Kottbusser - A style deserving of revival!

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Barley_Bob

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I keep getting bottles of Berghoff that are leftover from an Oktoberfest party I didn't go to. Berghoff is fine, and I'm certainly not complaining. They have a couple of options above average, and a couple below. Anyway, the case that came my way over the weekend had a couple of bottles of their "Kotbusser style Pale Ale." I was blown away. It was very good, and Kottbusser is a totally new concept to me. It doesn't leap out of the glass and slap you in the face like a usual APA does, but it has a much cleaner profile than an English Pale Ale. It certainly is a unique style, with its own merits, and it absolutely deserves space on the shelf.

So why am I telling you this? Because there's almost no information out there! Apparently, there was an article about it in Zymurgy, and it pops up in Radical Brewing, but I have access to neither. There certainly are very few recipes out there, and there isn't much discussion of the style taking place (at least I couldn't find much). So, it's time to discuss. At the very least, something needs to come up when Kottbusser is Googled. I firmly believe this is a style worth exploring and expanding.

Berghoff lists their version of this style as an APA, and they claim to spruce it up by adding some North American hops. Otherwise, the basic recipe is as follows:

59% pilsner
30% wheat
8% flaked oats

Added during fermentation
2% wildflower honey
1% molasses

A recipe on BrewToad offers 24 IBUs from Spalt, with 60 and 10 minute additions.

And that's it. I'm going to add some version of this to my list of planned brews, and I hope to get to it in January. In the mean time, do me a favor, and give kottbusser a chance.
 

dkennedy

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Looks interesting. I just picked up Radical Brewing, here is Mosher's recipe. Might have to give this a shot, I feel like more molasses and honey would be good, but will try to just brew it straight first. I like that it was an outlaw beer, nice ring to it.

Mosher mentions that a triple decoction was the typical mash for this, but could get away with a two-step would work. 2 hour mash and 2 hour boil, this is a time-consuming beer!

BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Kotbusser
Style: Dusseldorf Altbier
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 6.72 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.72 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 4.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 4.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 26.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.5 %
Boil Time: 120 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
6 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 56.8 %
3 lbs 8.0 oz Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 33.1 %
13.0 oz Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 3 7.7 %
1.00 oz Tettnang (Tettnang Tettnager) [4.00 %] - Hop 4 16.2 IBUs
0.50 oz Tettnang (Tettnang Tettnager) [4.00 %] - Hop 5 5.7 IBUs
1.00 oz Tettnang (Tettnang Tettnager) [4.00 %] - Hop 6 3.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Saaz [3.75 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 7 1.4 IBUs
1.0 pkg Kolsch Yeast (Wyeast Labs #2565) [124.21 Yeast 8 -
2.0 oz Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 9 1.2 %
2.0 oz Molasses (80.0 SRM) Sugar 10 1.2 %
 
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Barley_Bob

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I can't decide if I want to brew this exactly to spec or try to experiment with it a little coming out of the gate. I sort of feel obligated to do it exact... which is a great way to make me want to experiment. Regardless, there's no way I'm doing a decoction mash. I'll probably toss in some aromatic malt instead. My worry with this style is that, if you try to make it more bold, you'll drown out any effect from the honey. Hopefully, enough homebrewers will take a crack at this that we can figure it out.
 

dkennedy

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On the mash, Mosher's two-step (in lieu of triple decoction) is a 60 min protein rest at 122 F, then 152 for 60. I'd try that out.
He also mentions adding the honey and molasses after primary fermentation, for a flavor bump.

Both sound like the approach that I would try, while doing my best to keep my creative modifications at bay :D
 
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Barley_Bob

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On the mash, Mosher's two-step (in lieu of triple decoction) is a 60 min protein rest at 122 F, then 152 for 60. I'd try that out.
He also mentions adding the honey and molasses after primary fermentation, for a flavor bump.

Both sound like the approach that I would try, while doing my best to keep my creative modifications at bay :D
I should have made mention of adding the honey and molasses post-primary fermentation myself. Good catch.

And I have a better idea - you brew it exactly to spec, and I'll experiment. We can do a bottle swap when they're done.
 

dkennedy

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I'd be down for that. Capacity is pretty focused on competition for the next few months, I've decided to make a run at a GABF Pro Am selection competition, while working out the last kinks in the new setup. Brilliant timing.
Sounds like a good spring beer anyways.
 
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Barley_Bob

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Let me know, then, when you're getting close to ready so we can time them about the same. Good luck in competition!
 

uncleleon

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Yeah I read that zymurgy and brewed up a batch for some friends. It's next in line for the kegerator. I used Us05 tho.
 
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Barley_Bob

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I have WLP029 in my refrigerator. But I agree that a clean American yeast should work.
 

raysmithtx

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I too am looking to brew this but am a little concerned about the recipe in Zymurgy. The IBU/SG ratio for their recipe is only .29 vs. the Beersmith recipe (as well as a few others I found online ) where the ratio is about .5.

I'm a little concerned that the Zymurgy recipe may end up way too sweet.

I have only brewed about 75 batches so I still consider myself a beginner and may be misunderstanding something here.

Anybody have and advice/input on this?
 
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Barley_Bob

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I too am looking to brew this but am a little concerned about the recipe in Zymurgy. The IBU/SG ratio for their recipe is only .29 vs. the Beersmith recipe (as well as a few others I found online ) where the ratio is about .5.

I'm a little concerned that the Zymurgy recipe may end up way too sweet.

I have only brewed about 75 batches so I still consider myself a beginner and may be misunderstanding something here.

Anybody have and advice/input on this?
I'm going to up the IBUs on mine to ~30 for a BU/GU of .5. My concern with increasing bitterness and hop aroma is that I'll lose some of the effect of the honey and molasses. However, I think this is going to be a safe value, and I'm going to up the honey a little to compensate.

I think your concern over it being too sweet is valid, but that the result is going to depend a lot on which yeast you use. I'm planning to use WLP029, a kolsch yeast, but I also would consider WLP036 Dusseldorf Altbier. WLP036 is much lower attenuating, and you'll notice that the style compensates by upping the bitterness (35 IBUs at the low end).

If you're worried about this, use the higher attenuating yeast and/or mash at a lower temperature. Weigh the balance there, but I think a BU/GU of .29 will be alright depending on those variables and on your palate.

I also think it's important to remember that, for this entire style, we have one single recipe. I can only imagine that, at one time, there would have been huge variation within the style. It's a harvest ale, so I'm sure brewers made use of all the different grains being harvested together in the fall. So, I think we should experiment with it and see what works. That's the only way we can expand the style. Try different yeasts, swap out grains, up the IBUs, tinker with hops. Then come back and update the group.
 

raysmithtx

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I'm going to up the IBUs on mine to ~30 for a BU/GU of .5. My concern with increasing bitterness and hop aroma is that I'll lose some of the effect of the honey and molasses. However, I think this is going to be a safe value, and I'm going to up the honey a little to compensate.
I don't want to take a chance on the beer being overly sweet so....

I changed the recipe to up my IBU:OG ratio to hit in the .5 range. I did not change the late hop additions, only the bittering hops. I bumped the honey a little but did not change the molasses because of all the threads saying a little goes a long way and too much can leave a metallic taste in the beer.

I'm using a standard ale yeast because I'm brewing an ale at about the same time and need the temps to be in the same neighborhood (same fermentation chamber).

I plan on brewing this along with the Brown ale over the next couple of weeks.
 

FarmerTed

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I too am looking to brew this but am a little concerned about the recipe in Zymurgy. The IBU/SG ratio for their recipe is only .29 vs. the Beersmith recipe (as well as a few others I found online ) where the ratio is about .5.

I'm a little concerned that the Zymurgy recipe may end up way too sweet.

I have only brewed about 75 batches so I still consider myself a beginner and may be misunderstanding something here.

Anybody have and advice/input on this?
I've had the Grimm Bros. Kotbusser, and I don't recall it being sweet. It was a pretty light-bodied pale ale, as I recall (I had it a couple years ago).
 

raysmithtx

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I've had the Grimm Bros. Kotbusser, and I don't recall it being sweet. It was a pretty light-bodied pale ale, as I recall (I had it a couple years ago).
The Zymurgy recipe may be correct but it makes me wonder if there's a typo since every other Kottbusser recipe I found (the ingredients were all very similar) ended up with a lot more IBU's. I'm hoping for a light refreshing pale ale. I should know in a few weeks.
 

FarmerTed

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The Zymurgy recipe may be correct but it makes me wonder if there's a typo since every other Kottbusser recipe I found (the ingredients were all very similar) ended up with a lot more IBU's. I'm hoping for a light refreshing pale ale. I should know in a few weeks.
Here's a link to the info sheet. They list it at 20 ibus, and they have a double version (9.5% abv) that's 36 ibu's.

I didn't realize it was 7.1% abv; I thought it was in the 5 range. Those ibu's do seem kind of low, lol. They've got some funny typos in there, like this:

Snow Drop is the direct German translation of the story “Snow White”. In the art for this label, we portrayed Snow Drop holding the apple in her
hand. In the story the apple was what caused her to fall into a sleep. The idea is that our heroin is facing her destiny without fear.
 

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Barley_Bob

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I know I'm a little late to the party, but here's the page of links Google came up with; https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=kottbusser%20ale%20recipe%3F
May just have to make room for this one in the near future. Maybe in my 2nd home brewing book?
* Also found it on Beersmith; http://beersmithrecipes.com/viewrecipe/600848/kottbusser It's an AG recipe, but could easily be converted to partial mash by subbing half or so of the pilsner malt.
You're hardly late to the party - none of us has even brewed this yet! Thanks for the resources, and let us know if you take a crack at it. I think, if you give the community a chance to try some variations of the recipe, you would find great material for a book. Fantastic idea!
 

unionrdr

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It'll most likely wind up in my 2nd book on home brewing, " Tippy Tippy Tappy II:Historic Styles & Struggles". I'll also have to brew up new versions of my Burton ale & the Whiskely, having gone partial mash since I originally brewed some of the older recipes. I like brewing old/extinct beer styles. So I'll keep an eye on folks variations on the theme for inclusion. This could give me some new directions, as I've got a couple chapters written already.
 

Setesh

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It'll most likely wind up in my 2nd book on home brewing, " Tippy Tippy Tappy II:Historic Styles & Struggles". I'll also have to brew up new versions of my Burton ale & the Whiskely, having gone partial mash since I originally brewed some of the older recipes. I like brewing old/extinct beer styles. So I'll keep an eye on folks variations on the theme for inclusion. This could give me some new directions, as I've got a couple chapters written already.
Oh man! Thanks for the flashback! I had completely forgotten about Rikki-Tikki-Tavi until I read your post. Good childhood memory! It seems like the older I get the more sentimental I get, odd that.

On topic, I had never heard of a Kottbusser before now, this sounds really interesting. It will be at least 3 months before I can brew again due to moving, but I am putting this on the list when I can.
 

unionrdr

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Same here. I have a few I need to brew first before I get to it. I thought of the book title when stuck (yet again) in traffic on Detroit Rd. " Here we go again, tippy tippy tappy on the brake pedal...". I later realized it sounds like rikki tikki tavi.
 

dkennedy

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Planning a slight variation (maly availability/stock) of Mosher's recipe for the first brew of 2015. Might even be a New Year's event.
 
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Barley_Bob

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Planning a slight variation (maly availability/stock) of Mosher's recipe for the first brew of 2015. Might even be a New Year's event.
Shoot. I'll move mine up so our batches come out a little closer together. Thanks for the heads up!
 

dkennedy

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Shoot. I'll move mine up so our batches come out a little closer together. Thanks for the heads up!
Or, I brew this one, and you can sample it and go from there. I figure that I'll have time to adjust and brew again in time for a local competition in late March, happy to get some preliminary feedback for round 2.
Your call.
 
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Barley_Bob

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Or, I brew this one, and you can sample it and go from there. I figure that I'll have time to adjust and brew again in time for a local competition in late March, happy to get some preliminary feedback for round 2.
Your call.
True. I have a bag of pilsner malt on order. With the holidays, it'll probably be mid-January before I have it. I guess it doesn't really matter too much. It'd be nice to be able to do a side by side with two beers that are close in age, but there are advantages to doing it different ways.
 

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Cool. I'll plan on brewing it in a couple weeks. Just started some research into this outlawed German style. I also found a reference to raw oats being added & altbier yeast used.
 
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Cool. I'll plan on brewing it in a couple weeks. Just started some research into this outlawed German style. I also found a reference to raw oats being added & altbier yeast used.
Radical brewing lists it as a "cousin" to the altbier. My LHBS carries White Labs, which leaves 029 and 036 as my options (short of ordering online). 036 is the option I would choose for a true altbier, but White Labs lists 029 as an excellent choice too. I have 029 on hand, so that's what I'm going with. I imagine Wyeast and others would carry additional options?

I have rolled oats on hand, so, again, that's what I'm planning to use. Any expected difference between rolled and raw oats?
 

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I'm thinking the rolled/flaked oats would work better. WL029 Kolsch yeast is the steadiest fermenter I ever used. But they did say an altbier yeast was traditional. So if you use the WL029, I'll use the Altbier yeast. I have a whole crapton of gel packs in the freezer if I need to keep it cooler.
 

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Currently drinking mine. Friends love it. I think it came out too sweet and had a lot of body so I checked the FG, 1.009

I used all honey instead of molasses and s05. It has some hallertau floral and spice with some honey floral aroma and taste. I think it needs more conditioning. Probably needs to slight sulphury that one would get from German ale yeast. I'll post a picture when drops clearer.
 

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The sulphur smell/taste should dissipate by the time the beer carbs & conditions. Be sure you don't use a but a little bit of the honey & molasses. As I currently understand it, it's a minor flavor addition. Hard to find much historical info on it, as it was outlawed in Germany by the damn purity law.
 

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Here's some stuff I found this morning;
http://boozybeggar.blogspot.com/2013/07/fermented-18-off-color-brewings-scurry.html
Can't find zymurgy issue with recipe?
Brewtoad AG recipe. Can sub maybe 3lbs of pilsner or extra light DME for part of the 5.4lbs of pilsen malt in the mash for a PM brew;
https://www.brewtoad.com/recipes/kottbusser But with the flaked oats, maybe add some rice hulls to the mash? Reading ratebeer posting, instead of using spalt hops like brewtoads version, it says tettnang & hallertau hops. But the Against The Grain version is slightly hazy yellow golden color. Others have it as a red ale with a crisp finish. Descriptions seem to indicate a German grain giving a bit of red color. Carared? gotta look at my dampfbier recipe for that grain, I forget. so WL029 Kolsch yeast is appropo. But being an early offshoot of altbier, an altbier yeast would also be considered proper. Not a lot of distinct info out there. I see now that this is going to be a quest. I'll keep looking...must...have...beer...analyze recipe...error?...analyze...analyze...error... :drunk:
*OK, well, here's a review of the Grimm bro's "snow drop" kottbusser; http://www.fermentedlychallenged.com/2011/12/taste-of-grimm-brothers-brewhouse.html
So in all, I'm leaning toward the reddish ale version, which seems to be more authentic. A bit crisp on the back with a bitter breadiness. I've found that when mashing German malts for the dampfbier that this "breadiness" is more like toasted good bread with a touch of nuttiness. This is inherent in German malts, it seems. I may have to work up a hybrid of Brewsmith & Brewtoad versions with German malts.
 

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OK, I'm working up the recipe in BS2 from a combination of Beersmith's & Brewtoad's recipes. Beersmith lists the style as a Kolsch. But using that style definition I can't get an OG of 1.050 with the amounts of ingredients listed. I switched to the "specialty beer" classification Brewtoad uses & the numbers fall right into line. I have to agree with this, as it isn't a "Kolsch" merely because of the yeast used in both recipes (WL029). So I guess I'll be using the Kolsch yeast, as both recipes list it. Here's a page from Barkley Perkins on Kotbusser; http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2010/07/kotbusser-bier-recipe.html Are we to assume the "raw sugar" to be something like demerara-raw cane sugar? So far, the recipe looks like this under the Specialty Beer style classification. Partial Mash, BIAB medium bodied, Ale, single stage;
Bohemian pilsner malt- 3lbs
Pilsner LME- 3lbs
German wheat malt- 3lbs
Flaked oats- 12ozs
Acidulated malt- 4ozs
Rice hulls- 8ozs
Honey- 1.3ozs
Molasses- 1/2oz
Magnum hops- .65oz, 60 minutes
Hallertauer hops- .6oz, 3 minutes
Czech Saaz hops- 1oz, 3 minutes
Whirlfloc- 1/2 tablet, 15 minutes
Yeast, WL029 German Kolsch, 1 vial
RANGE ESTIMATED
OG 1.030-1.110 1.060
FG 1.015
IBU 5.0-70.0 20.4
Color 5-50 SRM 4.6
ABV 2.5-12% 6.0%
Carbonation level 2.3 VCo2
What do y'all think so far? I think it needs a bit more reddish color. Hard to keep IBU's in the listed 14.3 range without going all the way to the bottom of the IBU graph? Besides, I don't think 20.4 IBU's is too much.
* Here's a map of Germany that shows the city of Cottbus being near the Western border of Poland near the NW border of the Czech Republic; http://itouchmap.com/?r=b&e=y&p=51.291667,13.523889:0:0:Cottbuser%20Bahnhof,%20Germany
 
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