Sunday, December 30, 2012

California Hersbrucker

This entry was originally posted as "Random German Ale" on December 30, 2012.  I'm leaving the original post intact, but below that you will find an addendum where I give the results.

Original post:

Just a short entry for today, as I wanted to write down this recipe that I concocted before I forgot all about it.  Of course, if it turns out to be crap, then I'll be glad to forget it.

I've been noticing something lately, and that something is that it's getting kind of cold.  Ever since Kirsti and I moved into our new place, I've been keeping my fermenter in the garage instead of an inside closet.  This is not a problem in the summer because I have it in a mini refrigerator, and I can make sure that it doesn't get too warm.  However, there is no "hot" setting on the fridge, so when it gets really cold, there's not much I can do about it save buying a bunch of stuff.

I figured that what I needed was to ferment a beer with a yeast that works well in cold temperatures - although not necessarily a lager yeast.  There aren't a lot of options with this.  The only ones I know are the yeasts you use for Koelsch and Altbiers or the "California Common", better known as a Steam Beer.

I checked out what yeasts were available before figuring out what I was going to make.  I saw one that I had never used before, and that was the German Ale yeast from Wyeast.  According to the handy chart that MoreBeer has on the wall, it could handle a fairly wide range of temperatures.

Then I got it in me to create my own extract kit instead of using one of the ones that are already packaged and ready to go.  Basically, I want something that's kinda like an Altbier, although maybe a little bit more hoppy.

The difficult part was in picking the flavoring grains.  There's a chart on the wall, but the numbers and names on the chart don't match up with the numbers and names on the products.  I did a little Google searching with my smart phone though, and I think that I came up with something good.  So, here are the flavoring grains:

8 oz. Koelsch malt
8 oz. Caramunich malt
4 oz. chocolate wheat

For hops, I figured that German ones would be the best way to go with this one:

2 oz. Tettnanger for bittering - one hour in the boil
1 oz. Hersbrucker for aroma - 10 minutes in the boil
1 oz. Hersbrucker for flavor - 5 minutes in the boil

I have to admit that the Hersbrucker stood out, and I was determined to use that one.  Why is that?  Well, I have some relatives in Hersbruck, Germany, and I thought it would be cool if I used hops from that area.  After all, it was a highlight of my last trip to Germany, so I guess their hops must be pretty good.

As for extract, I used 7 lbs. of Pilsner malt.

If all goes well, it will be a relatively low-alcohol, malty, sweet beer with a mild but noticeable hop aroma and flavor.  I guess I'll have to write an update in about three weeks or so.


So, how does it taste?  I must admit that I was a bit disappointed when I tried it at first, but I figured that I'd let it age out a few weeks before giving my final thoughts.  At first, it was okay, but it was probably a bit too bitter, which makes me think that if I do this one again, I should cut one ounce of the Tettnanger hops.

Still, now that it's aged a few extra weeks, I have to say that I'm really enjoying it.  I guess if I had to compare it to an official style, it's definitely more like an Altbier than anything else.  It goes down pretty smooth and compliments nearly anything that you might decide to eat with it.  I had a couple of friends try it, and they both really liked it as well.  Would I make it again?  Sure, but I would make a few tweaks to how I handle the hops.

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