Patience is tough but once the beer gets in the lagering fridge I kind of forget about it. Watching my kegerator run dry and beer runs becoming necessary stinks but so it goes.
My temperature control setup is excellent. I use a 7 cubic chest freezer and a Brewpi and with that I have ridiculous level of control over my fermentation temps. For example, I can pitch a beer at 48 and then linearly ramp the temp to 50 over 48 hours, then hold for 8 days, then raise 5 degrees a day to 60 for a diacetyl rest and then let it sit there till i’m ready to rack. All without touching a thing after the initial setup. Here is the graph from my current beer so you can see what i’m talking about. Up top is what it has been doing and at the bottom is what it is set to do.
And the big pitch of happy health yeast – that is why I’ve been doing a run of lagers and plan on doing one more (Doppelbock). By harvesting the yeast from the previous beer I can get 300-400ml of ready to go yeast at no additional cost versus buying one or two packs of yeast and then doing one or two big starters which all in all can add $20 to a batch of beer. And the harversted yeast seems to make a cleaner beer, especially with lagers.
Why a Schwarzbier? Well, a few reasons but other than the fact I haven’t brewed one the big reason is I got my NHC results back and none of my beers placed. Discouraging but after a couple of beers I decided rather than stop trying I’d rather go after it. And if I’m going to go after it, maybe having a strategy is a good idea 🙂 With this years attempt, I just submitted whatever beers I had around. The experience was good since it was my first NHC, but not a great idea. For starters, the beers I had were two of the most entered categories (American Ale, IPA) and one that was good but not stellar (Belgian Dark Strong 1). And the Pale Ale (APA Galaxy 1) and IPA (Hop Fu 1) were long in the tooth which is a big no no for those categories. So, for next year I plan on entering beers in the hardest to brew categories with the fewest number of entries, work the calendar backwards so I am making them at the right times and also have more brews ready then I can enter so I can be selective about what I submit.
So, after looking at the entry data for the last few years it is clear that the lager categories as well as amber hybrid and fruit beers are consistently the lowest number of entries and I think the lagers and amber hybrid are probably the hardest to brew. Oh, and I HATE Fruit Beer 🙂
With that, I figure I can get 3-4 entries next year so I plan on brewing 6 beers and picking the ones I think have the best shot. With all that, the categories I’m targeting are light lager, amber lager, dark lager, bock, pilsner and amber hybrid. And I don’t want my entries to be the first time I’ve brewed those styles so I’m going to do a dry run and then do another run for the actual competition starting in September. I just did Helles and Vienna so now on to Dark Lagers. I’ve done a Dunkel but it didnt’ do well in competition and I wasn’t a huge fan so I’ve decided to go with Schwarzbier. Then I will harvest yeast from that and pitch into a Doppelbock and then do a Northern German Alt. I’m happy with my German Pilsner I’ve brewed in the past so I think I’ll stick with that as is.
Anywho, how did I come up with my Schwarzbier recipe? I wasn’t super psyched on Jamil’s recipe but it seemed like a good place to start. So, I took that and mixed it with a recipe from another beer judge friend that was a Dunkel recipe and melded it with what came to mind when I read the BJCP style guide and out came this recipe. I did want to have a little roast character since I feel like judges look for that in a Schwarzbier but I also want to have a nice hit of maltiness. I prefer Munich I to II for it’s malt aroma/flavor profile – II comes across as a bit fruity (cherry) to me when used in high quantities. My buddies Dunkel had a hit of Caramunich which I thought came across nicely so incorporated that. For the hops, I really like Tettnanger since it has the classic noble hop character that I think judges really look for. Spalt and Hallertauer obviously would work but the have a bit more of a floral quality which I think wouldn’t work as well for this beer.
I did have to make a couple of adjustments at the last minute. I used a bit of warrior at 60 mins to get the bitterness up since my efficiency was better than expected (85 when expecting 80). Also, I had to use Briess Roasted Barley instead of Carafa II since my homebrew shop doesn’t stock it. Fingers crossed on that one.
Here is the recipe:
4-C Schwarzbier (Black Beer)
Size: 8.13 gal
Original Gravity: 1.051 (1.046 – 1.052)
Terminal Gravity: 1.010 (1.010 – 1.016)
Color: 25.28 (17.0 – 30.0)
Alcohol: 5.31% (4.4% – 5.4%)
Bitterness: 30.0 (22.0 – 32.0)
6.5 lb (46.0%) Pilsner Malt – added during mash
6 lb (42.5%) Munich TYPE I – added during mash
.75 lb (5.3%) Caramunich® TYPE II – added during mash
8 oz (3.5%) Carafa Special® TYPE III – added during mash
6 oz (2.7%) Carafa® TYPE II – added during mash #subtituted Briess Roasted Barley
.25 oz (7.7%) Warrior® (14.9%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m #didn’t plan on initially
2 oz (61.5%) Tettnanger (3.9%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
1 oz (30.8%) Tettnanger (3.9%) – added during boil, boiled 15 m
1 tsp Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 10 m
.75 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10 m
1 ea Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager
acidify sparge to below 5.8 (~10ml of 10% phosphoric in 10G of water)
should give mash pH of 5.4
14.12 lb of grain
1.5 qt/lb = 21 quarts = 5.25 gallons
mash @ 153
mash in water temp 163.5 so 164.5 into mash tun
pitch @ 48 and ramp to 50 over 2 days > hold till day 8 then ramp 5 degrees a day to 60 and hold for a total of 3 weeks minimum. rack to keg and drop 2 degrees a day to 40 then put in lagering fridge @35 and lager for two months. rack to clean keg and force carb to 2.5 volumes.
4/28 normal brew day. repitched ~300ml of fairly packed yeast that was 1Q harvest from the previous batch. when decanted the yeast smelled good.
Only cooled beer to 52 then put it in my fermentation chamber to get it down to 48 which took almost 3 hours.
Ended up with 8 Gallons and put a very clean 6.5 gallons into the carboy.
Efficiency was a startling 85%! need to double check my refractometer 🙂
Pitched @ 4:30pm
4/29 9am no activity
9pm kreusen starting to form – little islands of bubbles – and very slow bubbling about every 15 secs
4/30 8am 1/4″ kreusen and slow steady bubbling