Saturday, January 30, 2010

Schwarzbier Redux

Its that time of year in Phoenix, where the weather is cool and lagers are much easier to brew. Around this same time last year I brewed up my first schwarzbier and it turned out really well. I really liked the recipe, but I wanted to change a few key things about it to hopefully put it over the top.

1. More of a Munich malt presence

2. A bit sweeter, it was fairly dry last time

3. Decoction for Malt depth

The last beer was a very good beer, but it was a bit too pilsner-ish for me. I guess that wasn't a bad thing, as it turned out that way because that's exactly what I was shooting for at the time. Thinking more about it though I really wanted to show off the dark Munich malt a bit more. I really think that the breadiness of the malt should be accentuated in this beer.

To do that this year I decided to rely entirely on Dark Munich malt, instead of a 50/50 split with pils. I was planning on keeping the caramunich in there as well, but I forgot to get it in my last stop at the homebrew store and didn't remember until I was mashing in. I'm not sure how much that will effect the flavor of the beer yet, but it definitely left the wort a bit lighter colored than I was hoping. Its more of a very dark brown than black, not a deal breaker but a little different than I wanted.

Another change this year is a different yeast. Last year I used Saflager S23, which is a very good lager yeast. I love the simplicity of dry lager yeasts, two packs and you have a pitchable quantity! However S23 does leave a fairly dry beer in my experience with it, so I decided to use a much more malt-forward yeast (W34/70 Weihenstephaner). I've used the liquid version of this yeast many times and absolutely love it, this time however I ordered a couple dry packets of it from Midwest. I don't know if its normally produced in homebrew size packets, but it looks as though it might have been repackaged from a much larger size. I'm hoping the dry version produces the same profile as the liquid, if it does this will be my go to lager yeast in the future. This batch is also a large starter for subsequent batches - I planned on making at least one more lager with the cake and I may just have talked myself into two

I changed the hops a bit this year as well. Last time I used Mt Hood, and this year I switched out to Crystal. Now there isn't a whole lot of difference between the two (both are hallertau derived) but Ive found crystal to be a bit more floral and smoother overall. To top it off I happen to have a pound of crystal on hand. I have also come to really appreciate the lower alpha hops, I still like an American IPA full of C-type hops but Ive noticed a lot of benefits from using large quantities of low alpha hops. The most noticeable has been the effect on head stability.

Ever noticed how thick, velvety and long lasting that head is on your IPA? Its all those hops in there. Its counter intuitive, but all the hop oils actually promote head formation and retention, so by using a relatively larger amount of hops in the boil of this beer I hope to really accentuate the foam stability.

Schwarzbier Redux

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
9.0Dark Munich 20L (Weyermann)
0.3lb or 5ozCarafa III Special (cap)
Amt (oz)TypeTime (min)
2.25Crystal (3.3%)60
0.5Crystal (3.3%)20
1.0Crystal (3.3%)5
Mash Schedule
168FDecoction - 30min Boil15min - vorlauf
YeastSaflager W34/70 Weihenstephaner x 2
80% effIBU32
7gal BoilFG
Notes - As was done last time the carafa was added as a cap when sparging to minimize the roastiness in the beer; I planned on a triple decoction but got lazy and only did one to mashout, I did however do a fairly extended boil to get more maillard reactions out of it; yeast was rehydrated prior to pitching; beer has been fermented at 50F +/- 2F (10C)

Scwharzbier 1.0 - 1/14/2009 Recipe & Notes


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