Rauchbier 2019

>> Sunday, August 11, 2019

Today I'm brewing a Rauchbier, a style I've brewed several times before. For this version, I'm starting off with what is essentially an Oktoberfest/Märzen grain bill. In order to add the smokey component, I cold-smoked the entire grain bill, except for the Carafa III, with Pecan... that's correct, the entire grain bill. Pecan isn't quite traditional, but I really liked the character that the Pecan contributed to my Lichtenhainer, so I'm going with it.

Like the Lichtenhainer, I added 9.5ml RO water per pound of grain before cold-smoking. This helps the smoke "stick" to the grain. The grain was cold-smoked for about 3 hours with Pecan. I ran into a bit of an issue during the smoking process; both drive wheels on my drum smoker broke loose from the epoxy that held them to the drive shaft. I ended up drilling some holes in the drive shaft, then pinning the wheels with finish nails. The initial smoke was about an hour followed by about two additional hours after the fix. The grain was then allowed to rest/condition/mellow for a week before the beer brewday.

Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today. As I mentioned above, all grain except the Carafa was cold-smoked.

6.0 # Viking Pilsner
4.4375 Weyermann Munich Type I
0.4375 Weyermann Vienna
0.125 Weyermann Caramunich Type III
0.125 Weyermann Melanoidin
0.250 Weyermann Carafa Special III (lauter)
1.0g BrewTan B (dissolved in warm water, mash)
4ml Hopshot (60 min)
28g Tradition (Flameout)
0.5 Whirlfloc
0.5t Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in warm water/wort, 5 min)
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager

Mash at 155F, 90 minute boil, chill to 51F then ramp temps up to 55F over 4 days. Perform a diacetyl rest when gravity is ~1.020.

Water Profile
Use distilled or RO water. You do not want any chlorine or chloramine present or you'll almost certainly have chlorophenol problems. To 10 gallons distilled water, add:

  • 2.0g Gypsum
  • 2.4g Epsom Salt
  • 5.2g Calcium Chloride
  • 2.0g Baking Soda
Brewing Notes
No issues. First Runnings, Pre, and Post-boil came in at 21.1 brix (1.085), 13.3 (1.052) and 17 (1.068) respectively. Gravity-wise, it's a tad higher than I was shooting for, but not too far off from style guidelines. I tasted the first runnings and it was pretty intensely smoky. I'm ok with that though because the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is one of my favorites and is also intensely smoky. It mellowed a bit by the end off the boil, and will mellow more by the end of fermentation, but it's definitely going to be more assertive than most of my smoked beers. I'm hoping this beer is finished in time for me to enter it in Beehive Brew-off. I'm interested in seeing how judges will receive an assertive smoked beer like this.

Update 8/12/2019 - AM
Like most of my summertime lagers, this beer chilled overnight. It's down to 51F this morning so I aerated and pitched the yeast. The Tilt has been logging back and forth between 1.067 and 1.068, so it's probably right at 1.0675.

Update 8/12/2019 - PM
Forgot to mention, the yeast I pitched for this beer was the cake from my Keller-rado beer, which was the cake from my Czech Pils. This will be the last beer I pitch this yeast into, but I definitely have a ton of healthy yeast. By lunchtime today, I was already seeing the gravity starting to drop, and after work it's already dropped almost 10 points to ~1.059. If it continues at this rate, it should definitely be done in time for Beehive.

Update 8/13/2019
I may have been a little too optimistic yesterday as the gravity is actually reading a little higher this morning. The low readings yesterday were likely caused by yeast buildup on the Tilt, causing it to read lower than the actual gravity. The gravity is currently reading 1.063, which is more realistic than the drop I saw yesterday (the low was all the way down to 1.048 on one reading).

Update 8/15/2019
Tilt gravity readings are down to ~1.032 this morning. I've been slowly ramping the temps up to 55F. It'll remain here until gravity gets in the neighborhood of 1.020, when I'll start ramping the temps up for the diacetyl rest.

Update 10/13/2019
I finally got around to kegging this beer today. I was going to enter it in Beehive Brew-off, but after tasting it before the comp, I realized it was way too smoky to do well in a competition. So, I decided to let it ride for a while. It's still on the assertive side, but it has mellowed a bit and I expect it to continue to do so.