Schwarzbier – Dark Helmet

Lots of factors go into what my next homebrew will be. (Some of them are even rational.) The time of the year will push me towards porters and stouts, or will swing me the other way to pale ales and Berliner weisses. Sometimes it is a seasonal yeast strain, or the availability of scarce hop varieties that inspire me to try something new.

I don’t do lagers very often, so when I know I’ll have to dedicate a cooler to lager fermentation (around 50F) and subsequent lagering (around 32F), I might as well do two at once. So I did a triple decoction bohemian pilsner in the morning and a schwarzbier in the afternoon back in April. It was a long and, occasionally, trying day but I ended up with 2 batches of lager beer in the end, so it was worth it.

Quick rundown: a schwarzbier is a smooth, moderately malty, dark lager of German origin. It is pretty tightly balanced and the ones that I’ve tried that were out of style were so because they were too roasty and porter-like. That is something that Gordon Strong was complaining about on Twitter the other day, as well.

The malts: Munich, Black Roasted Barley, Crystal 60L, Carafa II, Pilsner, and Chocolate malt

Dark goodness

There is nothing revolutionary about this schwarzbier and it cuts very close to JZ’s recipe for the style. I used a blend of the Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager strain and the White Labs WLP830 German Lager strain. That was a bit of a necessity considering that I had to ramp up a huge culture of the Bohemian lager for the BoPils, and so to get to the right pitch count, with my meager yeast farming setup, I used some of the Bohemian strain to complement the planned German strain for the schwarzbier.

It was bottled last week and should be ready to taste in a few more days.

This one is named Dark Helmet after the Spaceballs character who was a master of the “Schwartz”.


Dark Helmet – (Schwarzbier)

Starting Gravity: 1.059 (4/17/11)
Secondary Gravity: 1.015 (5/2/11) (Lagering)
Final Gravity: 1.015 (6/15/11)
5.9% alcohol (by volume)
Apparent Attenuation: 73.6%
Real Attenuation: 60.3%

Mash (154º for 80 min)
5.0 lbs Pilsner Malt
6.0 lbs Munich Malt
5 oz Crystal 60L
7 oz Chocolate Malt
4 oz Black Roasted Barley
4 oz Carafa II

Boil (90 min)
1.5 oz Hallertau Pellet Hops (3.8 AA) (60 min)
0.5 oz Hallertau Pellet Hops (3.8 AA) (20 min)
0.5 oz Hallertau Pellet Hops (3.8 AA) (0 min)
1 tablet Whirlfloc (Boil – 15 min.)
½ tsp Brewer’s Choice Wyeast Nutrient Blend (Boil – 10 min.)

Primary (50º F for ~2 weeks, including a diacetyl rest)
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager – Starter Made
WLP830 German Lager Yeast – Starter Made

Secondary (34º F for ~6 weeks)


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