for a while now, I have participated on this site due to the fact that I love making (and drinking) hard cider. I have never brewed beer since I am quite happy with some of the commercially available options in my area (Boston) - even though I am a German and therefore supposed to complain about the quality of American beer or I might lose my citizenship.
However, one beer that I can not really get hold of here in the US is the German “Malzbier”, also called “Kraftbier” or “Nährbier” which is a non alcoholic (i.e. < 0.5% ABV), sweet and malty beer that kids love to drink over there (at least when I was young). The big brand names in Germany are Vitamalz or Karamalz and many German breweries actually produce it locally or under these brand names. On our last trip to Germany, my kids really got into the drink quite a bit so I looked into making some myself. My first batch (half batch, 2.5 gallons) was gone within 5 days (two teenagers, my little 8yo and both parents) so I guess I did something right … thus I thought I’ll share:
Let me sum this drink up before I go into details: it is basically regular beer (light on hop, some caramelized malt and a little sugar added) which is pitched, immediately bottled after pitching and bottle pasteurized 12-24 hours after pitching to stop fermentation at around 0.25% - just enough to carbonize. With forced carbonisation / kegging it could be done with 0 alcohol even though the flavor does significantly improve with just a few hours of active yeast. Thus all big breweries add yeast and let it ferment to somewhere around 0.25 - 0.4% ABV even though they force carbonate and don’t need the CO2.
After some back and forth trial, the recipe for a full batch (5 gallons) is as follows:
2 x 3.3 lbs can of Briess Liquid Malt Extract “Munich”
1000 g (about 7 cups) dextrose
18 g Hallertau hop pellets (3.9% Alpha Acid)
~5 gallons of water (you’ll need more for boil off)
a pack of Safale S-04 yeast
Optionally, you can steep with fresh malt which produces a grainier / fresher taste … For my last batch I had: 1 lb of Caramel L60, 0.5 lbs of De-bittered Black, 0.5 lbs of 6-row and I used less sugar due to that added extraction (600g) - but that might be not sweet enough for kids that are used to sodas ...
For steeping (optional as I said), I put the grains into a steeping bag and soaked it in 1 gal of water at 160 F for 30 minutes. I put some more warm water through the bag (maybe a quart or two) so I ended up with a little over a gallon of fluid.
I brought up the liquid to about 3 gallons (so if you don’t steep, just use 3 gallons of water). I then added the malt and the sugar and brought it to a boil. I added the hop and boiled it for 60 minutes (rolling boil, open lid). In order to get the temperature down and thus be able to filter the hop out, I added 2 gallons of cold water when the 60 minutes were over. In theory, it is commonly advised to use sanitized water and all that but since bottle pasteurization happens 12-36 hours later, the sanitation requirements are not as stringent as for regular beer. That cold water brought it down to a manageable temperature and I filtered the hop by racking into a plastic fermenter through some layers of cheesecloth. I then filled up the fermenter with more cold water so I had a bit more than 5 gallons and a gravity of 1.056.
I pitched the yeast after the temperature of the wort dropped well under 100F (I had the yeast soaking in lukewarm water for 30 minutes gently stirred it into a “milk”), did some aeration and bottled right away (yeah, that’s the weird part for a brewer). About 12-36 hours later (depends highly on temperature and yeast prep), the PET bottle I use to assess pressure was hard and I bottle pasteurized the batch. Here is a link to the method
I used including one of my posts explaining my modifications
to the original method.
Word of caution: even if you are familiar with bottle pasteurization, this situation is unique since you pasteurize while the fermentation is in full swing and not dying down like in a racked cider or other situations. So you could have everything work out ok with the first few pots, and the last batches will explode in the pot … I recommend actually opening and closing the bottles just before putting them into the pot - this will leave enough CO2 in there. And I do wear protective glasses and gloves ...
… and drink it well cooled !!! (no aging necessary … or better, no bottle I produced ever made it to the 2 week mark so I could check whether aging would improve it …)