This time around, I followed the Bamberger Hofbräu® Schwarzbier recipe from the Dark Lagers book by Kraus-Weyermann and Dornbusch (you can also download a version on the Weyermann website). In terms of the grist, it’s probably closest to my Twisted Schwarzbier recipe, in that it uses primarily pilsner malt. However, rather than using just dark grains to produce the color, some Sinamar provides the final color adjustment. I have never used Sinamar before, so I was happy to have an excuse to explore this ingredient. My hop selection is very different from the original recipe (Magnum+Vanguard, vs. Perle+Spalter), but I am okay with that.
No Spaceballs jokes this time.
Bamberger Hofbrau Schwarzbier
9 lb. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
1 lb. Munich II malt (Weyermann)
0.5 lb. Carafa Special III malt (Weyermann)
0.5 lb. Carapils malt malt (Briess)
3 oz. acidulate malt (Weyermann)
0.9 oz. (25.3 g) Sinamar extract (Weyermann), added at end of boil
0.3 oz. Magnum hop pellets (16.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 oz. Vanguard hop pellets (6.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
2 pkg. Diamond lager yeast (Lallemand)
1.050 s.g., 1.011 f.g., 5.2% abv, 26 IBU, 21 SRM
Claremont tap water, with Campden tablet to remove chloramines
Full volume mash at 149° for 60 minutes and 10 minute mash-out at 168°
I mashed in with 7 gallons of water at 155°, to hit 149°. I recirculated and held it at this temperature for 60 minutes, and then raised the mash to 168° for 10 minutes, before pulling the grains.
In total, I collected 6.1 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.045, for 68% 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 down to 70° before transferring it to the fermenter. I chilled down to 49° in my fermentation chamber, before pitching the yeast.
I brewed this beer on 31 December 2022, fermenting at 50°. Starting gravity was 1.051.
I pulled the beer to garage ambient temperatures (55° to 60°) after 1 week.
I kegged the beer on 20 February 2023. Final gravity was 1.014, for 72% attenuation and 4.9% abv.
Deep, deep brown in appearance with a tan head; when you shine a light through it, it is very clear and dark brown with a reddish cast. The head is persistent, but not particularly fluffy.
Malty, with a slight hint of dark chocolate.
Rounded and bready yet highly drinkable maltiness, with a dark chocolate aspect. Yeast character is clean. Moderate bitterness that balances well against the malt.
Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, smooth and very slightly dry finish.
Would I Brew This Again?
This is a really nice dark lager. It hits some nice malty notes, without being cloying or burnt-roasty. A little more head retention would be nice (hence my lower score), but even so I’m quite happy with this beer.
I am loving the challenge of brewing lagers, lagers, and more lagers! It seems like there is always a new style to make, and the process has opened me up to a spectrum of flavors I haven’t experienced in the abundant craft beers from my area.
Most of my lagers to this point have sat at the pale end, with a few forays into amber. A few years back I did a schwarzbier, and I’ve done a Munich dunkeltwice, and that’s been about it for dark lagers. Sounds like it’s time to get to work! I like to have a darker beer on hand most of the time, and that space is usually filled by a porter or stout. A Czech-style dark lager seemed like a good candidate for my next brew.
The recipe is based primarily off of that in Modern Homebrew Recipes, by Gordon Strong. I increased the amount of dark Munich malt slightly, partly to increase the maltiness and partly to use up ingredients on-hand. I adjusted the dark specialty malts a touch, to adjust for ingredient availability at my LHBS. I elected to do a step infusion mash, rather than decoction, just for simplicity.
Czech-Style Dark Lager
6 lbs. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
2 lb. Munich malt (Bestmalz, 7.6 SRM)
1.5 lb. Viking Munich Dark Malt (11.2 SRM)
0.5 lb. Caramunich I (Weyermann), added at vorlauf
5.5 oz. Carafa Special II (Weyermann), added at vorlauf
2.5 oz. Carafa Special III (Weyermann), added at vorlauf
3 oz. Saaz hop pellets (2.4% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 tsp. Fermax, 10 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
1 oz. Saaz hop pellets (2.4% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool
German lager yeast (WLP830, White Labs), ~130 mL repitched from slurry harvested from Crystal Pilsner
75 minute infusion step mash, 15 minutes at 131°, 30 minutes at 147°, 30 minutes at 158°, batch sparge
1.048 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 4.8% abv, 26 IBU, 21 SRM
8.75 gallons of RO water with 3.4 g of CaCl, to hit 28 ppm Ca and 50 ppm Cl.
I mashed in with 2 gallons of water at 149° and 3.25 mL of 88% lactic acid, stirring like crazy to drop down to a protein rest of 134°. This was a little above my target of 131°, but I figured this was okay.
After 15 minutes, I added 5 quarts of 180° water, to hit between 146° and 148°, depending on where I measured and how I stirred.
After 30 minutes, I added the remainder of the mash water (~6 quarts) at 185°, to bring the mash up to 154°. This was a touch lower than my goal of 158°, but I’m OK with it. I let this sit for 30 minutes, and in the last 5 minutes added the dark grains (CaraMunich, Carafa Special II and III).
I vorlaufed, drained the mash tun, and then added 3.58 gallons of water at 185°. I let this rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
In total, I collected 7.15 gallons of water at a gravity of 1.040, for 73% efficiency. I brought the kettle to a boil, adding finings and hops per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled.
After chilling down to 70°, I transferred the wort into the fermenter and continued the chill down to 52°. I oxygenated and pitched ~130 mL of harvested yeast slurry (from my Crystal Pils, around 1 week old).
Starting gravity was 1.048. I brewed this beer on 1 February 2020.
Fermentation temperatures were held between 52° and 54°. On 9 February, I moved the fermenter to ambient (~60°), to finish out fermentation.
I kegged the beer on 22 February 2020. Final gravity was 1.012, to reach 4.8% abv.
This beer pours with a creamy, persistent, tall tan head. In the glass, it has a very deep amber, almost reddish brown color, and is brilliantly clear. The reddish tinge makes for a really pretty beer.
Amazing. Crisp, spice-infused aroma, with bready notes behind that. This beer smell delicious!
Malty, crusty breadiness, with a slight roasted, coffee-like note behind that. The flavors combine to produce a slight, dark dry fruitiness on the tongue that doesn’t show up in the aroma. It’s not fruitiness in the same way as a warm fermentation or the wrong yeast strain; it’s like the fruitiness you get in some roasts of coffee. It’s unexpected…and apparently within style, according to the 2015 BJCP. The bitterness level is fairly low, but perceptible. The hopping comes across as a smooth, extended bitterness that persists after the malt fades away on the tongue, so the balance is very slightly tilted towards the hops (but not overly so).
The body is a touch lighter than I expected; I expected something more towards the medium-body, but it’s medium-light at best. I think the beer is slightly overcarbonated, but that should hopefully subside with time.
Would I brew this again?
Yes? This is a super interesting beer, and definitely a flavor space that I’ve not tasted before. It’s growing on me, and I think I’ll enjoy it plenty as I finish up the keg. However, there is a bit of a clash between the roastiness and fruitiness, which detracts slightly from enjoyability. So, it’s not a bad beer, just maybe not to my taste. If I brew this style again, I will choose a different recipe, maybe one with less roastiness to it. As I read about the style from the BJCP guidelines, apparently a pilsner malt base is more typical, so I might reformulate with a very different grist. All that said, this beer looks really great in a big pint mug!