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Old 08-15-2012, 02:07 PM   #1
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Brewing another alt this weekend. What can I say, I love 'em. Ideally, I'd like to enter this into competition under 08C Northern German Altbier but I have a slight logistics problem. The alt I have in the fermenter currently is going to be bottled this weekend, but I fugged the pooch pretty bad on it, so it never even made it within range of the requirements.
Here's the grain bill and hops I'm using:

9lbs American 2 -Row Pale
1lb American Crystal 60L
0.5lb American Crystal 90L

WLP029

1oz Cascade Pellet 60min
0.5oz Saaz Pellet 15min
0.5oz Saaz Pellet 3min

My problem is that I know I'm going to have a problem keeping this within optimal ferm temp as my current equipment is under reconstruction. The only place I can put a swamp cooler is in a bathtub in a bathroom that is being used. I keep the bathroom pretty clean and I guess I could spray everything down with StarSan daily and not open the lid. Out of curiosity, anyone know what this might taste like if it ferments at slightly higher temps say in the mid-upper 70's (fermenter, not ambient)? Probably will kill the possibility of it staying within the BJCP guidelines. Ideas? Opinions? I'd like to redeem myself.

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Kegged - Ryerish Red
Fermenting - Plinius Maior

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Old 08-15-2012, 02:18 PM   #2
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If you want an authentic tasting Northern German altbier, I'd suggest changing up the recipe in several ways.

First, I'd use noble hops for bittering. Since altbier is a very clean beer with a good amount of bittering, I think cascade would be discernible and out of place. You want a firm hop bitterness, but restrained hopping, if that makes sense. I wouldn't use late hops at all, but the saaz may leave a spicy flavor that is weird in an altbier. I'd use a neutral hop for bittering, like Magnum, or a noble hop variety like tettnanger and that's it.

It should also have some bready or biscuity notes, and not just caramel sweetness. It should also be fairly dark colored.

I wouldn't use US two-row or crystal malt in an altbier. I would use Munich malt and pilsner malt, some carafa special (for color), and a tiny bit of caraMunich for the crystal notes. I've seen victory in altbiers, but never used it myself, and I've liked it.

As far as fermentation, it really has to be kept cool-ish. I've used Wyeast 1007 with great results. I used it at 60-62 degrees, and loved it. If you went any higher than about 65, it might get excessively fruity. That strain seems to take forever to clear if you're not filtering (I don't) so you may want to go with a more flocculant strain. I'm not sure of the one from White Labs, but that may be a good choice.

To control fermentation temperatures, you could try sticking your fermenter in a cooler with an ice and water bath. That's why I do, since I don't have a spare bathtub. I even made a foam lid out of foam insulation, which is probably overkill but I only change out the frozen water bottles about once a day.

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Old 08-15-2012, 02:30 PM   #3
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Thanks Yoop. I'm definitely not a fan of Victory, so I'll avoid that. I have some Marris Otter and a little bit of Munich, but I doubt I could get my hands on pilsner before Saturday. Homebrewing is technically illegal here, so going to a lhbs is not a possibility. I'm trying to make the style with what I have or can get and stay within the 08C guidelines. Think Marris Otter and Munich would sub well enough for the American 2 row? Unfortunately, I'll have to stay with crystal since that's all I have. I know I have some Hallertau or Hersbrucker around here somewhere but they're not the freshest. I'll probably just chalk this one up as an experiment, keg it, and let the "beer bubbas" drink it on NCAA football opening day. Either way, it's gonna be beer. 16C you're next!

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Bottled - Swamp Water Mead
Kegged - Ryerish Red
Fermenting - Plinius Maior

“For a quart of Ale is a dish for a king.”
― William Shakespeare

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