Format: Free- form. Just try to brew an example of the Altbier (or Alt) style. Pick a recipe or formulate one based on the style guidelines. No restriction on grains, hops, yeast, water or techniques.
Goals: Educational and fun. A wide variety of knowledge of the style is expected. No pressure. The intent is to learn and enjoy.
Notes: Plenty of time was given to brew the beer and allow time for ageing, as is the custom of the style. The original notice was sent out on September 21, 2022, and the tasting took place at Crafty Bastard West on January 11, 2023. Fourteen beers were submitted. Each beer was evaluated by all entrants, as well as by Aaron McClain, owner of Crafty Bastard. Comment cards included two simple “slide bars”, one for “is it to style” and one for “how much do I enjoy it”, as well as ample comment space. Each beer was assigned a number, the entries were evaluated “blind”, and the intent was for each brewer to wear his number at the end. That format was roughly followed.
Conclusions: A good time was had by all, and everyone seemed to learn a lot. All the beers were quite tasty – no off flavors in any of them – and a few were judged to be good examples of the style. Aaron preferred Daniel Hillesheim’s fuller, richer interpretation, saying that to him it represented the Altbier style perfectly. His second choice was John O’Neil’s dryer, crisper interpretation. His third was Tom Brandeis’ and his fourth was Wayne Colbenson’s. The majority of participants chose John O’Neil’s. His beer had a surprisingly solid malt presence considering that pilsner malt made up almost all of the grain bill. Interestingly, Daniel confessed that his “Alt” was actually his Dunkel recipe. Which just goes to show that styles (and preferences and interpretations) can overlap a good bit.
John O’Neil’s “Ancient Ways” recipe:
Color: 12 SRM
Pre-boil: 7 gallons @ 1.043
Post-boil: 6.25 gallons @ 1.048 (45 minute boil)
Mash 45 minutes @ 152.6 F.
8 # Avangard Pilsner
4 oz. Crystal 60
4 oz, Briess Chocolate (350 L.)
41 g/1.5 oz Perle @ 7.1% for 45 minutes (30 IBU)
30 g/1.06 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh @ 4% for 15 minutes (7 IBU)
3.6 g baking soda, 4.3 g calcium chloride, 1.5 g Epsom salts, 1.9 g gypsum added to mash
Ca: 82 ppm, Mg: 12 ppm, Na: 45 ppm, Cl: 83 ppm, carbonate: 210 ppm
WLP029 German Ale/Kolsch yeast fermented @ 66 F. for 5 days, then 72 F. for 2 days