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Recipe and fermentation advice for first lager brew (Munich Dunkel)

Discussion in 'General Brewing Techniques' started by Muz, 15/10/19.


  1. Muz

    Well-Known Member

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    Posted 15/10/19
    I’m looking to brew my first lager on the weekend. I had a smashing Munich Dunkel at Stomping Ground the other day and it’s inspired me to try the style myself. Looking around I’ve decided to go with this recipe from

    A couple of questions for this brew:

    1. The recipe calls for a step mash. My understanding from various blogs and podcasts is that modern malt is so highly modified these days that step mashing really isn't necessary. I’m thinking of just doing at single sac rest at 65.5C for 60 mins followed by a mash out at 76C. I shouldn’t have any issues with this right? Beersmith indicates the OG will be exactly the same
    2. I notice the Melanoidin and Carafa II are added when I add the mash out water. I haven’t seen or done this before. What’s the theory here?
    3. I’ve had to sub the yeast as LHBS doesn’t stock any of the suggested variety’s. I’m thinking Wyeast Munich Lager 2308 should be a good sub. Any differences here or things I should know about this yeast?
    4. Finally, since I’ve never fermented a lager before, how should I approach fermentation temps? I was thinking a couple of weeks at the recommended temp on the back of the packet, diacyl rest for three days at (?) degrees higher then (?) weeks lagering at (?) degrees then transfer to keg for carbonation. Any helps with how to approach this would be awesome.

    Thanks in advance for your advice
    Last edited: 15/10/19
  2. wide eyed and legless

    Pro Pro

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    Mulgrave Victoria
    Posted 15/10/19
    Since the recipe and instructions are coming from Gordon Strong follow them to the letter.
  3. keine_ahnung

    Likes Received:
    Mechanical Engineer turned german Braumeister
    Munich, Germany
    Home Page:
    Posted 16/10/19
    Hi Muz,
    cool to hear you're keen to try one of my favourite styles.
    I'm a Braumeister in Bavaria and brew bavarian lagers for a living in a traditional brewery.

    A few points on that recipe based on professional experience and training.

    1. In order to reeeeeeally get that malty, biscuity flavour and mouthfeel out of a Dunkles, you kinda need to do a decoction. However on a homebrew level this is pretty difficult. Dunkles malt has inherently weaker enzyme activity (more of them are damaged due to the more intensive kilning/roasting process during malting), which makes it pretty important to have a decent mash schedule. Otherwise you run the risk of your attenuation being too low (i.e. FG too high).

    I do quite like his suggested mash schedule. Mash-in at 55°C will still be pleasing the Endopeptidasen (just) -> higher molecular proteins -> good for head retention
    From 55-60°C the Exopeptidasen will be happy -> lower molecular proteins -> free amino acids (yeast nutrient!!!) -> better fermentation.
    63°C -> ß-Amylase (important for a good FG)
    70°C -> a little bit cooler than usual for the a-Amylase rest, but that'll aid in avoiding too much residual sweetness.

    2. Mash it all at once. One could argue that the darker/roasted malts don't need too much time due to a very high level of conversion etc etc, and that the husks will bring more tannins etc in to the beer.
    However I'll counter this argument with: a) it's just such a small percentage of the malt-bill that it's pretty irrelevant, especially considering how harsh a time the husks have already had during malting.
    b) I know of two breweries who have award winning dunkels, and they mash-in like usual.

    3/4. Finally!!! Someone out there giving decent advice on fermentation temps for lagers!!!! :D
    I would slightly adjust his fermenation/conditioning/lagering program, depending on the "technology" you have at hand, but his advice is definitely better than lots out there.

    I'd pitch at 8°C, with ferm-temp at 9-10°C max.
    If possible, it makes sense to rack before lagering. Get as much of the "less-vital" yeast out of the beer as possible.
    Like he said, lager it at 0°C for (4 to) 6 weeks. Man, I almost love this guy just for having said 6 weeks of lagering.
    It almost breaks my heart every time I hear someone say "yeah man, I brewed a lager beer, fermented it at 15°C, lagered it for a week..and it was really good"
    Maybe good compared to tooheys new, but still horrible compared to the true potential of a properly and carefully brewed lager.

    Good luck with the brew!

    Oh!! and the other thing that caught my eye in his recipe: RO water. Sorry, but this is a bit of a contradiction of the beer style. The Munich Dunkles was "invented" and became so popular back in the day, largely because the Munich water is so horribly hard. Dark beers are much more suited to harder water, than light coloured beers. And vice versa, harder water is more suitable if brewing darker beers.
    For your very first batch, I'd just run with your usual water. Get everything else in your brewing process nailed, and then if you really want, you could potentially optimise your water a bit.

    Oh, and if you're ever in Germany. Do yourself a favour.... scrap his list of "good" dunkel beers, get out of Munich and go to pretty much any small private brewery in the countryside. That's where you'll get the best, freshest beer.
    Last edited: 17/10/19
    trex_sami, razz, akx and 1 other person like this.

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