Dunkel-Osteus

This is another rebrew of another favorite recipe. I seem to be doing this a lot lately! My Munich Dunkel is a wonderfully drinkable dark lager, and this year’s version was no exception.

Dunkel-Osteus

  • 10 lb. Munich II malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.5 lb. Carafa Special II malt (Weyermann)
  • 6 oz. melanoidin malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.5 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. W34/70 yeast (Fermentis)

Target Parameters

  • 1.050 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 5.1% abv, 24 IBU, 23 SRM
  • 60 minute full volume mash at 152°, with mash-out at 168°
  • Claremont tap water

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 158°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. I held it here, with recirculation, for 60 minutes. Then, I raised the temperature to 168° for 10 minutes, before removing the grains and bringing the kettle to a boil.
  • In total, I collected 6.25 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.043, for 66% mash efficiency.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and finings per the recipe.
  • After the boil, I chilled, transferred, and chilled down to 50° before pitching the yeast. I let the beer free rise to 52° for fermentation.
  • I brewed this beer on 8 May 2021. Starting gravity was 1.048.
  • I let the beer free rise to 60° on 24 May, and then cold crashed to 33° on 26 May 2021.
  • I kegged the beer on 29 May 2021, and it had a gravity of 1.017, for 4.0% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • The beer is brilliantly clear, and pours with a persistent, creamy, and tan head. The color of the beer itself is deep brown, with deep ruby highlights when viewed on edge.
  • Aroma
    • The aroma is toasty and chocolatey, with a clean character.
  • Flavor
    • Amazing! A chocolate character is prominent, with a deep toasted, malty, bread crust character to the malt. The malt aspect is rich, yet not overwhelming. Bitterness is moderate, making this a very drinkable beer.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, smooth finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! This is one of my very favorite recipes…such a good dark lager!
  • Overall
    • 10/10

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

Clonal Common 2021

I like a good steam beer (a.k.a. California common) every once in awhile, and I last made a batch back in 2015. I hadn’t thought it was that long ago, but my notes don’t lie! This year’s version was largely the same recipe, but made with the base malts and caramel malts I had on hand. As before, this batch parallels recipes from BYO and Zymurgy, with only the most minor modifications.

Clonal Common 2021

  • 9.5 lb. Viking 2-row Xtra pale malt
  • 1 lb. Viking caramel 100 (crystal 40 equivalent)
  • 0.5 lb. special roast malt (Briess)
  • 1.15 oz. Northern Brewer hop pellets (7.3% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.85 oz. Northern Brewer hop pellets (7.3% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
  • 1 pkg. San Francisco Lager yeast (WLP810), prepared in 1L vitality starter

Target Parameters

  • 1.049 s.g., 1.015 f.g., 4.5% abv, 34 IBU, 9 SRM
  • Claremont tap water, treated with Campden tablet to remove chlorine
  • Full volume infusion mash at 152°, 60 minutes

Procedure

  • On the morning of my brew session, I made a 1L vitality starter to kick-start the yeast.
  • I heated 7.25 gallons of water up to 158°, to hit a 152° mash temperature target. I held it here for 60 minutes, before raising to and holding at 168° for 10 minutes. I added a bit of 88% lactic acid to the mash, to adjust pH.
  • I removed the grain basket, and noted 6.5 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.045, for 72% mash efficiency.
  • Next, I brought the runnings to a boil, boiling for 60 minutes and adding the hops and kettle finings per the recipe. At the end of this, I turned off the heat and whirlpooled (with circulation) for 10 minutes with the whirlpool hop addition.
  • I chilled the wort, transferred it to the fermenter, and then chilled it down to 60° in the fermentation chamber before pitching the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 24 April 2021, and fermented at 60° for the first week. I pulled it out to finish up at ambient on 1 May 2021, and it looked like fermentation was pretty much done by this point.
  • I kegged the beer on 9 May 2021. It had a final gravity of 1.015, for 4.6% abv. I hit my numbers pretty well for this batch!

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Deep gold/light amber color, and very clear, approaching brilliant. The beer pours with a creamy ivory head that is quite persistent. Overall, though, this batch is just a touch lighter in coor than is appropriate by the BJCP style guide.
  • Aroma
    • The beer has a light caramel aroma, with a slight “woody” hop character as appropriate for this style.
  • Flavor
    • This has a moderately high level of bitterness and a nice woody character to the hop flavor. This one tastes moderately malty with a light caramel note and a slight bit of toastiness. Yeast character is very clean. Overall, this one tilts towards bitterness rather than maltiness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-light body and moderate level of carbonation, with a clean, off-dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Overall, this is a pretty nice California Common! There’s not much to say otherwise; I think the overall recipe is pretty well locked in. If I wanted to be a stickler for BJCP guidelines, I should adjust the color slightly with a bit of Carafa Special III or something like that. I also wouldn’t mind a tiny hint of fruitiness in the yeast character, and thus might try fermenting at a slightly higher temperature next time. All that aside, I’m pleased with this one!
  • Overall
    • 8.5/10

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

Historical(ish) Vienna Lager

I’ve been working my way through the excellent Vienna Lager book by Andreas Krennmair, which presents a fresh, historically grounded account of the development of this classic style. It’s a relatively short, highly readable piece of work, and of course it has some recipes in the back. Although we can’t directly reproduce historical beers–so much has changed with ingredients and procedures–we can create an approximate copy fairly readily.

My recipe is pretty similar to that presented by Krennmair, although I made some modifications for ingredients and process. The original recipe (p. 144 in his book) uses a double decoction and 90 minute boil, along with WLP820 (Oktoberfest/Marzen yeast). I converted to a batch sparge, to streamline the brew day, and also raised the mash temperature a fair bit. The original recipe claimed a final gravity of 1.018, and I really have no idea how one could reach such a high final gravity, even with the hotter decoction rests. The main mash sat around 149° in Krennmair’s version, and the math (and enzyme chemistry) don’t work out for me. So, I raised the mash temperature in my batch to target 156°.

The recipe from Krennmair has many parallels with “Nothing But Vienna” by Gordon Strong, which I brewed some time ago (as “Decoction Envy Vienna Lager“, and it turned out pretty well!). Strong’s recipe is also just Vienna malt, with Sterling instead of Saaz. I did that last batch as a decoction, but decided to be a bit lazy this time around. I’ve tried decoction mashes, and they’re fun every once in awhile, but too much bother sometimes. Batch sparge all the way for this brew!

Historical(ish) Vienna Lager

  • 11 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 1.5 oz. Saaz hop pellets (5.3% alpha), first wort hop, 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. W34/70 lager yeast (Saflager)

Target Parameters

  • 1.051 s.g., 1.014 f.g., 4.8% abv, 5 SRM, 28 IBU
  • Infusion mash, 156°, batch sparge; 60 minute boil
  • Claremont water, with Campden tablet to remove chloramines, lactic acid to neutralize carbonates, adjusted to target water profile of 50 Ca, 30 Mg, 81 Na, 68 SO4, 90 Cl, 30 HCO3, 25 ppm alkalinity, 53 ppm effective hardness, -29 RA.

Procedure

  • The night before brewing, I took 9 gallons of hot tap water and added 7.5 mL of 88% lactic acid, to neutralize the carbonate load.
  • On brew day, I mashed in with 3.75 gallons of water at 166°, to aim for 156° mash temperature. I added 7 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the mash pH. I hit 157°, which was down to ~153° after 45 minutes.
  • After 50 minutes, I added 1.5 gallons of water at 200°, to raise the mash temperature to 168°. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. I added the hops to the kettle at this point.
  • Next, I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.6 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.042, for 77% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding 2 g of gypsum at this time. During the 60 minute boil, I added finings per the recipe.
  • Next, I chilled to ~84°, let it settle for 45 minutes, and transferred to the fermenter. I moved this into the fermentation chamber, and let it chill down to 54° before pitching the yeast. This was about 8 hours after flameout.
  • I brewed this beer on 22 August 2020. Starting gravity was 1.050, pretty darned close to my target.
  • I started fermentation at 54°, and raised the temperature to 56° on 31 August, 58° on 2 September, and hit 60° on 4 September 2020. I held at this temperature for 12 hours, before starting the trend back down. It was at 57° on 5 September, 50° on 6 September, 45° on 7 September, 40° on 8 September, and 35° on 9 September. The final step was down to 32° on 10 September, and I held it there until kegging on 27 September 2020.
  • At the time of kegging, the beer had a really nice flavor but still a fair bit of haze. I did a semi-closed transfer, straight out of the fermenter into a CO2-purged keg.
  • Final gravity was 1.015, for 4.6% abv. I lagered in the keg for about a month at 33°, before it went on tap.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Brilliantly clear, gold colored beer, with persistent white head. It looks really nice in the glass!
  • Aroma
    • Malty, fresh bread aroma, with no hop character.
  • Flavor
    • Malt forward flavor, with a bready quality to it. Bitterness is fairly strong too, maybe a little more than I would really like for this beer. There is not a lot of character to the bitterness, beyond a slight spicy quality.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, off-dry finish, with moderate carbonation.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a pretty decent recipe, but nothing exceptional. For whatever reason, the hop level comes across as a bit more than I really care for, and is almost a bit harsh at times. I blame the gypsum addition for that. I think trying to increase the sulfate level was a bit of a mistake, even if it brought the water closer to what it “should” be for Vienna water. I feel like a yeast that accentuates malt character a bit more would be do some good here, and perhaps a slight reduction in the hop level, too, as well as a minor amount of melanoidin malt. As far as lager character, it’s clear and cleanly fermented, and the reduced oxygen transfer has paid off with a super fresh taste even after nearly two months in the keg. Minor flaws aside, this is still a pretty easy drinking beer!
  • Overall
    • 6/10