Oh Army of Darkness, you still rock my small, self-centered universe.
If you are one of the benighted masses sadly unfamiliar with this masterpiece of cinema, here's the full scene.
Two factors combined to inspire my first beer dedicated to The Chin. First off, my last Rye Alt was delicious but needed a bit more work. It had to either go more Alt, or more American Rye, and I went with more Alt. But the rye was excellent; it stays. Gives it just a bit of spiciness that really goes well with the malt backbone and German hop spiciness. Secondly, a couple weeks ago I brought back a growler of Chuckanut's kickass Sticke Alt and was inspired to try my hand at a Sticke.
Alts are basically the IPAs of Germany, or as close as it comes anyway. Alt means "old", as in old-style pre-lager ales. A malty ale, clean fermented, usually lagered, and with a hefty dose of German hops. Sticke Alt is a bigger, stronger version, typically brewed on a small scale and released to loyal customers in small brewpub bars. In its infinite wisdom the BJCP puts Stickes into the catchall Category 23 (Specialty Beer) so it's basically useless for competition. Oh well, more for us! And I'm planning on serving it at BeerStock this year, so more for many of you all too I guess.
Brewday went quite well, proving that having nice weather, no one else around, and drinking coffee not beer makes for successful brewday. Only screwup was that I forgot to add the baking soda during the mash, which may have impacted the chemistry a bit. No other real problems though. My LHS was out of CaraMunich, so I subbed in Crystal 60. Use CaraMunich if you can. Had to use Best Munich and Vienna, but I'd prefer Weyermann. My rye was Briess I think.
Gravity was lower than expected, 1.060 instead of 1.064. If I can get it down to 1.014 or lower it will still be in Sticke range, somewhere between 6-6.5% ABV. Shouldn't be too much trouble. I've had gravity problems these last couple beers, probably need to move the rollers on my mill closer together. Malted rye has been giving me gravity troubles too, next time I'll try flaked and see if I get more yield. For yeast I repitched a bunch of Wyeast Northwest Ale (Hale's Ale's strain). It's become the house strain, I just keep repitching it and culturing it up. But any clean ale would work, either American Ale or one of the actual Alt strains, Wyeast German Ale (not the Kolsch strain) or White Labs Dusseldorf Alt (a great yeast for Alts). Here's the recipe.
5.25 gallon, all grain
Est OG 1.064, Act. OG 1.060
Est FG 1.012-1.014
Est ABV 6-6.25%
- 5 lbs Munich (Dark Munich, 10L)
- 4 lbs Vienna
- 3 lbs Rye Malt
- 8 oz Crystal 60
- 2 oz Carafa II Special
Mash water modifications: 1.25 t Chalk, 1/4 t gypsum, 1 t calcium chloride, 1/2 t Epsom salts, 3/4 t baking soda.
Added to the boil: 1/8th gypsum, 1/2 tsp calcium chloride, 1/4 epsom salts. Also, I finally found out that Seattle Public Utilities doesn't use chloramination so I've stopped wasting campden tablets in my brewing water.
90 Minute Boil
- 1.75 oz Domestic Perle (leaf) @ 7.2% AA @ First Wort Hop.
- 1 oz Sterling (leaf) @ 8.5% AA 15 min @ 15 min
- whirlfloc tab @ 15
- 1 oz Sterling and the remaining Perle @ 1 min
- Dry hop with Tettengangers for 3-5 days
So after about two weeks in the fridge I decided to tap the keg. 1st impression: This beer seriously needs to lager. A lot of hazy chunder fell out of solution, and the first couple pints were really quite unpleasant. I was worried for the batch, actually. But over a week of half-pint pours it mellowed out and cleared up. I like it more, but I still am not happy with it. There is a serious raw grainyness to it and it's not as malty as I'd like. The bitterness is a bit harsh too, I may swap out the Perle for about 45 IBU of Magnum. I'm switching the Best Malting Munich and Pilsner out for Weyermann. I'm going to drop the decoction and swap it out for a 15 min kettle caramelization of the first gallon of wort, similar to the All-Aromatic Oktoberfest. That thing is a malt beast. Won't be serving this at Beerstock, I'll serve the Oktoberfest instead.