This is my 3rd recipe for a Düsseldorf Altbier, a style I was turned onto by a friend whose wife hails from Düsseldorf. Since there aren't many altbiers imported to the US and since, according to my friend and his wife, there aren't really any good American-made versions of the style, I've taken it upon myself to see if I can make something that will satisfy them. The first version, while a fine beer, turned out too dark with a touch of roast character that was out of style. I used less dark malt (chocolate wheat) in the second iteration, which turned out lighter, with less roast, and again was a fine beer. But I used a lot of low-alpha Tettnang for bittering and perhaps too much Hallertauer in the middle of the boil. The result was that I felt like it had too much hop flavor, detracting from the style once gain (not to mention that I strayed from using the traditional altbier hop, Spaltz).
So, I tweaked the recipe once again this time around. I cut back the chocolate wheat even more, used some high-alpha Magnum for bittering, and returned to using Spaltz hop for flavor. I also did a single decoction mash - essentially followin Kai Troester's process for his altbier, mashing in at 150°F and pulling a thin decoction after 45 minutes. I boiled the decoction for about 10 minutes before adding it back to the MLT to hit mash-out @ 168°F. I skipped the protein rest, but I think I would add that step next time to help with the head formation/retention.
This recipe turned out truly excellent. It received high marks from my friend and his Düsseldorfer wife.
(apologies for the strange values - I've scaled this recipe up from a smaller batch size)
- for convenience you could probably just increase all the base malts up to 3 lbs each
2 lbs 14 oz Pilsner malt
2 lbs 14 oz Pale ale malt
2 lbs 14 oz Munich I
3 oz acid malt (for proper mash pH given my water)
1.5 oz Chocolate Wheat
9 g Magnum - 60 min
20 g Spalter - 60 min
14 g Spalter - 15 min
Saccharification - 150°F (45 min)
Single Decoction (boiled for 10 min) to mashout @ 165°F