The Koulermos family reunited in Europe for a week of mayhem and debauchery. We visited a handful of cities throughout Belgium and Germany - I took it as a personal quest to find the next beer to emulate.
Antwerp had the best Stella that has ever trickled down my gullet, but the best beer I had on the trip was the Düsseldorf Altbier: Uerige Flasche.
Upon arriving back in the states I began my search for a recipe that would mimic the distinctive taste that I enjoyed so much. Luckily the shop that supplies all my brewing needs had just that (SIDE NOTE - the guy who runs Culver City Home Brew actually goes to Düsseldorf three times a year to have this beer fresh). Altbier has a unique history and has been brewed in the region for a very very long time.
I used CCHBS's basic recipe with a couple alterations out of necessity. On the grain bill I used German Carafa III (3oz) instead of Debittered Black Malt (2 oz), and for the hops I used #1 Magnum 15.2% (0.65 oz) instead of #1 Northern Brewer 10% (1.3 oz). To get the wort's temperature down from boiling to 75f in shortest amount of time I used my new wort chiller (copper pipping that cool tap water flows through). The faster the wort chills the better the beer's clarity.
For the fermentation I had to build a custom cooling system since the carboy needs to be in an environment of 50f to 65f. My apt is generally right around 70+f, so in order to deal with the heat I made a box below my wall unit AC that the carboy sits in. I rigged a system of fans to create focused air circulation that passed through the box that contained the 6 gallon carboy.
The fermentation has been quick and vigorous. The finished beer should be done in about a month and I'll be posting Part 2 on its taste and label.