#9 Wiener Helles

Eureka, it is time for yet another recipe from the past. This time, one of my favorite recipes. I really like Vienna malt for the maltyness it contributes to a beer. And this character is most suitable in either Munich or Vienna style beers. Although “Helles” refers to bottom fermenting beers in general, this particular beer is fermented with a top fermenting yeast strain. In this case S04, a dry yeast. I know this is not a very suitable yeast strain for such a beer but the variety of yeast strains back then (2007) was quite limited and if a liquid yeast strain was available, it was very expensive. Luckily, this is very different these days (although still expensive). I can now purchase nearly every strain from Wyeast. White Labs strains are still not available around here…

Anyway, let’s go through the recipe. I added some Caramunich to give it some color and used some acidified malt to lower the residual alkalinity of my water. The Vienna malt backbone should lead to a very malty beer and the Carapils improves the head. Some information about the mash schedule. The first rest at 45°C is a protein rest to improve the head of the beer. Then followed by two different saccharification rests. Finished with a mash out at 78°C.

Recipe: Wiener Helles
Numbers: Volume [L] 25 (6.6 gal)
Original gravity 12.8°P
Terminal gravity 4.5°P
Color Around 13 EBC
ABV 4.5 %
Grains: Vienna malt (8 EBC) 5 kg
Carapils (4 EBC) 0.34 kg
Caramunich 1 (90 EBC) 0.34 kg
Acidified malt (5 EBC) 0.1 kg
Hops: Tettnanger (4.5% AA) 30 g and boil for 70 min
Tettnanger (4.5% AA) 8 g and boil for 1 min
Yeast: Saflager S04
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 25 L (6.6 gal), sparge: 17 L (4.5 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @45°C (113°F), 20 min @45°C (109°F), 30 min @61°C (142°F), 30 min @72°C (162°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 70 min
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary None
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2
Maturation time 3 weeks

Fig 1: Mash is resting

04/28/07: Brew day number nine. I had a 25 L lauter bucket and a 28 L kettle back then and this recipe filled the bucket and kettle up to the very top (Fig 1 and Fig 2). However, all went according to the protocol and no overflows and such happened. At the end, I collected 25 L of wort after the boil. I originally planed to get 20 L but hey, more beer is always appreciated.

Fig 2: Ready to lauter

Fig 3: Filling up the cooling bucket

05/05/07: Bottled the beer after a primary fermentation of seven days. Added cane sugar to get to a carbonation level of 2 vol. Then left the beer mature for nearly 4 weeks before I did a first tasting. Please remember, my tasting skills were very limited back then…

Aroma: Very malty aroma and some hop notes as well. Smells pretty awesome. Can’t remember if there were any ester notes from the English yeast strain (S04).

Appearance: The beer is clear and a appears in a very golden color. Pretty nice white head. Looks like a Vienna Helles should look like.

Flavor: Very rich malt backbone with some hop notes and a hint of bitterness. The balance is more on the malt side than bitterness. I could drink pints of this stuff…

Mouthfeel: Medium body, average carbonation and a malty finish. This makes it very easy to enjoy.

Overall Impression: Pretty solid beer. I just thought about to do another batch of this particular recipe sometimes. It seems to be really refreshing and easy enjoyable. Although, I would probably change the yeast and go with either a bottom fermenting or a clean top fermenting strain. Maybe Wyeast’s #2112 California Lager strain would work as an alternative. Please leave a comment below if someone gives this recipe a shot. I am very interested how the beers turn out… Stay tuned for further recipes!


#49 Belgian Oatmeal Stout

Eureka, its time for yet another peek into my recipe book. Todays recipe is a straight forward oatmeal stout recipe fermented by a Belgian stout yeast (Wyeast’s #1581 Belgian Stout). I already did some Irish Dry Stout recipes in the past but many of you might know that these beers tend to get really thin. My approach to increase the body and structure of such a beer was to add some oatmeal. This increases the body of the beer due to the increasing amount of unfermentable sugars and other components I guess. I intended to use Wyeast’s Irish Ale yeast to do the job in the first place. Then decided to give Wyeast’s Private Collection strain #1581 Belgian Stout yeast a go. The recipe bellow is a slightly changed version of Jamil Zainasheff’s recipe (“Brewing Classic Styles”). I normally adjust all recipes to fit my system and efficiencies. But this time, I went with the original grist to check if my calculations are correct. The original recipe called for a 5 gal batch with an OG of 13.5°P. My OG was a bit less than the original recipe but had 0.8 gal more beer. Works for me. More beer is always ok…

Recipe: Belgian Oatmeal Stout
Numbers: Volume [L] 22 (5.8 gal)
Original gravity 13.2°P
Terminal gravity 4.3°P
Color Around 100 EBC
ABV 4.9%
Grains: Pale malt (6.5 EBC) 4.3 kg
Chocolate malt (700 EBC) 0.34 kg
Roasted barley (1150 EBC) 0.15 kg
Carafa 1 (900 EBC) 0.08 kg
Crystal (120 EBC) 0.23 kg
Oat flakes 0.45 kg
Hops: East Kent Goldings (5.2% AA) 49 g and boil for 60 min
Yeast: #1581 Belgian Stout
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 14 L (3.7 gal), sparge: 19 L (5 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @68°C (154°F), 60 min @ 66°C (151°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 60 min
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary 17 days @ 20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2-3 (carbonated with fresh wort)
Maturation time > 6 weeks

Fig 1: Look at the grist…

Fig 2: Look at the boiling wort…

03/31/12: And yet another brew day begins. I had to substitute some of the roasted barley with Carafa 1 because I had no roasted barley left. But this should not have a big influence I guess… Nevertheless, the resting went great, iodine test was negative after resting for 60 min at 66°C (151°F) and so I proceeded to the sparging process. Then added the East Kent Golding hops and boiled the wort for 60 min.

I then transferred the wort to my whirlpool kettle and let the sediment settle down. Then cooled the wort down to 20°C (68°F) and pitched the appropriate amount of the Belgian Stout yeast. I bottled two liters of the fresh wort for the later carbonating process. The OG was 13.2°P and I had 22 L (5.8 gal) in total. This is more or less what I expected from my calculations. Isn’t it nice if your calculations can foresee the future? I am quite proud of my self-made calculation program. I have to mention that it took my several batches to tune it. And now it works like a charm. Back to the beer, the fermentation started within several hours.

04/07/12: Racked the young beer into a secondary fermenter.

04/24/12: Kegged the beer with 2 L of wort. By the way, I stored the wort I collected after the boil in a 2 L bottle in my fridge. The remaining of the beer went into 1 L bottles with some sugar. I become a pretty patient brewer lately: I will let the beer carbonate and mature for nearly eight weeks at 15°C (59°F). I already tasted the beer after measuring the final gravity. And it tasted pretty nice already. I am really excited how this beer tastes like after a maturation step. By the way, the terminal gravity was 4.2°P. Stay tuned for the tasting results.

06/09/12: Tasting

#8 Bavarian Pilsner

Eureka, todays post is about my first attempt to brew a Pilsner style beer. Unfortunately, another recipe from the dark ages without useful tasting notes… Anyway, the following recipe is a straight forward approach for a Pilsner recipe. I went with Wyeast’s #2206 Bavarian Lager yeast and did the fermentation a bit higher than usual bottom fermenting temperatures. I brewed this particular batch in winter of 2007 when my cellar was at around 14°C (57°F). Today I know that the yeast I chose can be indeed used at higher temperatures without any inappropriate esters and such. But back then, just a lucky guess. Lets go through the recipe.

Recipe: Bavarian Pilsner
Numbers: Volume [L] 27 (7.1 gal)
Original gravity 12°P
Terminal gravity 3.3°P
Color Around 8 EBC
ABV 4.7 %
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 4.65 kg
Carapils (4 EBC) 0.2 kg
Acidified malt (5 EBC) 0.14 kg
Hops: Tettnanger (5.2% AA) 17 g and boil for 70 min
Magnum (14.8% AA) 17 g and boil for 70 min
Tettnanger (4.1% AA) 17 g and boil for 3 min
Yeast: #2006 Bavarian Lager
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 18 L (4.8 gal), sparge: 18 L (4.8 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @45°C (113°F), 20 min @ 43°C (109°F), 30 min @ 63°C (145°F), 30 min @ 71°C (160°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 70 min
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 14°C (57°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary None
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2.5 (bottled at 4.5°P)
Maturation time > 3 weeks

02/17/07: Brew day number eight begins. All went according to the protocol above. I had nearly 27 L at the end of the brew day and pitched a package of Wyeast’s #2006 Bavarian Lager in there.

Sparging process

Looking back, this was probably a underpitched wort for sure. Anyway, I then left the fermenter at 14°C (57°C) and then bottled the beer with a gravity of 4.5°P to have just enough sugars for the carbonation. The forced fermentation test finished at a gravity of 3.3°P. This technique is called “Grünschlauchen” in German. It means that you bottle the beer at the exact moment where there is just enough sugars left for the carbonation process. In my case, bottled the beer with a gravity of 4.5°P. The remaining 1.2°P (4.5°P minus the gravity of the forced fermentation test) would be enough for the carbonation. There are several reasons why I do not use this Grünschlauchen method anymore. One difficulty here is to catch the right moment to bottle the beer. Another one is the lacking secondary fermentation or maturation process. Nowadays, I alway go through a secondary fermentation and bottle with either an addition of sugar or use wort. Way easier!

After bottling the beer, I stored it for several weeks before I tasted it for the first time. This time, I have some tasting notes. What a treat! Not the bests, but at least some notes. The beer had a nice white head and a yellow color. Light haziness. The aroma was very hoppy and nice. The flavor was again hoppy and some bitterness detectable. All in all a very easy drinkable beer.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how old the beer was as I did the tasting. As I read through the tasting notes now, the descriptions I made are very typical for a Pilsner beer. I therefore assume that this beer tasted like a typical Pilsner beer indeed. Cheers!

#50 The Folly Flanders Brown

Eureka, its time for another recipe. This particular recipe is batch number 50 so far. I chose to brew a Flanders Brown Ale for this occasion because I really like this particular style very much. I will celebrate this milestone with at least a glass of Rodenbach Grand Cru poured from a draft (although it is not a Flanders Brown but I don’t care about that). Man am I lucky…. my favorite bar managed to get a keg of Rodenbach’s Grand Cru and will put it on tap soon. Can’t wait to try it. However, this post is about a recipe for a Flanders Brown. There is one beer I never had so far but heard so much about it. I am talking about La Folie from New Belgium. This beer inspired me to make something similar to the La Folie. And this led my to the La Folie Clone recipe from No Limit Brewing. And I more or less used the posted recipe there and made some minor changes (some of them were not intended…). Lets go through the recipe:

Recipe: The Folly Brown Ale
Numbers: Volume [L] 41 (10.8 gal)
Original gravity 15.7°P
Terminal gravity N/A
Color Around 24 EBC
ABV >7 %
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 1.0 kg
Pale malt (6.5 EBC) 7.0 kg
Munich malt (14.5 EBC) 1 kg
Cara Munich 2 (120 EBC) 0.8 kg
Cara Munich 3 (120 EBC) 0.4 kg
Oat flakes 0.4 kg
Hops: Willamette (5.6% AA) 71 g and boil for 60 min
Yeast: #3763 Roeselare Blend/ #1581 Belgian Stout and dregs from various sour beers (see below)
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 28 L (7.4 gal), sparge: 44 L (11.6 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @68°C (154°F), 60 min @ 68°C (154°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 60 min
Fermentation: Primary 14 days @ 20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenters
Secondary 1 year @ 20°C (68°F) in various fermenters and add 56 g of medium toasted French oak chips for 22 weeks
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2-2.5 vol
Maturation time Months to years

Collecting the wort

04/07/12: Brew day number 50 begins. I prepared all the malts for milling and as I started milling I asked myself, why Pilsner malt is used as a base malt for such a recipe. I then went back to the protocol and had to notice, that I prepared Pilsner malt instead of the Pale malt… Fortunately enough, I only milled 1 kg of Pilsner malt already and so I replaced the remaining Pilsner malt with the Pale malt as originally planed… Luckily, all the other steps went according to the protocol. Iodine test was negative after resting for one hour and so I proceeded to the sparging process. I then sparged until the wort’s gravity was approximately 2°P and then stopped collecting. I then boiled the wort for one hour with the addition of the hops and cooled the wort down and split the wort between two fermenters to have enough head space.

The original gravity was 15.7°P and the volume 41 L. The original recipe from No Limit Brewing called for a 16°P wort. So close enough.

Because one package of Wyeast’s Roeselare blend was not enough to ferment 41 L of wort, I decided to pitch some of Wyeast’s #1581 Belgian Stout yeast cake from a previous batch as well to ensure a healthy primary fermentation. The Belgian yeast should not have a big influence on the aroma and flavor of the beer since the beer is going to mature for some time. The only impact the yeast can have on the beer is the attenuation level. The Belgian yeast has an attenuation level of 70- 85% (as stated by Wyeast). A high attenuation level would leave less fermentable sugars left for any other bacteria or yeasts.

04/21/12: Measured gravity was 4.2°P. Racked the beer into three different glass carboys and left one share in a plastic fermenter. I did so to test the influence of my plastic fermenter on the oxygen transfer. Some say that the plastic fermenters tend to increase the oxygen in the beer due to the high oxygen permeability of the plastic itself. I will see how the beer in the plastic fermenter turns out compared to one from a glass fermenter (as a control). I then added dregs from a Girardin Gueuze to one glass carboy, and dregs from a 3 Fonteinen Geuze to another. I now have three different fermentations in glass. One, without any dregs, acts as a control to compare the effects of oxygen and to test the complexity of the Roeselare Blend on its own. The two others with the dregs are to check the effects of the dregs. Simple as that. I will leave these fermenters in my cellar at roughly 15-20°C (58-68°F) for a while and will add some wood chips later on.

05/05/12: Had to check the fermenters. The smell between the different fermenters is already different. The fermenters without any dregs smell rather clean and fruity, the other ones with the Girardin and 3 Fonteinen dregs smell quite funky already. There were some white bubble spots on the surfaces. Can’t wait to see some pellicles in the next weeks/months.

07/22/12: Added 80 g of Medium Toasted French oak chips to the four fermenters in total.

#47 Smashed Pumpkin Ale

Eureka, todays post is all about roasting pumpkin, spices and beer. And it all begun with the idea to use a pumpkin from my garden and make a beer with it. I did some research about pumpkin beers and came across Steve DellaSala’s post about brewing a pumpkin beer. And the following recipe is more or less the same as Steve’s recipe:

Recipe: Smashed Pumpkin Ale
Numbers: Volume [L] 18.9 (5 gal)
Original gravity 16.2°P
Terminal gravity 6.3°P
Color Around 16 EBC
ABV >5.5 %
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 3.0 kg
Carapils (4 EBC) 0.2 kg
Munich malt (14.5 EBC) 0.5 kg
Vienna malt (8 EBC) 0.5 kg
Crystal (120 EBC) 0.5 kg
Pumpkin roasted 2.0 kg
Hops: Columbus (15% AA) 8.7 g and boil for 90 min
Willamette (5.6% AA) 13.4 g and boil for 20 min
Cascade (5.9% AA) 13.5 g and boil for 20 min
Cascade (5.9% AA) 13.5 g and boil for 2 min
Nutmeg, cinnamon 0.5 spoon of nutmeg, 1 spoon of cinnamon and boil for 90 min
Nutmeg, cinnamon 0.5 spoon of nutmeg, 1 spoon of cinnamon and boil for 20 min
Nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander 1 spoon of nutmeg, 1 spoon of cinnamon, 1 spoon of coriander and boil for 2 min
Yeast: #1056 American Ale
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 12 L (3.2 gal), sparge: 17 L (4.5 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @74°C (165°F), 60 min @ 74°C (165°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 90 min
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Secondary 14 days @ 20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2.5 (carbonated with table sugar)
Maturation time > 3 weeks

03/10/12: The pumpkin brew day begins. All started with the preparation of the pumpkin. I used a Musque de Provence which grew happily in my back garden last year. I chopped the whole pumpkin into dices and had 2 kg of pumpkin. I then roasted the dices at 180°C (356°F) in my oven for one hour and let them cool down. The dices were pretty small and dry after roasting for one hour. The mash went great, iodine test was negative after resting for one hour and the sparging was rather fast. I then added the first addition of the hops as well as the pumpkin dices as soon as the wort begun to boil. All the other hops and spices were added as mentioned in the recipe above. I used freshly ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon and ground coriander. The smell was pretty intense during the boil and the boil looked very funny with all the pumpkin on top (see picture on the right). But the fun was not over yet. I then transferred the wort into my whirlpool kettle and gave the mash a stir to let the hops and other debris settle to the bottom. I then begun with the cooling of the wort. Unfortunately, the valve of the whirlpool kettle plugged several times due to the massive amount of debris from the pumpkin. The pumpkin dices broke apart during the boil and formed kind of fibrous particles. And these particles cloaked the valve and cooler several times. I tried to get the wort running again for several times and finally lost my patience. I then just dumped the whole stuff into the fermenter with all the debris (hops, pumpkin, spices and the hot break material) and hoped to get rid of all the stuff as I rack the beer to the secondary fermenter. I then added some 1056 American Ale yeast and the fermentation begun.

03/17/12: Transferred the beer into a secondary fermenter. There was a lot of trub in the fermenter. And I decided to leave the trub in there and just rack the clear wort above the sediment. I therefore lost a lot of the beer… I guess this is the price you have to pay if you leave all the debris in the wort.

03/31/12: The beer now matured for two weeks and I bottled it with the addition of sugar and fresh yeast. I used half a package of a Windsor dry yeast to ensure the proper carbonation of the beer. There is no reason why I went with this particular yeast. It was just in my refrigerator and I had no use for it in the near future. The bottles will now carbonate for another week and I will let them mature for some time before a first tasting.

Now, the recipe itself was really interesting to brew. But the amount of debris makes it really difficult to handle. I can’t imagine how the sparging would be if the pumpkin is added during the mash. If I would do this brew again, I would try to get rid of the debris somehow. Maybe use a filter, maybe use a bag for the pumpkin. Anyway, I am really looking forward to taste this beer. Stay tuned!

08/06/2013: Posted the tasting notes