At long last my Alt-Bier recipe is done. Where as in German Alt means “Old”, mine is turning out more to be an abbreviation for Alternative. Fundamentally, the beer has the same sorts of ingredients and style of brewing and conditioning. I always start with a style and then tweak because I don’t want to make the same Hanks Hefe or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone that hundreds/thousands of other people are brewing. It’s also the reason I probably make many more undrinkable beers than those other ‘squares’. See the irony there?
This time around I added 8oz of Lactose to my beer and also one 1/2lb of raw Spelt.
What is Spelt?
That is a great question. I hadn’t heard of it either until the other day when some fellows in Art Department on a movie I was working on were getting rid of some prop grains(which were real, in fact) for a certain whole foods store set. I read on the label: “Spelt – The official grain of Germany!” and I knew if it was, it was something that be great in beer. It turns out, the Europeans have been using spelt in saison and other beer styles for centuries.
Anyway, spelt is a closely related grain to wheat. It lends some of the same properties and I am hoping might add even more sweetness and lighten the color a bit for my Alt-Bier.
Lactose is another sweetener for beer and also another ingredient that has been used for a long time. Lactose is a type of sugar that is unfermentable by beer yeasts and therefore the qualities of this ‘tose remain constant even after brewing and fermenting, where as maltose will break down by the yeast, producing flavor and alcohol. Lactose is specifically for flavor and body.
So, I’m bottling now and in two weeks I’ll crack a bottle open. I’m sure it will need a bit more time, and then in 4 weeks I will crack another bottle and hopefully, it will be ready right around Christmas… here is hoping!