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Dusseldorf Alt

May 24, 2012

I wasn’t planning on brewing so soon, but an opportunity presents itself.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to brew, but had sort of settled on a Dunkelweiss before I was reminded of an alt (while looking for posts on Dunkelweiss).  It seems like it should hit the spot and I can use the keezer to maintain temperature.

Last time I used De-bittered black and black patent malt to substitute for Carafa II.  This time I have my own Carafa II so I won’t have to do that.  I seem to recall a bitterness issue and having the black patent could have contributed.


BeerSmith Recipe / Brewsheet

Reviewing Jamil’s Alt show:Pre-Brew

  • Replaced 3 oz. Carafa II with 1 oz. ground in the coffee grinder.  In order to make color correct on recipe, I bumped its SRM to 824 (doubled).
  • Ferment @ 60 F by wort temp (i.e., attach thermometer to outside with bubble wrap and set keezer temp to that necessary to maintain 60 F).

Brew Day (5/28/12 – Memorial Day)

Might have gotten my earliest start to a brew day with this.  Was weird but nice to have most of a day left afterward.  Brewing itself went pretty smoothly, hitting pretty close to my estimated OG using 75% expected efficiency for the first time in a while (got 1.052 when expected was 1.053).  This was using the club’s east side mill and setting it to the second finest.  Lauter went pretty smooth as well, taking about 20 minutes with the valve throttled.  Pre-boil gravity ended up 1 point high.  Coupled with 1 point low OG means I didn’t brew as vigorously as I expected, but I still think it was sufficiently high.  I did think I was a little conservative on the boil at the time, but that was because my refractometer reading (11.25) prior to the boil led me to think I was going to be a little low.  I’m in the process of analyzing the accumulated refractometer to SG readings to try to get a reliable correction factor.

Oh yeah, the Magnum hops smelled AWESOME!  They were German sourced I guess and were a great, clean smell.  I could have sat with my nose in the bag all day.

Cooldown was good again despite warmer weather.  Last brew day I extended the discharge hose to reach out of the garage so I was able to crank the flow rate up (without having to worry about it flowing back into the garage).  I’m not sure what it does to my efficiency (i.e., total volume of water used) but I know the rate is pretty nice (from flameout to 65 F in 10 minutes).

Pitched in the evening when the wort was in the low 60’s (after sitting in the mid-50’s keezer for a few hours) and the starter was at room temperature, but showing great activity.  Oxygenated for 60 seconds.


With the low pitching and fermentation temperature, I didn’t expect to need a blowoff tube, so I didn’t put one on.  Plus, I thought, if I did end up needing one, it wouldn’t be until at least the next morning.  Well, those were poor assumptions.  I woke up the next morning with a puddle in the bottom of the keezer and a hissing airlock.  I quickly cleaned up and installed a blowoff tube.  Fermentation kept its rapid pace for the next 2 days or so.  After that, it slowed but kept pretty consistent activity for a few more days.

I kept a temperature probe rubber banded and bubble wrapped to the side and noticed it right on 60 F (+/- about 0.5 a degree) for the vigorous initial fermentation.  During this the keezer was set at 56 F, IIRC.  Once activity slowed down, I gradually increased the keezer temperature as I noticed the probe reading ~59 F until I eventually had it set to 61 and the probe kept at ~60 F (all of this occurring over about 3 days).

The plan is to wait until activity is pretty much stopped and then let it condition for a while in the room temperature closet.  I should review alt procedures because I know it benefits from a good lagering phase, but I’d like to get the keezer back to store my latest Scottish.  I think I’ll be fine letting it sit out for a few days to clean up and then crashing it and lagering for a few weeks (as long as my patience holds).

Sample after 8 days

1.014 – The most noticeable thing is the smell.  Very strong… sulfur?  It’s cloudy and much too pale.  It actually looks like a Hefe.  It’s pretty dry (despite the gravity) and bitter.  Not a lot of malt character so far, but it’s not bad.

After 12 days

1.013 – Only looks like a point difference, but I’m pretty confident it’s a legitimate change (i.e. more than 1 point, less than 2).  Smell was not as pungent.  The last time, I could smell it as soon as I opened the closet.  This time, it didn’t show up until I popped off the airlock.  Still pretty cloudy and too pale.  Assertive bitterness and dry.  I worry that the malt character won’t be enough for my taste.


Crash cooled to 35 F in keezer after about 16 days.  After letting it sit for the night and most of a day (not so long, I know), I kegged it up and force carbonated.

Evaluation #1

Certainly too pale, but extremely drinkable and tasty.

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