Thursday, April 2, 2009

HönischBrau Helles

The Story

To my surprise, the Pilsner lager that I recently brewed back in February is getting low. One of the problems with lighter colored beers is that 1) they're so easy to drink and 2) everybody likes them, so when someone comes over and you offer them a beer....they want it goes quickly. This is a good thing actually and this is one of my favorite styles so I'd like to keep brewing it to improve the recipe as I always learn something from each batch to tweak the next time. So, now that I realized I'd be out of Pilsner soon I had to come up with something to replace it. After looking at what Ingredients I had on hand I decided to brew something with what I had available. I had enough of the right ingredients to do either a less hoppy German Pilsner or a Munich Helles. The decision on what to brew came down to the yeast available to me, since I wanted to use the yeast cake from the Oktoberfest which just finished in the primary fermenter. This is a Bavarian Lager yeast which is best suited for malt focused German lagers. Since I wanted to try a different yeast strain for my next Pilsner and since I didn't have enough hops to make a hoppy version of Pilsner I decided to go with the Munich Helles, which this yeast should work very well with.

The Recipe

I again wanted to keep the recipe simple and went with a pretty basic grain bill. Pilsner malt makes up 95% of the malt with German Light Munich malt making up the remaining 5%. This should make very pale beer with the the Munich malt addition mainly to give some extra maltiness that a decoction mash would bring without actually doing a decoction. German Hallertau hops were used at first wort and in 2 other small additions during the boil to give the beer a subdued but hopefully still noticeable low hop flavor and also enough bitterness to balance the malts sweetness. A final addition of Czech Saaz hops was added at the end to give a slight hop aroma to the beer. In order to make a beer this light, soft water must be used and 90% of the mash water was soft water filtered through reverse osmosis with some adjustment to Calcium content made by Calcium Chloride and Gypsum brewing salts. As you can see in the picture below, the color is very light with an original gravity reading around 1.052. This beer should be ready by the middle of May, just in time for the hopefully warmer weather as it should be a thirst quencher! The full recipe is posted below the picture.

HoenischBrau Helles

1-D Munich Helles
Author: Bob Hoenisch
Date: 4/2/2009

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

Size: 5.6 gal
Efficiency: 85.8%
Attenuation: 77.0%
Calories: 164.21 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.050 (1.045 - 1.051)

Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (1.008 - 1.012)

Color: 3.92 (3.0 - 5.0)

Alcohol: 5.0% (4.7% - 5.4%)

Bitterness: 20.6 (16.0 - 22.0)


9.0 lb Pilsner Malt
8.0 oz German Light Munich
1.0 oz Hallertau Hersbruck (3.5%) - added first wort, boiled 90 min
20 g Hallertau Hersbruck (3.5%) - added during boil, boiled 20.0 min
20.0 g Hallertau Hersbruck (3.5%) - added during boil, boiled 10.0 min
.5 oz Czech Saaz (2.5%) - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
1.0 ea WYeast 2206 Bavarian Lager


Ambient Air: 45.0 °F
Source Water: 55.0 °F
Elevation: 3500.0 ft

00:05:00 Mash in - Liquor: 5.0 gal; Strike: 158.59 °F; Target: 150.0 °F
01:05:00 Saccrification Rest - Rest: 60.0 min; Final: 148.6 °F
02:05:00 sparge - Sparge Volume: 5.0 gal; Sparge Temperature: 168.0 °F; Runoff: 6.77 gal

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ayinger - Altbairisch Dunkel

Another sampling from the Ayinger brewery that I got to try recently and really enjoyed was their Altbairisch Dunkel. The words Altbairisch Dunkel can be translated to mean "Old Bavarian dark Beer" and the style is a Munich Dunkel which is one of the original styles of dark lager beer brewed in Munich, Bavaria. This is a malt focused beer with just enough hops to overcome the sweetness of the malt with very little or no hop aroma or flavor detectable. Lager brewing is believed to began in Bavaria and this style evolved from years of brewing in that region. The water in this area has moderate alkalinity and bicarbonate content, which means it's somewhat hard, especially compared with the water to the northeast of this area in Bohemia. Harder water is better suited to brewing dark beers because of how the darker malts effect the water chemistry in the mash, so it is no surprise that this beer evolved in this area. The Ayinger version of this classic style is considered one of the best examples of a Munich Dunkel which is another reason that I wanted to try it. The beer is deep reddish brown color and although dark it is very clear. I've read that in Germany some breweries have an unfiltered version and the combination of malt and suspended yeast tastes like liquid bread! This one has a great malty flavor, but is not too sweet. The beer is not as thick as you might imagine because of the color and is easy to drink, definitely not a Bock, but a nice beer that would go well with a meal and you could drink a few of at a time. The Ayinger brewery is really moving up on my list of favorites and the Munich Dunkel style is now on my "to brew" list for the upcoming year!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oktoberfest/Märzen 2009

The Story

Well, I finally got around to brewing a traditional Oktoberfest beer today in hopes to have it ready for an Oktoberfest party this coming autumn. Traditionally, Oktoberfests are a Vienna/Märzen style lager, which means they are brewed in March and have a very long lagering period (6 months) before being ceremoniously tapped for the Oktoberfest celebtration in late September. These beers were originally stored in caves, which were cool, to keep them from warming and give them a long time to mature. The word lager can loosley be translated to "cold storage" in English and lager beers are fermented cold(45-50F) and stored cold(30-40F) for a period to allow the beer to "mature" or loose some of the off flavors that can develop in the young beer from fermentation. This removal of flavors developed by the yeast is why the malty and hoppy flavors are so noticable in lager beers, and why they are sometimes described as tasting clean. A 2-4 week lagering period is common for most pale lagers, while some Bock beers are lagered for several months to a year traditionally. The higher the alcohol content the longer a lagering period is required to rid the beer of off flavors generated by the yeast due to the greater strain on the yeast in a higher alcohol beer, which causes them to produce esters(flavor compounds). I'm not sure an Oktoberfest style really needs the long lagering period, but it is the tradition and I would like to try it out so we'll see how it goes. It will be hard not to sample this beer through the summer, but I'll have to be good and leave it alone until first cool days of next fall!

The Recipe

I devloped this recipe myself after reading up on the style from various sources. I like to keep things simple if possible and the more I read and hear from other brewers the more I think this is really the way to go. Some recipes seem to call for a little bit if everything with many ingredients in quantities so small that you could barely taste it or be able to discern it from the other ingredients. So I've been keeping my recipes as simple as possible lately and have been happy with the results. I was originally going to use Pilsner malt as the base, but afer reading some comments on the style I decided to go with Vienna as the base which makes sense since this style eveolved from the Vienna/Marzen style of lager. The Vienna Malt was about 85% of the grain bill and it will be nice to really get a taste for that malt in the finished product which should give it a biscuty flavor and an orange color. German Dark Munich Malt was used for the remainder of the barley which will give it some more maltiness and darken it into the proper color range. German Hallertau hops were added to the first wort to add flavor and bitterness. Hopefully just enougth to balance the sweetness of the malt and come through a bit in the beers taste. Czech Saaz hops were added in the final minute to give the beer a little bit of a spicy hop aroma, but hopfully just enough, with malt being the dominant aroma. Bavarian Lager Yeast (WY2206) was used to ferment the batch which was built up with a 2 liter starter. Basically, the barley malt, hops and yeast are all of German origin, or Czech for the Saaz hops to give this beer the most authentic taste possible. The water used was a 50/50 mix of my harder Dry Wolf spring water with soft Reverse Osmosis Culligan water to get the water into the proper "moderate" hardness/alkalinity range required for this style. The hydrometer sample in the picture below shows the original gravity at about 1.054 with the color right where I wanted! The full recipe is found below the picture.


3-B Oktoberfest/Märzen
Author: Bob Hoenisch
Date: 3/15/2009

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

Size: 5.55 gal
Efficiency: 83.38%
Attenuation: 77.8%
Calories: 178.9 kcal per 12.0 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.054 (1.050 - 1.057)

Terminal Gravity: 1.012 (1.012 - 1.016)

Color: 10.73 (7.0 - 14.0)

Alcohol: 5.51% (4.8% - 5.7%)

Bitterness: 21.8 (20.0 - 28.0)


9.0 lb Vienna Malt
1.5 lb German Dark Munich
47.0 g Hallertau Tradition (3.9%) - added first wort, boiled 60 min
1.0 oz Czech Saaz (2.5%) - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min


Ambient Air: 45.0 °F
Source Water: 55.0 °F
Elevation: 3500.0 ft

00:03:00 Mash in - Liquor: 3.49 gal; Strike: 162.97 °F; Target: 150.1 °F
01:03:00 Saccrification rest - Rest: 60.0 min; Final: 145.6 °F
02:03:00 Sparge - Sparge Volume: 6.25 gal; Sparge Temperature: 180.0 °F; Runoff: 6.65 gal
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.2

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dry Wolf IPA pt2

Well, the Dry Wolf IPA got racked to the secondary fermenter today after about 2 weeks of strong fermentation. The fermentation was so active on day 2 &3 that the krausen(foamy head that forms during fermentation) blew though the airlock and down the sides and I had to add a blow off tube. Here's a picture while siphoning the beer off the old yeast so it can settle out and clear for another week or two before kegging. It's on the cloudy side which is not a problem and to be expected as the the yeast strain used is not very flocculant.
A gravity reading taken showed 1.011, which means the calculated Alcohol by Volume (ABV) is at 7.82%. Once again a little higher than expected efficiency and better than expected attenuation by the yeast(pitched 2 packs of Safale US-05). A little higher than anticipated but not too much out of style. Actually this would put it into the lower end of the double IPA or Imperial IPA style so not really a problem.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ayinger Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest has always been one of my favorite styles. Just the name and the history behind the style is enticing. Autumn is already my favorite time of year as I'm usually tired of summer by its end and looking forward to the cooler days...fall colors and of course hunting season and spending time outdoors. Having a festival to celebrate this alone seems like a great idea to me!

From what I hear, the Oktoberfest celebration in Germany is really something to see and is an experience and that is one of the things that I absolutely must do in my lifetime. The beer, the food(pretzels and wurst!) and the atmosphere must really be something. Originally it was a multi day festival celebrating the marriage of a mad king(yes the one that built the castle that Disney is modeled after). But back to the beer...

Oktoberfest beer is a Vienna/Märzen style lager. This is an amber colored lager originally brewed in Vienna, Austria and adapted later by the brewers in Munich, Bavaria in Germany. The darker malts go well with the more alkaline/less soft water of southern Germany and Austria compared to the Pilsners of Bohemia. Märzen refers to the fact that this beer is traditionally brewed in March for release in the fall. Actually, alot of brewing was historically done in March in Germany because it was as late as they could reliable use the colder temperatures for lager brewing with warmer temperature ales...such as Hefeweizen being brewed in the summer months.

So, I'm planning to brew an Oktoberfest this month and give it the full 6 month fermentation/storage period for tapping at an Oktoberfest party this fall at our house. In researching the style I always like to try as many examples as I can and came across the Ayinger Oktoberfest at out local beer store. The Ayinger brewery is a private brewery in a small town (Aying) in Bavaria. I have liked the other Ayinger beers that I've tried so was looking forward to trying this one. The color was classic orange/copper color typical of Vienna/Marzen Lagers with a nice level of foam on the top. The taste is malty but balanced nicely with hops. The malt flavor is very bready or biscutlike most likely due to the use of Vienna malt. The hops are noticeable but not very upfront. This is a very easy drinking beer, which is a must since it comes by the liter stein at Oktoberfest celebrations. Actually, from what I've read and heard from folks who have been to Oktoberfest in Munich, over the past several years the beer that is served has become lighter in color and is now closer to a blend of Munich Helles and Maibock than the original Oktoberfest style. This is a shame since this is such a great style of beer. Hopefully mine will come out similar and true to style.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dry Wolf IPA

After running out of IPA right after our new years eve party, I knew I had to get another round brewing soon since it is one of my favorite styles of beer. It's one of the few styles and recipes that I have brewed several times already, even brewing up a batch for our wedding last June. So, I think I can actually say I have some experience with this single style and the recipe.

The recipe I use was originally based on a clone recipe for Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, although I don't think that I've ever really brewed it exactly to the details of the recipe and got by with whatever ingredients I had available to me.

This beer uses 100% Dry Wolf Spring Water, which is perfect for this style of beer since moderate hardness in the water works well to accentuate the hoppiness of the beer. I've been trying to get better at understanding water chemistry and beer and I did add some Gypsum(Calcium Sulfate) and Calcium Carbonate to the mash water. The Calcium addition is to get the mash into the proper PH range for the lighter colored grains that are used. The sulfate will create a sharper bitterness from the hops which is also important in this style.

The grain bill for the recipe is pretty simple. About 90% American 2-row barley malt with about a pound of Crystal malt for color and a half pound of CaraPils for body.

Hops are a big player in this style and there are plenty in this recipe. Chinook hops are used for the main bittering hop at the start of the boil and I actually tried first wort hopping with the Chinooks to get some extra aroma/flavor out of them as well. We'll see how that turns out. Some folk don't like the aroma/flavor of Chinook and use it mainly for bittering but other folks, including myself, like the aroma and flavor which can be almost pine-like at times. Cascade hops are used with 30 minutes left in the boil to add some bittering but also the citrusy flavor that cascade hops are so well known for. With 5 minutes left in the boil I added a blend of my remaining homegrown hops which included Chinook, Cascade and Centennial. This 5 minute addition is for hop flavor and aroma with little or no bitterness derived from these hops. This is a good place for homegrown hops since the actual bitterness or alpha acid level they have is not known and they will have a fresher flavor and aroma than store bought hops. Finally an addition of Centennial hops is added right as the flame is turned off at the end of the boil and allowed to steep in the wort through the cooling process, which mainly imparts hop aroma to the beer. Cascade, Centennial and Chinook are sometimes referred to as the C-hops because they are all fairly similar with differences in how much bitterness they impart on the beer. They are all known for a citrusy or almost grapefruit like aroma with Chinook almost tasting pine-like at times.

Here's a picture of the sparging process followed by the original gravity reading and the recipe data from Beer Tools Pro.

Dry Wolf IPA

14-B American IPA

Author: Bob Hoenisch

Date: 2/21/2009

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

style="font-size:12px;">Size: 5.26 gal
Efficiency: 76.4%
Attenuation: 77.0%
Calories: 233.33 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.070 (1.056 - 1.075)
Terminal Gravity: 1.016 (1.010 - 1.018)
Color: 11.16 (6.0 - 15.0)
Alcohol: 7.1% (5.5% - 7.5%)
Bitterness: 68.2 (40.0 - 70.0)

12.0 lb Standard 2-Row
12.0 oz 2-Row Caramel Malt 10L
4.0 oz 2-Row Caramel Malt 120L
.5 lb 2-Row Carapils® Malt
2.0 ea Fermentis US-05 Safale US-05
1.0 oz Chinook (11.1%) - added first wort, boiled 60 min
2.0 oz Cascade (6.3%) - added during boil, boiled 30.0 min
0.75 oz Homegrown C-Blend (8.0%) - added during boil, boiled 5.0 min
1.0 oz Centennial (8.0%) - steeped after boil


Ambient Air: 35.0 °F
Source Water: 55.0 °F
Elevation: 3500.0 ft
00:03:00 Mash in - Liquor: 4.49 gal; Strike: 165.15 °F; Target: 152.0 °F
01:03:00 Saccrification Rest - Rest: 60.0 min; Final: 150.0 °F
02:03:00 Sparge - Sparge Volume: 5.5 gal; Sparge Temperature: 190.0 °F; Runoff: 6.8 gal
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.2

Monday, February 16, 2009

American 2-row Barley

I was happy to receive the 50lb sack of American 2-row barley that I ordered today so that I can use it to brew an IPA when I got off midnight shifts this weekend. It's been about a year now since I upgraded to all-grain homebrewing and I really like getting to use the basic ingredients and knowing where it all comes from. Now that I have a grain mill I've been trying to buy my base malts in bulk to save money, have the freshest ingredients on hand and to have more control over the brewing process. Using authentic ingredients are as important in brewing as they are in cooking and winemaking and the malting process and 2-row barley varieties differ somewhat in other countries. So in order to make a authentic German beer it's not necessary but if possible I would like to use German malted barley, of which I have been using on my recent lager beers from a 55lb sack of Weyermann Pilsner malt from Bamberg Germany. Now you would think that since I live in one of the premier barley growing regions of the country (this portion of north central MT is also known as the "Golden Triangle" for its production of barley and wheat) that it would be easy to get some locally produced American 2-row barley malt, but that is not the case. Most of the barley grown around here is under contract to the big breweries like Anheuser-Busch (now in-bev) and Coors. There is a huge malting facility just outside of Great Falls that has a 200,000 ton capacity, but still there is no local barley malt to be found for me because all of this again is under contract to go to the big guys. So, I had to order my American malt from an online store in California to ship me 2-row barley that was malted in Vancouver Washington, which may or may not contain some Montana grown barley. Actually the Great Western Malting company claims to use malt from all over the Pacific NW including MT, so it is possible that some of the malt is locally grown, but I think the bulk of it is from Idaho. Anyway, I finally have my American 2-Row barley and will be formulating an IPA recipe over the next few days. but I will always be on the lookout for some way to get locally grown/malted barley.