Kölsch Simplicitas

I try to do a kölsch-style ale roughly once a year, in part because I like the style, in part because it’s hard to find (in my opinion) truly great commercial examples, and in part because it’s a fun challenge to brew such a fussy beer. I’ve made a few iterations over the years, heading ever simpler with each batch. 2020’s version (Kölsch Minimus) was really elegant in its simplicity, so I modified it slightly for ingredients on-hand and to try a slight variation. Whereas last year’s batch had pilsner and Munich malt, this year I used pilsner and a touch of Carahell. I used the Edelweiss hop blend (instead of Sterling), and brought in the Lallemand Köln Kölsch-style ale yeast instead of K97.

clear, yellow beer with white head, poured into a clear glass, held in a hand

Kölsch Simplicitas

  • 9.25 lb. Viking pilsner malt
  • 0.5 lb. Carahell malt (Weyermann)
  • 1 oz. Edelweiss hop blend (5.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Edelweiss hop blend (5.1% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 0.25 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Edelweiss hop blend (5.1% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Köln Kölsch Style ale yeast (Lallemand)

Target Paremeters

  • 1.047 s.g., 1.009 f.g., 5.0% abv, 4 SRM, 24 IBU
  • Full volume mash, 90 minute mash at 150°, 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Claremont tap water, adjusted with 88% lactic acid to hit target of 28 ppm Ca, 6 ppm Mg, 91 ppm Na, 50 ppm SO4, 85 ppm Cl, 15 ppm HCO3, -11 ppm RA

Procedure

  • I adjusted the tap water with 5.4 mL of 88% lactic acid, to neutralize the carbonates. Then, I heated to 156° and mashed in, to hit a target of 150°. I added 2 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust mash pH. I held the mash at 150° for 90 minutes while recirculating, and then raised the mash to 168° for 10 minutes, before removing the grains.
  • In total, I had 6.4 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.041, for 73% mash 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 64°, before transferring to the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on 8 January 2022. After pitching the yeast, I held the beer at 64° for fermentation.
  • I kegged the beer on 4 March 2022, transferring into a purged keg. The final gravity of the beer was 1.010, for 4.9% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Very clear, just short of brilliant; medium-yellow in color. Pours with a creamy white head–absolutely beautiful and very persistent!
  • Aroma
    • Lightly grainy malt aroma; hop character is fairly minimal now, although in the earlier days of the beer there was a more prominent floral note that has since faded. Yeast character is very clean.
  • Flavor
    • The beer has a very nice, moderately malty flavor, against a moderate level of bitterness. Malt and hops are perfectly in balance. Yeast character is clean, with very slight fruitiness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Crisp finish! Yum. The body is medium-light, and carbonation is moderate.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! This is a nice alternate recipe relative to 2020’s kölsch. My only minor dings are that the hop aroma has faded a bit since initial tastings; I kept this one in the fermenter awhile before kegging, so I think I would be in better shape if I had done the transfer a few weeks earlier. Otherwise, this is a great alternative kölsch to add to my recipe library. I like the Lallemand German ale yeast; it seems to ferment a touch cleaner than K97. I don’t know if I have a strong preference for one or the other, at least in the case of a kölsch. It just brings something different.
  • Overall
    • 8/10

Alstadt Alt 2.0

Altbiers are one of my favorite styles, so I have made a few versions over the years. I had great success with a recipe from the Altbier book by Horst Dornbusch. I first brewed it back in 2020, and it turned out really well. The 2021 edition was similarly great, so I made only minor tweaks for the 2022 brew. Instead of a mix of Briess Caramel Munich 60L and Caramunich I, I went with straight Caramunich I. Additionally, I switched the yeast from K97 to Lallemand’s Kolsch-style ale yeast. Everything else is pretty much the same.

Alstadt Alt 2.0

  • 6.5 lb. Viking Pilsner malt
  • 1.5 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
  • 1.5 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 1 lb. Caramunich I malt (Weyermann)
  • 2 oz. Carafa Special I malt (Weyermann)
  • 1.2 oz. Sterling hop pellets (7.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1.0 oz. Spalt Spalter hop pellets (5.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Köln Kölsch Style Ale Yeast (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.050 s.g., 1.011 f.g., 5.1% abv, 36 IBU, 12 SRM
  • 90 minute infusion mash, full volume, 152°
  • Claremont tap water treated with Campden tablet

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 158°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. I added 3mL of 88% lactic acid and held the mash here (with recirculation) for 90 minutes, before raising to 168° for the 10 minute mash-out. I extended the mash a touch so as to aim for a slightly higher attenuation.
  • After removing the grain basket, I had 6.5 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.044, for an efficiency of 72%.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding malt and finings per the recipe. After the 60 minute boil, I chilled to 68° and transferred to the fermenter. I let it chill a bit more in the fermentation chamber, before pitching the yeast and setting the fermentation temperature to 64°.
  • I brewed the beer on 22 January 2022, and it had a starting gravity of 1.049. I kegged the beer on 14 February 2022, and it had a final gravity of 1.014. This works out to 4.6% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Brilliantly clear beer, of medium-dark amber color, with a fine and persistent ivory colored head.
  • Aroma
    • Rich and malty, with a bread crust character; a low level of spicy hop character is also present.
  • Flavor
    • Malty and bready, with a firm and assertive but not over the top bitterness. There is a very, very slight fruity yeast character.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, moderate carbonation, with a dry finish. Very pleasant.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This one of my favorite recipes! The hop presence isn’t quite as nice this time around, but otherwise it’s a really great beer. It’s very drinkable and very flavorful.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

The Simple Monk

We’re into the season of Lent on the liturgical calendar, often observed through simple food choices or abstinence from dietary pleasures like chocolate and alcohol. Although I won’t go quite so far as to give up beer for the season, I do think it’s worth trying something a bit different for my beer. Along these lines, it seemed appropriate to make a Lenten beer, focused on the principle of simplicity.

I was inspired by the concept of a patersbier, or a low alcohol table beer that might be served at an abbey or monastery. This of course brings associations with Belgian styles, leading me towards a Belgian ale yeast. I was determined to go for simplicity in recipe and process, and so decided to execute a SMaSH recipe. I had some pilsner malt to use up, and chose whole Cascade hops from South Dakota. I also wanted to go lower alcohol, perhaps around 4% or so, to be safely on the session side of things. A hotter mash temperature would keep the result from getting too thin, and I also wanted to keep the hop rate down to avoid being overly bitter. Finally, I aimed to keep the fermentation simple. I would do an open-style fermentation (no airlock), and let it ride at ambient temperature. Finally, instead of force carbonating, I would let the keg condition with corn sugar. It was a fun experiment! I wouldn’t claim this fits any style particularly well — the whole concept is pure fantasy, but that made the brewing even more fun as a creative process.

The Simple Monk

  • 9 lb. Viking pilsner malt
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% estimated alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Abbaye Belgian ale yeast (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.044 o.g., 1.013 f.g., 4.1% abv, 3 SRM, 19 IBU
  • Full volume mash at 154° for 60 minutes
  • Claremont tap water, no adjustment

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7 gallons of water at 159°, to hit a mash rest of 154°. I added 7 mL of 88% lactic acid, and recirculated for 60 minutes before raising the temperature to 168° for 10 minutes.
  • When I pulled the grain basket, I had 6.4 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.039, for 75% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the wort to a boil, adding the hops and boiling for 60 minutes.
  • Once the boil was done, I chilled to 68° and transferred to the fermenter, before pitching the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.043. I brewed the beer on 5 February 2022.
  • In the interest of simplicity, I left the beer to ride at ambient indoors (the garage was going to be a bit too cool). I also tried an open fermentation of sorts–instead of an airlock or blowoff tube, I just put a bit of foil over the outlet of the fermenter.
  • I kegged the beer on 16 February 2022, adding 2.6 oz. of corn sugar boiled in a cup of water. The beer carbonated at room temperature for about two weeks, before I put it into the keezer.
  • Final gravity was 1.014, for 3.8% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Straw colored beer, very hazy, with a thin white head that sticks around only as a thin ring around the margin of the glass.
  • Aroma
    • Spicy yeast character, and a bit of clove aroma. It’s very clearly Belgian, and pretty nice. As the beer warms up, I get a tiny bit of hot alcohol character.
  • Flavor
    • Slightly grainy malt flavor, with low bitterness. Yeast character has a very slight tartness, and a bit of pepper and clove.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium light body, with medium-low carbonation. There is a slight astringency on the finish; it’s not over the top, but a bit noticeable.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This was a super fun experiment. I enjoyed the freedom that the simplicity brought, in not having to really fret over a recipe or over the details of mashing and fermentation. It isn’t the best beer I’ve ever made (the slight astringency is a bit of a ding), but the experience was really enjoyable, and it’s a highly drinkable brew.
  • Overall
    • 7/10

Winter Pils

I am continuing my quest for the perfect German pils, with numerous iterations (see these recent examples) and a continued presence on my Brew Year’s Resolution list. Through various iterations, I am finding that I like a beer in the lower end of the IBU range for the style (around 25 to 30), and a lower mineral water profile.

This new version focused on the Edelweiss hop blend, a really delicious blend of (mostly) US-grown varieties. I decided to do multiple additions, to layer up the flavor and aroma characteristics of the hop. Additionally, I wanted to give Diamond Lager yeast (from Lallemand) a spin…I have primarily used W34/70 up until this point, but have consistently noted a slight tartness that I didn’t really care for. Diamond has been really well regarded, so it’s time to give it a spin!

Winter Pils

  • 10 lb. Viking pilsner malt
  • 0.5 lb. acidulated malt (Weyermann)
  • 6 oz. dextrin malt (Viking)
  • 1 oz. Edelweiss hop blend pellets (5.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Edelweiss hop blend pellets (5.1% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient WLN1000 (White Labs), 15 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Edelweiss hop blend pellets (5.1% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Diamond Lager yeast (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.049 o.g., 1.007 f.g., 5.5% abv, 28 IBU, 4 SRM
  • Water built from RO to hit target of 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 pm SO4, 63 ppm Cl, -47 ppm RA
  • Full volume Hochkurz mash, held at 144° for 45 minutes, 160° for 45 minutes, and 10 minute mash-out at 168°

Procedure

  • I added 2.7 g gypsum, 2.2 g epsom salt, and 3.4 g calcium chloride to 7 gallons of RO water, to hit a target of 59 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 89 pm SO4, 63 ppm Cl, and -47 ppm RA.
  • I mashed in at 150°, to hit a rest temperature of 144°, and held it there for 45 minutes. Then, I raised the mash to 160° (over a period of about 15 minutes), and held it at 160° for 45 minutes. Finally, I raised the mash to 168°, and held it there for 10 minutes before removing the grain basket.
  • In total, I had 6.35 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.047, for 74% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe. After a 60 minute boil, I chilled the wort, transferred to the fermenter, and chilled the rest of the way down to 50°.
  • I brewed the beer on 21 November 2021, and pitched the yeast on 22 November 2021.
  • I fermented the beer at 50° until 24 November 2021, when I let it free rise to 52°. I let the beer free rise to 54° on 28 November, 56° on 1 December, and 60° on 3 December 2021. On 6 December, I began to cycle the beer down to 34° by about 5° per day. I was down to 34° by 9 December 2021.
  • I kegged the beer on 26 December 2021, using a closed transfer into a purged keg. Final gravity was 1.014, for 5.0% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Brilliantly clear and straw-colored, with a white, creamy, and persistent head.
  • Aroma
    • Floral hop aroma, with a crackery sweet malt character. Very clean yeast profile.
  • Flavor
    • Malty sweet, with a moderate and clean bitterness that has a slightly floral quality. The bitterness level is perfect for my taste. It lingers a bit, but isn’t overwhelming as in some previous beers.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium light body and relatively crisp (but not quite perfectly crisp). The finish is off-dry, and carbonation is moderate.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Absolutely! It took awhile to get to “brilliant” (around two months), but the wait was worth it. Bitterness level is right where I want it, and the malt and yeast character are great. Diamond lager yeast is worth the hype…I don’t get the slight tartness I sometimes got on W34/70, which is nice. Going forward, I think a 25 to 28 IBU German pils is about perfect. I’ll probably drop any dextrin or CaraPils malt, to crisp things up a bit, and I’ll also stick with my current water profile.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout 2021

I have made this recipe a million times (okay, more like seven or eight times), and it’s still just so enjoyable. Here’s the latest!

Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout 2021

  • 8.5 lb. Finest Maris Otter Ale Malt (Crisp)
  • 1.5 lb. flaked oats
  • 1 lb. 80° caramel malt (Briess)
  • 1 lb. Victory malt (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb. roasted barley (Briess)
  • 6 oz. chocolate malt (Briess)
  • 6 oz. chocolate malt (Dingemans)
  • 0.5 lb. rice hulls
  • 1 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Nottingham ale yeast (Lallemand)

Parameters

  • 1.059 o.g., 1.017 f.g., 5.6% abv, 34 IBU, 35 SRM
  • Full volume mash, no sparge, 156° mash for 60 minutes, 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Claremont tap water, treated with Campden tablet

Procedure

  • I heated ~7.5 gallons to 164°, and then mashed in to hit a target mash rest of 156°. I added 5 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust pH.
  • I held the mash at 156° for 60 minutes, and then raised it to 168°. I held it at this temperature for 10 minutes, and then pulled the grains.
  • In total, I collected 6.4 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.048. This was a bit below my target (1.052).
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, and boiled for 15 minutes before adding the hops. I then proceeded with an additional 60 minutes on the boil, before turning off the heat and

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • A black, clear beer, with a somewhat persistent tan head. The beer is a very dark brown when viewed on edge.
  • Aroma
    • Earthy aroma, with coffee and chocolate and roasted malt. There is a faint dried dark stonefruit aroma.
  • Flavor
    • Medium-high bitterness, and a coffee/chocolate, exceptionally malty flavor. This is a wonderfully rich beer! The yeast character is pretty clean, with a very faint fruitiness. There is an earthy background, perhaps from the hops.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Very full bodied, with a somewhat slick mouthfeel as would be expected from an oatmeal stout. It is very smooth, with a slightly dry finish.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • It’s interesting that I pick up earthy characteristics in the aroma, given that there is only a single hop addition as a 60 minute bittering charge of Magnum. That must be produced by the malt combination, but I can’t figure out whre.
  • Overall
    • 10/10