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.
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)
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
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.
Very clear, just short of brilliant; medium-yellow in color. Pours with a creamy white head–absolutely beautiful and very persistent!
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
Brilliantly clear beer, of medium-dark amber color, with a fine and persistent ivory colored head.
Rich and malty, with a bread crust character; a low level of spicy hop character is also present.
Malty and bready, with a firm and assertive but not over the top bitterness. There is a very, very slight fruity yeast character.
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.
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.
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.
Straw colored beer, very hazy, with a thin white head that sticks around only as a thin ring around the margin of the glass.
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.
Slightly grainy malt flavor, with low bitterness. Yeast character has a very slight tartness, and a bit of pepper and clove.
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.
I am continuing my quest for the perfect German pils, with numerous iterations (see theserecentexamples) 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!
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
0.75 oz. Edelweiss hop blend pellets (5.1% alpha), 5 minute boil
2 pkg. Diamond Lager yeast (Lallemand)
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°
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.
Brilliantly clear and straw-colored, with a white, creamy, and persistent head.
Floral hop aroma, with a crackery sweet malt character. Very clean yeast profile.
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.
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.
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)
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
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
A black, clear beer, with a somewhat persistent tan head. The beer is a very dark brown when viewed on edge.
Earthy aroma, with coffee and chocolate and roasted malt. There is a faint dried dark stonefruit aroma.
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.
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.