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Old 06-20-2011, 05:54 AM   #1
Fermentalist
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Default Brewing Altbeir

I decided to try and brew an Altbeir recently. Right now Im nearing the end of the primary fermentation. I was hoping I could get some tips about the upcoming months. In 2 days I will be racking to a secondary and Im planning to lager for 1.5- 2 months at 45 degrees F. Im hoping someone could tell me if these plans are on point. After lagering, I think I will be bottle conditioning at room temp for another month. I fear that these temps./ time frames might be a little on the impatient side. I know that this style of beer is not well known but any and all tips would be appreciated. O.G. 1.054. Ill figure out another reading of the gravity when I rack to secondary.

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Old 06-20-2011, 02:38 PM   #2
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I brew a number of alts and enjoy them a great deal. What you are proposing sounds fine as long as you realize that after three monts and most of that at very low ale tempratures you will most likely kill the yeast to the extent that the beer will not bottle condition without an addition of new yeast. You don't need to lager but using a lager like technique will certianly not hurt the flavor of the final product. I have found two things that I believe greatly enhance the flavor of the alts. First if you can brew all grain and full boil, do it. I am still trying to perfect my decoction technique but think that at some point I would say use the double D. At this point my skill level just isn't well enough developed with the double D to produce a malt flavor that I can't at least get close to duplicating other ways. I would also say that the alts benifit from a longer conditioning time. I use 6 to 12 weeks for all of my alts at this point. I also tend to use a fair amount of Vienna or up to about 20% Melanoidin in my alts

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Old 06-20-2011, 02:50 PM   #3
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Since alts are ale's, I see no need to "lager", although I consider the temp you mentioned to be more of a conditioning or cellar temp. I find my alts are very good after 6 weeks. I recently just finished one that was 7 months old and found it to be a tad lacking as compared to when it was younger. Be careful your time frame doesn't miss the window of best flavor. You can always bottle age, and test them at different intervals. fwiw, I only lager(35f) BIG German lager's that long.

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Old 06-20-2011, 10:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildwest450 View Post
Since alts are ale's, I see no need to "lager", although I consider the temp you mentioned to be more of a conditioning or cellar temp.

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Now im thinking i might lager for only about 3 weeks tops at 45 F as to not kill the yeast so that I can still bottle condition. I am weary of bottle conditioning my Altbeir at any temp lower than room temp because I fear that I would stall the yeast and not get rid of the off flavors as a result of the dextrose addition when bottling. Thoughts?

P.S. My apologies if any of my thoughts seem like that of a juvenile brewer. Fact is, I am one!
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Old 06-20-2011, 10:23 PM   #5
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I have my first Altbier in cold conditioning phase (week 4 @ 38F) right now and its complex flavours just started to mellow out and blend the way they should. I don't see how people can turn around Alts faster than 2 months.
Alts should be cold conditioned atleast 3-4 weeks

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Old 06-20-2011, 10:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paraordnance View Post
I have my first Altbier in cold conditioning phase (week 4 @ 38F) right now and its complex flavours just started to mellow out and blend the way they should. I don't see how people can turn around Alts faster than 2 months.
Alts should be cold conditioned atleast 3-4 weeks
when you say cold conditioned, do you mean still in the fermenter or is this in the bottles?
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Old 06-20-2011, 10:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paraordnance View Post
I don't see how people can turn around Alts faster than 2 months.
Alts should be cold conditioned atleast 3-4 weeks
Where did that info come from? It's only a 4.5 to 5% beer.


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Old 06-21-2011, 03:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fermentalist View Post
when you say cold conditioned, do you mean still in the fermenter or is this in the bottles?
preferably in fermentor but I don't see anything wrong with bottle or keg conditioning (I don't bottle)
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Old 06-21-2011, 03:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildwest450 View Post
Where did that info come from? It's only a 4.5 to 5% beer.


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its all over the web:

from BYO - "Lagering for a few weeks in the 40° to low 50° F range will promote the wonderful smoothness of a good altbier."

BJCP Style Guidelines - "Those that are made as ales are fermented at cool ale temperatures and lagered at cold temperatures (as with Düsseldorf Alt). Light copper to light brown color; very clear from extended cold conditioning."

German Beer Institute - "Altbiers are fermented with aspecialty ale yeast at a cool 55°F (13°C) to 67°F (19°C) and then aged for one or two months, like a lager, to bring out its mellow maltiness and aromatic hoppiness."

So, yes, cold conditioning is nearly a must for true Alt
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:12 PM   #10
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An alt needs to be cold conditioned. Most of the yeast strains wont drop out very well and it also drops proteins and tannin to give it the crispness. Mine usually only need a few weeks of cold conditioning so I can serve mine in three weeks from a keg or a month from a bottle. My last one was a week a 60, a few days at room temp then into secondary at 38F.

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