Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Rauch! Rauch! Rauchbier

 I brewed a rauchbier back on 12/16/11. I based my recipe off of one I found here within a rauchbier style profile BYO article. I stepped up the malt bill on mine by 50% to account for the poor efficiency of my operation (calculated recently at somewhere between 51-57%). I also increased the percentage of smoked/rauch malt. I had never had a traditional full-on rauchbier before, so I was weary of using mostly smoked malts as those recipes do, though I kinda wish I had.

I tasted the wort prior to pitch on brew day and even with 1/4 of the grain bill being smoked malts, it didn’t taste very smokey at all. At the time I thought maybe that’ll be a good thing in the long run, but since brew day I had the chance to try a traditional exemplar of the style, Aecht Schlenkerla’s Urbock Rauchbier. This Bamberg, Germany-based brewery is one of the few that smoke their own malt via traditional methods and produce their beers mainly with these rauch malts. The smokey flavor was definitely intense, slapping you across the face in a way very similar to heavily smoked gouda. Though you’ll never find me drinking more than one or two of these intense (and expensive at $12 a bottle at Buster’s on 28th!) beers in a sitting, I liked it a lot. I hope the one I brewed turns out smokey enough, but I’m doubtful based on the taste of the wort. Next time I’ll use 100% smoked base malts.

Cool fact: Weyerman, the maltster that produced the smoked malt I used, is located in Bamburg, just like Aecht Schlenkerla. So at least there’s that. 🙂

Sparge time: 2 hrs.
Pre-boil OG: 14 brix /1.057
Post-boil, pre-pitch OG: 17.5 brix/1.072
Post-boil, post-pitch OG: 15 brix/1.061

Rauch! Rauch! Rauchbier

Batch size 5.3 gallons
Boil size 7+ gallons
Boil time 90 minutes
Grain weight 16.5 pounds
Efficiency 55%
Original gravity 1.071
Final gravity 1.019
Alcohol (by volume) 6.8%
Bitterness (IBU) 28
Color (SRM) 17.6°L
2 liquid packs, 2200 ml starter
White Labs
German Lager
16.5 pounds
    36ppg, 2°L
6 pounds
Weyerman smoked/rauch malt
    37ppg, 1.5°L
4.25 pounds
Munich (Light)
    34ppg, 10°L
3 pounds
Crystal 20L
    35ppg, 20°L
1.5 pounds
    33ppg, 1.5°L
0.75 pounds
    35ppg, 4°L
0.75 pounds
Carafa III
    30ppg, 450°L
0.25 pounds
4 ounces
German Hallertau hops
    4.1%, Whole
4 ounces
90 minutes, 12 gallons
    Target 152°F
7 gallons
90 minutes (+0)
    Target 170°F
5 gallons
65 minutes, 7+ gallons
German Hallertau hops
    4.1%, Whole
2 ounces
60 minutes (+30)
German Hallertau hops
    4.1%, Whole
1 ounce
30 minutes (+60)
German Hallertau hops
    4.1%, Whole
1 ounce
2 minutes (+88)

Wait — Lager yeast?! Yep, rauchbiers are usually lagers (Schlenkerla also does a smoked hefe, however). This is only the second lager I’ve done in roughly 25 batches. Figured I’d try and take advantage of the cold again this winter and see what happens. I used two vials of WLP830 spread out over my two erlenmeyer flasks to pump up the yeast starter volume in prep for a cold primary fermentation. My cellar is currently at about 55 degress so I figured that would work ok. Temps in the fermenter got upwards of 59* in the first few days, the down to about 57* for the remainder of the first week. In week two it was down to about 55*.

Again, I’m loving whole hops lately. Keeps all the tiny hop sludge particles out of fermentation.

Fermenting away in the cellar...


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