Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kottbusser - German/Polish White Beer with Treacle and Honey

With the holidays coming up soon I decided that I need to get brewing something that would mesh well with all the food I'm planning on absolutely stuffing myself with. A couple years ago, I brewed up a batch of a historical beer style called Kotbusser. At the time I had been reading Radical Brewing, and Mosher's description of the style really got me interested. I googled around at that time and there really wasnt any other references to it. Even now, there still isn't much out there about the style either. It really makes me wonder a bit where he dug up the info on it to begin with..

At any rate Kotbusser is a German/Polish white beer that relies heavily on wheat and oats, with a small addition of both molasses and honey. To me that combination sounds wonderful! A Witbier-esque grain bill with a hefe yeast, and a pinch of molasses and honey for flavor. To me at least that combo of flavors and aromas instantly makes the think of Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie!

During my first attempt with the style, for the most part I went with Mosher's recipe (with a few grain bill tweaks). After everything was said and done, the beer was interesting but the flavors didn't mesh well at all. Looking back at the recipe, I think the biggest issue was the suggested hopping schedule. There were quite a bit of flavor and aroma hops, and I think that the IBU's were a bit too high. For my tastes, the combination of too many IBU's, the molasses twang and yeasty phenolics was quite harsh on the palate. Eventually the keg I kicked the keg, but it stuck around for quite some time, and made me very hesitant to rebrew the style.

I have become a much better brewer since the last time I made this beer and I'm at a point where I think I could go back and fairly easily fix the problems that I had the first time around. One of the biggest improvements to the beer I hope to make is giving it a sweeter base.Im betting that a hint of sweetness could really help blend and accentuate the molasses and clove from the yeast. Tying those flavors together would really help make the all of the other flavors in the beer a bit more harmonious. I also think that a moderately high mash temp will help to really thicken the beer and leave it velvety smooth, and will compliment the honey and molasses.

I also decided after some further experiences with molasses that I really don't ever want to use it in beer again. Once fermented out it has an extremely metallic taste that really ruins a beer for me. However tasting and playing around with treacle has me much more optimistic about getting that molassesy flavor in a beer. Some have argued with me that Treacle is simply molasses with cane syrup, and for some brands that could be the case. However, I don't think I will ever be persuaded, as the flavor difference between the two once fermented is immense. I have even gone as far as mixing cane syrup into molasses in an attempt to recreate the flavors of black treacle and it doesn't come close. There are tons of discussions about the difference on discussion boards across all types of hobbies, and even wikipedia articles on both treacle and molasses.

There is a lot of dissension about this topic, and while I will admit the flavor of the two are similar, especially when not fermented, there are distinctly different in a finished beer. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to it, but fermented molasses has a strongly metallic edge and black treacle does not. Ive never used or tasted the Ragus Treacles linked above, but I'm guessing that its not quite the same as Tate & Lyles. In the end though I will never be convinced that they are the same, and I probably wont ever use molasses or the Ragus treacle in a beer, to me its just not worth ruing a batch.





Kotbusser the Guzzler (Name for some reason made me think of the Ghost Busters)
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
4.0Pilsner
2.75White Wheat
1.0Flaked Oats
0.25Honey Malt
7.5 ozMesquite Honey (after primary Ferm)
2.0 ozBlack Treacle (after primary Ferm)
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.75Fuggles (6.0%)60
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
155F1.0qt/lb60
170F1.75qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastHefeweizen IV WLP380 (1L Starter)
Stats
6.0galOG1043 - 1047(sugar additions)
85% effIBU14
7gal BoilFG---



Review - 12/20/2011 - Notes & Thoughts

3 comments:

Jeremy said...

Interesting batch for sure! I've never used treacle, nor do I dare weigh in on the debate, but I have used molasses and I completely agree on the metallic taste. I can't stand it. Mesquite honey is definitely a bold move. I've never brewed with it, but I love the stuff on bread.

Question, are you going to boil the honey and treacle in a bit of water, cool it down and pitch in secondary?

Also, how is the tapioca IPA coming along?

Ryan said...

Jeremy
I love mesquite honey, especially raw unprocessed stuff, Im really hoping a few hints of those flavors help to add nuance to the beer

As far as how I added the Treacle/Honey, I warmed them up so they pour, measured them and dumped them directly into the fermentor.

As to the IPA, I havent looked at it since it was brewed (Im notoriously slow) but Ive gotta get it in a keg soon so I can brew some beer and make a lot of cider

Jeffrey Crane said...

I concur your treacle and molasses experiment. I am now hooked on black treacle to provide nice dark fruit complexity in both Belgian and British beers.

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