Monday, June 7, 2010

RauchDunkel - Smoked Dark Lager

Immersion Chiller CloseupInspired by my favorite pale session smoked beer (Helles Schlenkerla Lager) and a sample of Denison's Dunkle I decided to brew a smoked dark lager.  Doing low gravity smoked beer is a balancing act, too much smoke can destroy drinkability, while not enough and the smoke character disappears after the first few sips.  The biggest problem is that the smoked malt itself is variable, mellowing with time and exposure to the air (smelling and tasting it before finalizing your grainbill is important). 

Equal parts Vienna/Munich/Pils is a base malt combination that has worked for me in a couple beers (e.g. Flanders Red), so I just swapped out the pils for Weyermann Rauch (beechwood smoked) malt.  I was planning on using carafa special for adding color without much roast flavor, but when I looked through my specialty malt box on brewday the closest thing I could find was chocolate rye (which is dehusked and so has a similar character). I went pretty easy on the hops (all Saaz), since I didn't want the bitterness to get in the way of the malt. 

Racking Beer into a Better BottleThis was my first time using Saflager W-34/70 (a dried lager yeast) and I was less concerned with achieving an ultra clean fermentation because the complex malt and smoke will help to cover up some minor fermentation sins.  Fermentation took longer than I expected to take off, which was probably due to under-pitching by about 50%.  I pitched the yeast into the wort once it reached 50 degrees (which took several additional hours in the fridge post cooling with my immersion chiller), which is also a couple degrees lower than the yeast lab recommends.

When the beer is done lagering it should be a perfect beer to have on tap for the summer, the dark malt and smoke will be a nice match for grilled food and barbecue, and the low alcohol will keep it refreshing.  Some time this summer I'm planning on smoking some malt myself, but I'll talk about that another time (happy to take any malt smoking tips that anyone has though).


Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.38
Anticipated OG: 1.047
Anticipated SRM: 19.9
Anticipated IBU: 22.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

32.0% - 3.00 lbs. German Vienna Malt
32.0% - 3.00 lbs. German Munich Malt
32.0% - 3.00 lbs. Weyermann Smoked Malt
4.0% - 0.38 lbs. Chocolate Rye

2.00 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 2.80% AA) @ 45 min.
0.50 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 2.80% AA) @ 10 min.

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 11 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 11 min.

Saflager Weihenstephan - W34/70

Water Profile
Profile: Carbon Filtered Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 60 min @ 153

Brewed 5/20/10 by myself

Batch sparged collected 7.25 gallons of 1.035 wort.

Hops adjusted down from 3.5% AA, ~18 months old.

Dissolved Whirlfloc and Yeast Nutrient in warm wort before dumping it into the boil.

Chilled to 80 (ground water is around 70 these days), strained, left most of the trub behind leaving closer to 4.75 in the fermenter, put into fridge at 50.

8 hours later gave it 60 seconds of O2, and pitched the dry yeast straight in.  Left it rehydrate and gave it a shake an hour later.

36 hours later there still weren't any signs of fermentation, so I gave it a swirl and upped the temp to 55. 8 hours later a small krausen had formed.

12 hours after that strong fermentation, backed down to 53 degrees.  Good strong fermentation.

6/11/10 Up to 56 to make sure it finishes out.

6/13/10 Racked to a keg.  Flavor was good, a bit of tea like flavor from the hops.  Audrey thought it had a bit of tartness, but I couldn't pick up on it.  Lagers are often a few tenths of a pH point lower than ales, so that may have been all it was.  Put of gas and shook several times to get some CO2 into solution then moved to the fridge at 40 degrees to lager.

7/3/10 Moved to keggerator and hooked up to gas.  Keg seemed to be leaking, not much pressure left.

7/15/10 Tasting of this one, turned out to be a great beer.  Subtle smoke, nice dark malt character, balanced, great with food.


unholymess said...

"Dissolved Whirlfloc and Yeast Nutrient in warm wort."

Did you do something different here, or still adding to boil ?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Dissolving the Whirlfoc and nutrient in wort/water for a few minutes just ensures that they don't clump up when you add them to the boil. It seem to be something most craft brewer do, but it probably isn’t as big a deal for homebrewers since we aren’t adding nearly as much. I’d used Irish Moss for a couple batches in a row before this one so I got in the habit (Irish Moss really should be rehydrated from everything I’ve read).

-- said...

I brewed a low abv (4%) Vienna this weekend. My plan is to use it to build up yeast for a 10 gallon dunkel next (then maybe a dopplebock?). I'm using Wyeast 2038 Munich Lager. I cold pitched at 48 degrees also and the beer experiencing a long lag time, 48 hours so far and no activity. I gave it another minute of O2 this morning and raised the temp to 55. Hopefully It'll have some action by this evening. Last lager I made I pitched at 55 and then cooled it down once it started. I didn't have any lag trouble. But, I had to try the cold pitch technique that JZ is always preaching on the Brewing Network.

Don't know why I got the itch to brew lagers during the summer.

Aaron said...

I love brewing lagers in summer... the lagering fridge doesn't care much about my ambient temperature, so I don't have to worry.

This sounds really good, I'm looking forward to hearing about it when it's done. I love smoked beers, and definitely underestimated the amount of smoked malt to use in the one I've done so far (only used 1 lb).

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I enjoy lager brewing in the summer as well, that and saisons. I don't think I'll do a series on this yeast cake, but I want to do a really traditional pils sometime soon.

I know some people (and breweries) go up close to 100% Rauchmalt, and I don't mind those beers, but they aren't something I want 5 gallons of on tap. ~30% seems to be the sweet spot for me, but everyone's tastes are different.

Suburban Brew said...

Just sampled my Rauchbier Weizen. 50% Wheat 50% Weyerman's Smoke (beechwood) malt. Freshness is the key for the smoke malt. Don't know how old the malt is but its not nearly as smoky as I would have liked. Guess I need to smoke my own malt.

Jeffrey said...

Just thought I'd say I brewed this up about a week ago. Looked and smelled great. I increased the smoked malt just a tad to get a bit more smoke in the brew.

Sitting in an unplugged mini fridge in my garage. The garage temp is around 40, but the inside of the fridge is staying strong at 50.

Really looking forward to it.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds perfect, let me know how it turns out.

Beghe said...

hi, i love this recipe... i don't have chocolate rye. Do you thing weyerman cara aroma would be a good substitute? alternatively I've got chocolate, pale choccolate, or.. dingerman roast but you said it could bring to mach "roasteness" so imagine i should discard this...

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Chocolate wheat or Carafa Special would be the best substitutes as they too are dehusked and have lighter roast characters. You could try one of the others, but it'll be a rather different beer (likely still delicious though)!