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Alt - How To?

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MAH

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I've decided that this year I'll have a bash at making an Alt. Having never been to Dusseldorf and sampled this beer I'm relying upon what I've read. I've read the relevant section from Ray Daniels and the 2002 article from BYO, plus a number of other online articles. I'm OK with the bittering and fermentation regimes, but there seems to be a lot of contradictory information on grain bill and mash schedule, so some hlep here would be appreciated.

In particular I've read that the commercial versions rely almost entirely on Pils malt with maybe up to 20% Munich. Many homebrewers suggest a much higher proportion of Munich. I'm guessing that these homebrewers are much like me and never tasted the real stuff. Anyone with an informed palate who can make a suggestion on the base malt and speciality malt ratio?

Also it's not quite clear if this beer is decocted like lagers. Some yes, some say no.

Is there a definitive answer or at least an extremely reliable source for these questions?

Cheers
MAH
 

neonmeate

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Hi Mah, i went to dsseldorf and did the Crawl a couple of years back, came back to australia with the overriding goal of brewing something like Uerige which was fantastic.
Now alts tend to provoke a lot of self-righteousness on forum posts about what is authentic and what isnt, but the truth is any way you can find (within the reinheitsgebot that is) of making a light amber to copper beer with a light body is ok. some breweries use all pils, tiny amounts of crystal + black malt or sinamar (black malt concentrate), some do in fact use all munich, some use a bit of munich and the rest pils, etc. etc. anyway i've tried a few variants and i have to say the 1/3 munich 1/3 vienna 1/3 pils was the best (although i did enjoy the all munich - although was too malty i think). the idea is you want maltiness but not stickiness like a bock. most of them arent very roasty but uerige had a real dry charcoal edge that i loved. so it depends what you like.
apparently VERY few alts are decocted anymore - i dont think zum uerige is anymore. but go for your life, it does add nice maillard flavours and improves efficiency, so why not i say.

hopswise, spalt is insisted on as "The" alt hop by most homebrewers but I like a mix of hallertau and perle. tettnang and saaz, hersbrucker, mittelfrh etc and even northern brewer also work. depends what you like. i like to mix it up - all one hop can get a bit boring IMO
most alts dont have much hop aroma but one of the best ones, Zum Schlssel, had HEAPS of hop aroma - smelt like a mix of hallertau and saaz or something to me - quite perfumey.
the usual consensus is that hop flavour in this style is a result of one bittering addition with stacks of low alpha hops. while this is one way you can ddo it, ive also had good results using a smaller amount (for the same IBU) of northern brewer for bittering and adding in perle or hersbrucker or something spicy at 15'.

yeastwise they all work - the Whitelabs klsch is good, wyeast 1007 tasty although sulfury, european ale is really sweet (so works better with a more fermentable grist eg like all pils and a bit of black, with some melanoidin for maltiness), and the whitelabs american hefeweizen is also good (it's reputed to be from uerige originally).
cool fermentation is the way to go, although some alts like Schumacher are very fruity. cant say i liked them though.
a month of cold conditioning REally helps too, especially with the more sulfury yeasts.

good luck!
 

MAH

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Just pushing this one back to the top to see if anyone else has some insights.

PS Thanks Neonmeate, that's the type of information I was looking for.

Cheers
MAH
 

warrenlw63

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IIRC Schumacher is the Alt brewer that uses 100% Munich in it's grainbill. Once again just guessing but I think that they have it specifically kilned.

Did have the Classic Styles book but I can't find the bloody thing at the moment.

Prost!! :beerbang:

Warren -
 

Backlane Brewery

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MAH, while looking at Warren's BYO link on high gravity, I did a quick search of their site- link here has some stuff, first two seem like they are on point.
Never tasted one myself either, may have some reading to do.
cheers

BLB
 

jayse

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Afternoon all,
I too was unsure about the way to go about alt because of the conflicting data.
One side says no more than 30% munich and one says its impossible to use too much munich malt in it.

I ended up going with the too much is never enough approach and it is unreal, how close to the german ones i have know idea.

With the attenuation i found even if you aim for 1.015 the beer will still be as dry as I think its meant to be. Because you mash so low my theory is the different attenuations for 1338 and 1007 are closer together were as if you mashed higher 1007 would consume more of the complex sugars than 1338, that is just a unproven theory either way the results support it. Mashed at 64c i spilt a 50 litre batch with both yeast and got the same attenuation with both.
The better beer was the 1338 but it was pretty hard to tell them apart untill i got down to the last half keg of each drinking them side by side.
By the end i picked the one i did with 1338 was maybe the better by a bees dick.
I did one with a american yeast 008 east coast, i think the yeast was too neutral and didn't highlight the malt as much as the real ones. It didn't really do much for the hops either, if anything maybe it highlighted the water!
After trying quite a few brewers alt(theres been a lot) i think everyone pretty well making them the same at 80% munich and spicy hops are a must.
I use weyerman munich II for most 10% pils, 1-5% carafa.

You'll get hooked on ALT once you make one. :chug:

Jayse
 

Batz

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Too true Jayse

I sampled Jayses ALT and was hooked !! , I have now brewed several and it's my favourite beer

Love ALTs

Batz
 

kitkat

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FWIW, YMMV, usual disclaimers:

BYO recipe:
http://www.byo.com/recipe/959.html

BYO Alt description from a guy who visited Alt breweries in Germany:
http://www.byo.com/feature/856.html
(recipe at the bottom)

I quote:
"The base malt is German pilsner, while the addition of Munich malt at 5 to 20 percent will lend a mild sweetness and add some color. Most Dsseldorfer alts include a small percentage of CaraMunich (5 percent) and black or chocolate malt (1 to 2 percent). "
 

kitkat

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fair enough, i thought so, but I thought I might as well give the direct links - and also a couple of posters seem to advise to use way more munich than what an alt is really designed with. It's probably a very good beer, I don't doubt that, but not necessarily a real alt :)
 

Ross

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Batz said:
Too true Jayse

I sampled Jayses ALT and was hooked !! , I have now brewed several and it's my favourite beer

Love ALTs

Batz
[post="50493"][/post]​

Any chance of the recipe Batz/Jayse?? :D :D
 

neonmeate

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kitkat said:
fair enough, i thought so, but I thought I might as well give the direct links - and also a couple of posters seem to advise to use way more munich than what an alt is really designed with. It's probably a very good beer, I don't doubt that, but not necessarily a real alt :)
[post="50549"][/post]​
he talks about only using 5% caramunich, says most homebrewers put too much crystal in, then gives a recipe with way over 10%!
 

kitkat

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FWIW, an extract recipe (that fits within the guidelines as found in QBrew), given to me by another brewer, that I intend to try out this week-end:

3kg light malt extract - I'll use 1.5 light and 1.5 amber for color
0.5kg munich malt extract - I'll use 0.5Kgs Morgans chocolate liquid extract (made of 80% munich), as I don't know of liquid munich extract
30g northern brewer hops @ 60min
10-15g spalt or tetnang hops@10min
1007 german ale yeast

Can also add some caramunich malt (about 100-125g).

As I said, I haven't tried it, it just sounds nice. There are a few AG recipes on the cat's meow for example.

It might need irish moss @ 15, from what I've seen in other alt recipes, given the yeast used.
 

warrenlw63

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If you read a lot of the Classic Styles books. The Altbier one applies here too. They always seem to advocate about 500g of Crystal per US 5 gallon batch. Way too much.

There's a recipe in the Mild Ale book by David Sutula that calls for wait for it... 1.7kg of crystal in a 5 gallon batch for an 19th century mild with an O.G. of 1.058 !! :eek:

I used to go crazy with crystal malts but soon realised the finished beer winds up a little on the strange side with too much. Hops really have to fight the sweetness. Good rule of thumb is to halve the amount some of the books are quoting.

Warren -
 

neonmeate

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warrenlw63 said:
There's a recipe in the Mild Ale book by David Sutula that calls for wait for it... 1.7kg of crystal in a 5 gallon batch for an 19th century mild with an O.G. of 1.058 !! :eek:

Warren -
[post="50565"][/post]​
oh my god!
that would be scary.

one day i really want to try brewing some of the porters in wheeler's CAMRA guide with 2kg chocolate malt!
 

warrenlw63

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I'll scare you even more Neonmeate. Don't get be wrong. It's a good read. It's just that the recipes are most probably out to buggery.

Check this out. He's got one recipe that calls for 1kg of CaraPils !!!! :blink:

O.G. of beer is 1.066. Funny part is he thinks the F.G. will be 1.019 with all that CarPils I doubt it.

Warren -
 

BJCP Education Director

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Ive won a few gold medals and the 2 most important things that most people dont know is 1) use a lager yeast and treat it like lager and 2) decotion. If you follow both of these your alt will be much much better.
 
J

Jovial_Monk

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Neonate, I brewed the Castle Eden porter out the CAMRa book. 800g choc malt. Cold steeped.

Was yummy!

Jovial Monk
 

jayse

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BJCP Education Director said:
snipped out>
1) use a lager yeast
[post="50665"][/post]​
can you post any references you have there, I am not convinced it is a number one important thing when its not the way it is ussually done.



Jovial_Monk said:
snipped>
Was yummy!


[post="50690"][/post]​
Yummy! :blink: :blink: :blink:
You been reading to many pooh bear stories? :huh:

Jayse
 

wee stu

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BJCP Education Director said:
1) use a lager yeast and treat it like lager
[post="50665"][/post]​
Ah the wondrous vagaries of BJCP guidelines :D . And meaningless categories such as category 7 - Amber Hybrid Beers.

Are you thinking perhaps of style guideline 7A Northern German Altbiers?, such that:
"Most Altbiers produced outside of Dusseldorf are of the Northern German style. Most are simply moderately bitter brown lagers. Ironically "alt" refers to the old style of brewing (i.e. making ales), which makes the term "Altbier" somewhat inaccurate and inappropriate. Those that are made as ales are fermented at cool ale temperatures and lagered at cold temperatures (as with Dusseldorf Alt)"

I think you must be, because I don't think your comment would meet much favour under style guideline 7C for Dusseldorf Altbier:
"A well balanced, bitter yet malty, clean, smooth, well-attenuated copper-colored German ale....The traditional style of beer from Dusseldorf. "Alt" refers to the "old" style of brewing (i.e. making top-fermented ales) that was common before lager brewing became popular. Predates the isolation of bottom fermenting yeast strains, though it approximates many characteristics of lager beers. The best examples can be found in brewpubs in the Altstadt ("old town") section of Dusseldorf."

If you follow your guideline, you may make an interesting, even medal winning, beer. Whether you've made an alt, is a more debatable point. Both to the purist, and it would seem, to BJCP style guidelines.

If we head back to the very beginning of this thread, I understood MAH to be seeking after an authentic Dusseldorf Alt.
Admittedly he is trying to recreate the style, with as much authenticity as his home brewery will allow, and not seeking after prizes in competitions.
 

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