Pils Clone

Schell’s Pilsner Clone 2021

  • 11 lb. Viking 2-row Xtra Pale Malt
  • 0.25 lb. Carapils (Briess)
  • 0.75 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 20 minute boil
  • 1 g BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1.3 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. German Lager yeast (WLP830), in 2L starter
  • 1.25 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.4% alpha), 3 day dry hop

Target Parameters

  • 1.050 o.g., 1.006 f.g., 5.9% abv, 35 IBU, 4 SRM
  • 60 minute full volume mash, with 40 minutes at 144° and 10 minutes at 158°
  • Claremont tap water

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.3 gallons of water at 150°, adding 7 mL of 88% lactic acid, and recirculated at a mash temperature of 144° for 40 minutes.
  • Next, I raised the mash temperature to 158°, holding it there for 10 minutes.
  • Finally, I raised the mash to 168° for 10 minutes, before removing the grains.
  • In total, I collected 6.4 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.044, for 68% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled, transferred, and finished chilling to 48°. I oxygenated with pure O2 for 40 seconds before pitching the yeast.
  • I started with ~5.25 gallons of beer in the fermenter and an original gravity of 1.050.
  • I brewed the beer on 1 May 2021.
  • I began fermentation at 50°, and raised the temperature to 52° on 8 May 2021. I raised the temperature to 60° on 26 May 2021, and cold crashed on 26 May 2021. My fermentation chamber broke(!) on 1 June 2021, so the beer was at ~65° for around 24 hours. I got it back cold on 2 June 2021, and added the dry hops on 5 June 2021.
  • I kegged the beer on 12 June 2021, adding 1 tsp. of gelatin heated to 156° in 3/4 cup of water.
  • Final gravity was 1.010, which works out to 5.2% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • This is a light gold/yellow beer that pours brilliantly clear, with a persistent creamy head.
  • Aroma
    • The beer has a light, spicy hop note, and a crackery malt note.
  • Flavor
    • It has a prominent bitterness, with a crisp and clean hop character. The bitterness is a bit over the top, and the water has a mineral-type (almost salty) character. Paired with the right food it does OK, but it is a bit too bitter on its own. The malt is light and crackery; very simple, but nice. Yeast profile is quite clean.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, slightly dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes, but next time I’m going to do better on the water profile. I think using tap water was a mistake here, especially without more adjustments to knock out carbonates, etc. The bitterness is just too much, which is unfortunate! In going back through my notes, all past iterations have built up from RO water, and I think I’ll do that again next time. Everything else works pretty well, and I suppose the bitterness is within the upper bounds of a German pils, so I can’t ding it too much. I might also try going back to the Mt. Hood+Sterling hop combo, just to give it a touch more interest in the hops.
  • Overall
    • 6/10

Twisted Schwarzbier

I have brewed schwarzbier once before, and it came out pretty good. I wanted to revisit the style as a warmer-weather dark beer, and so picked out a second recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. This version differed from the last in that it emphasizes pilsner malt more than Munich.

I am contractually obligated to use Space Balls references in any schwarzbier name, with zero apologies from doing so. Thank you.

Twisted Schwarzbier

  • 9 lb. Viking Pilsner Zero malt
  • 1 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
  • 11 oz. Carafa Special II malt (Weyermann)
  • 1 oz. Vanguard hop pellets (6.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Mt. Hood hop pellets (4.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • Repitch of Harvest lager yeast (Imperial L17)

Target Parameters

  • 1.049 o.g., 1.013 f.g., 4.7% abv, 30 IBU, 24 SRM
  • 60 minute infusion mash at 152°, full volume
  • Claremont tap water, treated with Campden tablet

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of water at 158°, to hit my mash target of 152°. After adding 5 mL of 88% lactic acid, I held the mash at 152°, with recirculation, for 60 minutes. I then raised the mash to 168°.
  • After the mash, I removed the grain basket and collected 6.75 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.041, for 69% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the wort to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled it down to 70°, before transferring to the fermenter and chilling down to 52° in the fermentation chamber.
  • After the wort hit fermentation temperature, I oxygenated with 30 seconds of pure O2, and then pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 6 February 2021. It had a starting gravity of 1.048.
  • I started fermentation at 52°, held it here for three days, raised to 54° for three days, and then finished at 56° for three days, before cold crashing.
  • I kegged the beer on 27 February 2021. Final gravity was 1.014, for 4.5% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Brilliantly clear, deep brown beer, pouring with a persistent tan head.
  • Aroma
    • Roasty and coffee aroma, at a moderately high level.
  • Flavor
    • Roasty malt and coffee flavor, with a bready malt character in the background. Moderately high level of bitterness. Clean yeast character. Extended bitterness on the finish.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Perhaps? It’s a good, clean beer, but if feels like I could dial back the roast/coffee character a touch and move the base malts (especially the Munich) more to the forefront. I think if I were to rebrew this, I would add a bit more Munich, or maybe add in some Vienna, and reduce the percentage of pilsner malt. That said, this beer is very drinkable, so I wouldn’t make it too heavy for the base malts. Based on the BJCP written descriptions, it seems to be a great example of the schwarzbier style, but just isn’t to my taste.
  • Overall
    • 9/10