Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Munich Dunkel

A couple of times every year, my brother Geoff comes for a visit... usually a fairly long one at that, and a couple of weeks ago was no exception. It always results in 7-10 days of drinking good beer, with usually a short trip thrown in... to drink good beer. This January, we made a quick jaunt down to Portland, ME for a one-day pub crawl, and then did the same in Bangor so that he could check out the new beer bar there, Nocturnem Draft Haus.

On top of that, in early January my wife and I were also in Portland for a few days. On one of those days we made the hour-drive down to Portsmouth, NH, so that we could finally visit the Portsmouth Brewery and Brewpub. It didn't let us down... great food, and more importantly, great beer. One of their drafts I got to try was their Munich Dunkel. Up to this point, I don't think I'd ever had a beer of this style. Quite enjoyable, a well-made Munich Dunkel is a dark lager that has an aroma and flavor rich in Munich-sweetness (like bread), with optional notes of chocolate, caramel, and/or toffee. There's virtually no hop aroma/flavor, bitterness is low, and it shouldn't have any of the burnt flavors that you see in stouts and porters. Being a lager, it's meant to finish clean, with no fruity esters.

So, when Geoff and I were trying to pick out a style to brew while he was here, Munich Dunkel was the winner. I was looking to brew another lager, and the Portsmouth version was so smooth and easy-drinking, it felt like a good style to try. When deciding on a recipe, I was initially leaning towards the Brewing Classic Styles version, which is essentially all Munich malt, and some Carafa Special II for color and a bit of flavor (a darker malt, it doesn't provide roastiness to a beer when used in reasonable quantities, due to the fact that it doesn't have a husk). I also found a winning recipe from the NHC in 2010, called Tara's Slam Dunkel (brewed by Shekhar and Paula Nimkar), that used a majority of Munich malt, some Pilsner, and 1/4 lb of Chocolate malt. I ended up going with a mishmash of both recipes, hopefully to the point where it won't become roasty.

Hallertau pellet hops were used... while there isn't a lot of hop character in this style, I still like to use hops from the beer's "original" region, if I can. One bittering addition and a very small flavor addition was all it took. For fermentation, I used the Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager yeast... I've used this yeast before, in last year's Oktoberfest, and I was really happy with the malty, not-overly-sweet flavors that it helped produce, while remaining nice and clean like a Lager yeast should. Once fermentation is complete, I'll rack the beer to a secondary fermenter and let it lager for about 2 months or so. Being a medium-gravity beer, at best, it shouldn't need to sit at lagering temps for much longer (as opposed to something like a Doppelbock, which ideally should be lagered for 6 months or more).

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 80% efficiency): OG 1.052, FG 1.014, IBU 21.7, SRM 18.4

3.41 kg Munich malt (8 SRM)
795 g Bohemian Pilsner malt
113 g Carafa Special II
91 g Chocolate malt

Hallertau - 67 g (2.2% AA) @ 60 min
Hallertau - 21 g @ 20 min

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min
1/2 tab Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager (PD Sept 27/11) (with two 2.1 L starters)

- Brewed Jan 26, 2012, with Geoff. 60 minute mash with 12.13 L of strike water, mashed in at 154 F. Added 6.43 L of water at ~200 F for 10 minute mash-out. Sparged with ~4.5 gallons of 170 F water for final volume of 7.25 gallons in the kettle. 90 minute boil.

- Chilled down to ~55 F with immersion chiller. OG came in high at 1.056. Poured and filtered into Better Bottle, final volume a tad low (say a bit under 5.5 gallons). Set in fermentation chamber with temp set at 45 F. When cooled down more to below 50 F, pitched decanted yeast starter, aerating by shaking for several minutes before and after. Set back in fermentation chamber with temp set to 50 F.

28/1/12 - 31/1/12 - Slow, steady fermentation, never really going over 3-4 blips per 10 seconds in the airlock.

1/2/12 - Fermentation appeared to be slowing some, so I moved it out of the chamber and left it on top, to try to bring the temp up for a diacetyl rest. Never really got over 62 F over the next few days.

5/2/12 - Took a gravity reading of 1.018... I'll be lucky if it drops even another point or two. Moved the fermenter back into the chamber and gradually decreased the temp by 3 F every day until it was resting back at 50 F.

18/2/12 - Racked to secondary and kept in fermentation chamber with temp set at 45 F. Ideally would begin lagering now, but I need to share the space for the Doppelbock that I'll (hopefully) be brewing in a few days.

13/3/12 - Now that the Doppelbock has been also racked to secondary, I started decreasing the temp by 1 F every 12 hours or so to a final lagering temp of 38 F.

24/4/12 - FG 1.016. Bottled with 106 g table sugar (and ~1/5 packet of Nottingham dry yeast, rehydrated), aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 for 4.75 gallons, max temp of ~64 F reached.

12/5/12 - Tasting notes...

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