Posts Tagged ‘altbier’

Alt im Zug

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Today is the last day my rail pass is valid, so to celebrate (mourn?) I am on the high-speed ICE traveling without any particular aim. Fortunately, I brought with me three altbiers, Niederrhein, Oscar Maxxum, and Hannen.

Niederrhein KölschAltbier is the competitor of kölsch, traditionally brewed in Düsseldorf. Together with kölsch it is one of the only top-fermented beers in Germany (other than wheat beer). While a great kölsch is pale, clean, and fresh almost like water, the best alts have a deep amber color and a strong, flavorful malt presence. Altbier literally means “old beer”, recognizing the fact that prior to the invention of pilsner malt all beer was dark. Düsseldorf was proud of their ale brewing tradition and refused to switch to the pale lagers that the rest of the world is inordinately obsessed with. Köln I guess took the middle path?

From the town of Korschenbroich, the brewery Kraushof-Vertriebs produces the Niederrhein Alt (literally “lower Rhein alt”).

The Niederrhein is a golden copper color and lightly hazy. The thick and creamy beige head lasts and leaves a lacing on the glass. The nose is fruity with hops, an exotic yet familiar dark fruit.Hannen Kölsch There is a caramel malt aroma that gets somewhat confused in the fruit. Unfortunately there is a bit of a papery character that disrupts the otherwise interesting aroma.

The flavor is full of spicy hops that come through as cumin, pepper, and some oregano. The malt contributes toast and some sweetness. The palate is just a little bit thick, and the cardboard character is somewhat present in the taste as well. It may just be that this bottle is a little old, but it claims to be good until October, though that may mean it was brewed last October.

Next up, the Hannen Alt (since 1725, supposedly), from Mönchengladbach, brewed and bottled for Carlsberg Deutschland. This alt pours a brilliantly clear ruddy copper. The meager off-white head does leave a decent lacing. The aroma is largely cardboard, though some caramel gets through and just the slightest bit of herbal hops.

Oscar Maxxum KölschThe greasy cardboard flavor leaves quite a bit to be desired. Some earthy hops come through, and a bit of caramel and toast from the malt. The palate is full and sweet, but still refreshing. This one says it will be good till next May, so there’s no excuse for age.

The last alt I will try tonight is the Oscar Maxxum, brewed for Trinkgut, a beverage discounter based in Krefeld. This alt is a brilliantly clear copper color. There is some off-white head but it is gone quickly. The nose is lively. There is a definite hop presence that manifests itself as dark fruit as well as spices and herbs, making for an intriguing aroma. Some sweet malt character rounds it out.

The flavor is, unfortunately, not quite as significant as the aroma. There is some caramel from the malt and an herbal hop flavor, but it seems a little bit flat. There is also a relatively strong bitterness that somewhat makes up for it. The palate is full, but the carbonation keeps it lively. Given that this is the house brand for a discounter, I am heartily impressed.

+Oscar Maxxum

3.7 (3-8-7-4-15)

+Niederrhein Alt

3.7 (5-8-7-3-14)

+/-Hannen Alt

2.9 (4-6-4-4-11)

Brauerei Mortiz Fiege

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I have three beers from the Privatebrauerei Moritz Fiege, located in Bochum, a city between here and Düsseldorf. The first is an alt, and as Bochum is so close to Düsseldorf, I feel it’s fair to count that as the first entry for the style in our little kölsch-alt battle. After that I have a schwarzbier and a pilsner to try.

Moritz Fiege AltEach of the Moritz Fiege beers has a pithy description beneath the name. The Moritz Fiege Alt says “the traditionally brewed altbier”. The alt pours with a thick, creamy beige head atop a beer that is either a dark honey color or a light caramel. The aroma is strong and also could be caramel, but there is a rich character of dried green herb and winter spice to it as well. There is the lightest hint of sulfur and a bit of alcohol noticeable.

There is a strong earthy hop flavor grounding the alt. This can get a little overbearing, as the toasty and sweet malt flavors are a bit weak. The hops and the alcohol combine to make something of a strange bitterness. It is a bit watery as well. If it were a bit sweeter all the problems would be solved.

Next up, the Moritz Fiege Schwarzbier, “the fine and spicy black beer”. To style, this beer is nearly completely opaque.Monolith This one reminds me of the monolith from 2001. There is a fair amount of coffee-tinted head,Moritz Fiege Schwarzbier which isn’t lasting, yet forms a lacing on the glass. There is hardly any aroma at all. The malt and yeast make some sort of chestnut character and the hops and perhaps the color produce the sensation of being in the woods.

The flavor of the schwarzbier is also very clean. There are some noble hop flavors and a bitterness from the hops as well as the dark malt. There is almost no malt flavor. The palate is so light and fresh it is almost sprightly, with an active carbonation that keeps the bitterness in check, making it relatively easy to drink.

Moritz Fiege PilsLast but not least, the Moritz Fiege Pils, “the characterful pils”. A bright straw, brilliantly clear, with a lasting creamy white head. The nose is mostly spicy hops, a mixture of pine and exotic spices. There is some pale malt aroma but not much.

The flavor of the pils is fresher still than the schwarzbier, probably by virtue of the absence of dark malts. A rich, spicy, earthy and herbal hop flavor and significant hop bitterness is balanced by a slight sweetness and a palate fullness. The hops linger a little bit on the tongue, but in a pleasant way.

+Moritz Fiege Pils

4.0 (4-8-8-4-16)

+Moritz Fiege Schwarzbier

3.9 (4-7-8-4-16)

+/-Moritz Fiege Alt

3.4 (4-8-7-2-13)

Session #30: Beer Ice Cream

Friday, August 7th, 2009

session_logoThe Session is a monthly beer blog carnival. You can read about its origins here. This month (Beer Desserts) is hosted by David Jensen of Beer47. The prompt is located here and the roundup is posted here. David wants to know if beer goes with or in desserts and asks, “What beer desserts have you tried and liked?”2009-08-07-sun-rye

Just days before the prompt was posted my friend Jordan and I spoke about making ice cream. We had discussed several strange and interesting flavor ideas (including chili pepper) but somehow beer had escaped us. Fortunate, then, that this Session topic is beer desserts!

We made four varieties: one with my homebrew altbier, one with Redhook Sun Rye, one with Boulevard Single-Wide IPA, and one with Murphy’s Oatmeal Stout. For the first three we loosely followed a recipe from the Pencil & Spoon, chosen for its simplicity.2009-08-07-jordan The idea here is just to combine the dairy (we used half & half), beer, and sugar and churn. For the Sun Rye and altbier we mixed at a ratio of 6:3:2 half&half to beer to sugar. They both turned out fine but are quite subtle. On the Single-Wide we upped the ante, with almost one-to-one beer to half & half. This turned out to be about the right ratio, yielding a great hoppy flavor.2009-08-07-murphys

For the stout we went with a traditional egg based recipe somewhat like this one at Brian’s Belly. We boiled the half & half and beer while mixing the eggs, sugar, and a bit of cocoa. After tempering the eggs with a bit of the cream we mixed it all, cooked for a bit, then cooled it before churning. The flavor was not all that different from the others but we could tell right away that it was a lot creamier!2009-08-07-eggs

For all of these we used a bit of xantham gum, which acts as a binder as well as preventing the formation of ice crystals.

Every one of these beer ‘screams turned out great, but the Murphy’s and Single-Wide were particularly fantastic. The Murphy’s tastes much like a coffee ice cream, but the bitterness and malt flavor remind you that it’s actually stout. The balance between the sugar and hops in the Single-Wide is ideal, and the floral hop taste is just incredible.

2009-08-07-churnRed Hook Sun Rye Ice Cream
5 cups half & half
20 oz Sun Rye
1/2 cup sugar

Homebrew Altbier Ice Cream
3 cups half & half
12 oz homebrew
1 cup sugar
pinch xantham gum

Single-Wide IPA Ice Cream
3 pints half & half
36 oz Single-Wide
1.5 cups sugar
a few pinches xantham gum

Murphy’s Oatmeal Stout Chocolate Ice Cream
2 cups half & half
16 oz Murphy’s
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1 cup sugar
pinch xantham gum

Bottle an Alt, Drink a Bitter

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Tonight I bottled my altbier. “Alt” means old and that is relative to lager, the “new” style. Alt is a North German beer, originating in Düsseldorf. It, along with Kölsch, is one of the few remaining German ale styles.

An altbier is amber to brown with more hop flavor and bitterness than any other German style. There is still a balance between malt and hops, though. Fruity character from the ale yeast is present, but it is relatively clean and crisp due to extended aging.

I made mine a dopplesticke. In German “doppel” means double and “sticke” means secret, as in a secret recipe. This is the strongest altbier a brewery makes. It should be strong and sweet but also quite bitter. It is usually dry hopped as well.

When I opened the fermenter I noticed a layer of something growing on top. I’m pretty sure it’s not mold.

Here’s what I think happened. On the day I transferred the alt to the fermenter to age in, I was also working on my Oud Bruin. Description of that project in full will have to wait for another post, but suffice it to say I am aging that one with Brett, which tends to form a pellicle. I must have gotten just a little cross contamination, enough for the Brett to build up a bit in the almost two months this alt’s been lagering.

Anyway it still tastes great so I’m bottling it and hoping for the best. Recipe below.

The immortal words of Charlie Papazian, to all homebrewers nervous about that next batch: “Relax. Don’t Worry. Have a Homebrew.” In that spirit I will try one of the last bottles of my last batch, Flood Water Bitter. I brewed this way back on June 14, the first day the Iowa River flooded over the bridge to my house.

It pours a very hazy mahogany with a creamy tan head. There is a light fruity nose, some caramel, and a little metallic tinge. The flavor at first seems sweet, then quickly dry and a strongly bitter. A spicy, slightly earthy hop flavor is present throughout. Flavors and bitterness linger.

I have a couple bottles left so let me know if you want one.

Double Plus Secret – Doppelsticke (for 5.5 gallons)

8 lbs Munich malt
4 lbs Pilsner malt
1 lb CaraMunich 60L
1 lb CaraPils Dextrin malt
4 oz Chocolate malt

I wasn’t lazy and so I did a double decoction mash.

Protein rest: 25 min @ 122F
α-amylase rest: 15 min @ 150F
β-amylase rest: 30 min @ 154F

I did an 80 minute boil. Hop additions:

1.25 oz Mt. Hood (5.2% aa) @ 80 min
1 oz Mt. Hood @ 60 min
2 oz Glacier dry-hopped in the secondary

The original gravity was 1.068 and the final gravity 1.008, making the alcohol about 8%.

+Flood Water Bitter – Special Bitter (for 5.5 gallons)

RateBeer: 3.1 (3-6-7-3-12)

4 lbs Pilsner malt
2 lbs Munich malt
2 lbs Wheat malt
1 lb CaraMunich 60L
12 oz Caramel 120L

1.5 oz Northern Brewer @ 60 min
0.5m oz Mt. Hood @ 15 min