Sunday, October 3, 2010


This is another style of beer that originated in Germany, this one near Düsseldorf. It is truly an ancient style, but only got its current name when the Pilsner revolution hit in the mid 1800s. Alt literally means old, and the name was given to distance itself from the new lagers that were sweeping Europe at the time. It is argued by some that this is the oldest continuously brewed style of beer in existence.

Alt is copper or amber in color with a white to off white creamy head. It is usually brewed with Pilsner malt base and smaller amounts of Munich and Vienna malts. It is fermented on the cool side (55°F - 65°F) which gives it lager like qualities. Also contributing to the lager quality is longer than normal conditioning at lower temps. However, a top fermenting ale yeast is used. One key characteristic of an Alt is a higher than average hop rate. The style range is 30-60 IBUs.

This alt was brewed using a traditional 2 step decoction mash. This was how brewing was done before the invention of the thermometer and malting of barley was less consistent. It is essentially the removing and boiling of portions of the mash (the mixture of crushed grain and water). When the portion of boiled mash is returned to the main mash it serves to raise the overall temperature. Knowing the volume to pull out and boil brought consistency to the mashing process and lead to repeatability in brewing even though they had no idea what the temperature of the mash was.

This beer leaves out the pilsner malt and uses munich malt and pale malt in almost equal proportions as well as a tiny bit of debittered black malt for color. It uses all German hops and yeast for an authentic recreation. The IBUs are on the low side so the next time this gets brewed I plan on making sure I get them much higher. All in all a clean ale that can be compared to a very smooth amber ale.

Recipe: OctoberAlt
Style: Dusseldorf Altbier
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 6.50 gal     
Boil Size: 7.44 gal
Estimated OG: 1.047 SG
Estimated Color: 14.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 34.9 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU     
6.50 lb       Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                     Grain        55.3 %       
5.00 lb       Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)          Grain        42.6 %       
0.25 lb       Carafa II (412.0 SRM)                     Grain        2.1 %        
1.00 oz       Pearle [7.50%]  (60 min)                  Hops         21.5 IBU     
2.00 oz       Tettnang [4.70%]  (15 min)                Hops         13.4 IBU     
1 Pkgs        German Ale/Kolsch (White Labs #WLP029)    Yeast-Ale                 

Mash Schedule: Decoction Mash, Single
Total Grain Weight: 11.75 lb
Name               Description                         Step Temp     Step Time    
Protein Rest       Add 23.50 qt of water at 126.6 F    122.0 F       35 min       
Saccharification   Decoct 9.96 qt of mash and boil it  155.0 F       45 min       
mash out dec       Decoct 7.15 qt of mash and boil it  170.0 F       15 min       
sparge             Add 23.00 qt of water at 170.0 F    170.0 F       10 min       

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