The manly brew of which I speak is of course altbier, which as everybody and his uncle knows translates as "old beer", as opposed to the pale lager which was in the mid 19th century, new. I could argue here that 19th century pale lager was the craft beer of the day, but that would be too much fun.
Ever since I started homebrewing, I have wanted to make an altbier. As I am prone to do, I spent hours poring over style descriptions, the websites of alt luminaries such as Schumacher and Zum Uerige and various other media in order to get a real handle on how my project would shape up. From the outset I knew that I wanted to brew a straight up alt, not a sticke, doppelsticke or any other derivation thereon. I wanted a reasonably sessionable beer, call me crazy but I actively like drinking.
The one sticking point though has been the absence of a refrigeration chamber for lagering the beer in. Recently though I had a idea, and yes it hurt. I quite often buy 2.5 gallon bottles of water for brewing with, and so I wondered if I would be able to fit the 2.2 gallons of beer that I get out of a batch, once it is off the trub, into one such bottle.
As you can see, the hole in the bottle is in a slightly awkward place, so with a measured 1 gallon jug, I poured 2.3 gallons of water into a used bottle and hey presto, it comes to about half an inch below the hole. Suddenly I found myself with a surplus of lagering vessels, but still no refrigeration chamber. Then again the power of the mind fell upon me, with excruciating vehemence this time, I have a fridge! Any spare water in the bottles after brewing, I would store in the fridge, simply turn the bottle upside down and it should work fine, so I put the bottle in the fridge, and as you can see, I have a viable lagering system! Well, viable for doing altbier and kölsch, which is just as well as they are styles I really like.
Having solved my little lagering issue, I finally got round to designing a recipe for the beer itself, and here it is:
- 50% Bohemian Pilsner Malt
- 49% Munich Malt
- 1% Carafa III
- 31 IBU of Spalt Select for 90 minutes
- 4 IBU of Spalt Select for 20 minutes
- Wyeast 1007 German Ale liquid yeast
- OG - 1.048
- FG - 1.012
- SRM - 13 (copper to red)
- ABV - 4.8%